A US mother is suing electric vehicle (EV) giant Tesla after her toddler was allegedly able to start the family’s Model X SUV and run into her, breaking multiple bones and causing her to suffer a traumatic birth one week later.

    Fox59 reports California resident Mallory Harcourt had returned home with her two-year-old son in December 2018, with the Tesla Model X parked in the driveway as she removed the toddler from the car.

    Ms Harcourt soon realised she had left her keys to the house at her husband’s work but her son needed a nappy change, which she proceeded to prepare for in the garage.

    However, with the Tesla Model X’s driver’s door still open, her son was allegedly able to crawl into the footwell and engage the brake, starting the EV.

    He then allegedly unknowingly pulled down on its column shifter to select drive and accelerated into the garage.

    Ms Harcourt was subsequently hit by the Tesla and pinned against the wall, breaking multiple bones including her pelvis. She was eight and a half months pregnant at the time, and prematurely gave birth to a daughter one week later, in a delivery described as “excruciating” in her lawsuit.

    While Ms Harcourt and her lawyers allege the Tesla Model X has a defective design that the carmaker knew about, the EV giant has claimed blame for the incident lies with the toddler’s mother for leaving the two-year-old unattended.

    “B.H. [the Harcourts’ son] pressed the brake pedal while also pulling the gear selector down, which shifted the Model X from Park to Drive,” Tesla said in its rebuttal.

    “[B.H.] then continued to push both the brake and accelerator pedals, causing the Model X to move forward.”

    “The facts show that B.H. was able to start the Model X because Mallory left B.H. unattended, left two doors open – including the driver’s door – with the key fob in the vehicle, failed to read the owners’ manual or otherwise educate herself on the available Model X features, and failed to enable Tesla’s unique PIN to Drive feature.”

    “In no uncertain terms, Tesla denies liability for the incident.”

    Court proceedings began earlier this month, and a jury is expected to hand down their decision regarding the trial before the end of April.

    MORE: Everything Tesla

    Jordan Mulach

    Born and raised in Canberra, Jordan has worked as a full-time automotive journalist since 2021, being one of the most-published automotive news writers in Australia before joining CarExpert in 2024.

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