Tesla may be the hottest thing in electric cars, but its door handle design has landed the automaker in hot water again. There have been several complaints about the design of the door handles on the Model S. The handles are designed to pop out when the key fob is near, but there have been reports that this feature does not work. Usually, this is just an inconvenience, but in this case, the design flaw may be responsible for a death. 

The incident in question took place Febraury when Omar Awan, a 48-year-old anesthesiologist, was driving his Tesla Model S in Florida. He left the roadway that he was driving on and crashed into a palm tree. A police officer responding to the scene was unable to open the door to assist the man, according to a wrongful death lawsuit filed in state court in Broward County by his family.  

The lawsuit claimed the fire began with the car's lithium-ion batter, and the flush door handles for thwarting a rescue. “Fire engulfed the car and burned Dr Awan beyond recognition – all because the Model S has inaccessible door handles, no other way to open the doors, and an unreasonably dangerous fire risk,” the lawsuit said. Awan’s family is seeking over $15,000 in damages.

tesla-4311967_1920 Tesla car Photo: lobpreis/pixabay.com

Officers responding on the scene couldn't open the doors because the handles were retracted, and bystanders watched helplessly along with the officers as the car filled with smoke and flames.

The law suit said Awan sustained no broken bones or internal injuries, and that his death was caused by smoke inhalation. What is known is the fact that rescuers were unable to open the doors to render aid to the man. Tesla has not responded for comment. 

Awans  Tesla continued to burn for several hours even after it was placed in a tow yard. Fire personnel had to respond multiple times to put the fire out. 

According to a report by Consumer Reports in 2015, broken door handles were the most common problems with the Model S. The system has been flawed for a long time, and you would think that at this point, there would be a design change. 

Records show that this isn't the only case default the Model S's Lithium-ion batteries as flammable. A California family recently filed a wrongful death suit after their 18-year-old died after crashing into a concrete wall. The lawsuit alleges that the crash was "entirely survivable."