State Farm has filed a subrogation claim against Tesla for $1.27 million due to a house fire that nearly destroyed a home in Carmel, Indiana. The insurance company says a 2016 Model S may have had a defect that caused the fire.

The fire happened almost exactly two years ago, on February 17, 2020. According to Teslarati, the family that owned the Model S had driven it locally the day of the fire, returned home, parked it in the garage, and plugged it in. State Farm says an investigation by its teams, as well as other experts, proved that the fire was caused by the Tesla. State Farm also says it later learned that the Model S had a defect. The insurance company wrote in the lawsuit:

“Investigation into the origin and cause of the Fire by STATE FARM, and experts retained to investigate on its behalf, revealed the Fire originated at the Tesla and was caused by a defective condition of the vehicle, which was present when the vehicle was placed into the stream of commerce by Defendant Tesla.”

“Due to a defect in design or manufacture, upon information and belief, the Tesla vehicle’s electrical system failed, causing an electrical condition which ignited combustibles and resulted in the Fire.”

It will be interesting to see how this all plays out, especially due to the wording in the second paragraph above. State Farm adds, "upon information and belief," since it may be impossible for it to know with 100% certainly precisely what caused the fire and why.

Essentially, such wording is used when the source isn't sure of the specifics. State Farm could have written "Due to a defect in design or manufacture, the Tesla vehicle’s electrical system failed," but it added the additional wording since it can't say "for sure" that's what happened.

We've often wondered what might happen if a house or structure were to catch fire, and an EV was present on the property. In many cases, it seems as though investigators may be compelled to consider the electric car as one of many potential causes, regardless of the fact that it's been proven time and time again that EVs are much less prone to catching fire than gas cars. The EV charging equipment, as well as the home's electrical connections related to the equipment, would also be cause for concern and investigation.

At any rate, State Farm covered the damage to the home, paying the family some $1.27 million to cover the damage to the home, damage to vehicles, the family's belongings, and various living expenses incurred amid the tragedy.

State Farm filed a subrogation suit, which is an attempt to get back the money it paid out. The insurance company will work to prove that Tesla was negligent – and therefore responsible for the fire – since its vehicle was reportedly defective. According to Teslarati, State Farm goes on to say that "there are at least twenty ways Tesla showed negligence." 

You can find more details about the case below:

Case No. 2022-CV-00342, State Farm vs. Tesla, Inc.
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