(Adds Tesla statement)
April 11 (Reuters) - The family of a driver killed in a Tesla car crash has hired law firm Minami Tamaki LLP to explore legal options, the law firm said on Wednesday, adding the Autopilot feature in the electric carmaker's vehicle probably caused his death.
Last month, Walter Huang died in a crash and vehicle fire in a Tesla Inc Model X near Mountain View, California, prompting a federal field investigation.
Tesla later said the car had activated Autopilot, raising new questions about the semi-autonomous system that handles some driving tasks. The company said vehicle logs from the accident showed no action had been taken by Huang before the crash and that he had received warnings to put his hands on the wheel.
The law firm said its preliminary review suggested the autopilot feature was defective and had uncovered complaints by other Tesla drivers of navigational errors by the system.
"(Our) preliminary review indicates that the navigation system of the Tesla may have misread the lane lines on the roadway, failed to detect the concrete median, failed to brake the car, and drove the car into the median," Minami said.
While sympathizing with the family, Tesla again blamed Huang, saying he was well aware that Autopilot was not perfect and, specifically, he told them it was not reliable in that exact location, but nonetheless engaged Autopilot.
It said the system always reminds drivers to be alert and have hands on the wheel and had warned Mr Huang several times on the day of the crash to do so.
"The crash happened on a clear day with several hundred feet of visibility ahead, which means that the only way for this accident to have occurred is if Mr. Huang was not paying attention to the road, despite the car providing multiple warnings to do so," a Tesla spokesperson told Reuters.
"The false impression that Autopilot is unsafe will cause harm to others on the road. NHTSA found that even the early version of Tesla Autopilot resulted in 40 percent fewer crashes and it has improved substantially since then." (Reporting by Munsif Vengattil in Bengaluru; Editing by Anil D'Silva and Patrick Graham)