The leading cause of car accidents in California can be unfortunate but straightforward, like lousy weather, adverse road conditions, or negligence of the other motorist. Nonetheless, sometimes the root cause of the accident could be a tire blow out. Consequently, making the case more complicated because it involves a product liability lawsuit. Speak to one of the experienced attorneys at The Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm to analyze the circumstances and details of the case. Moreover, the attorney can determine the various legal options for getting compensation.
How a Defective Tire Causes a Car Accident
A car tire on your vehicle is supposed to transfer the vehicle's weight through the axle onto the ground. It also offers steering and traction. Motorists depend on the tires to regulate their motor vehicles at high speed as well as prevent obstacles. When your tires are defective, they could result in you losing control of your automotive, causing a collision and injuring yourself and your passengers.
Weak points in the tire and tread separation from a tire are one of the leading causes of tire defects. It could be due to using substandard products to repair or make tires, design defects, or manufacturing defects.
A tread is the part of a tire with grooves patterns that permits your tire to grasp the road. The grooves also allow the explosion of water and avoid hydroplaning on wet surfaces. Should the tread start to delaminate (detached from the rest of your tire), you may lose control of your car.
Delamination can happen in tires with manufacturing defects or design issues. It can also take place when an inferior product is used to repair the tire or tires that have been retreaded when there hasn't been adequate curing time. Additionally, inappropriate flat tire mending could result in tread separation.
Tire rupturing or blowouts while driving at high speed could be due to tread separation, manufacturing flaws, or design defects. The rubber may lose the bond with the fabric reinforcement and steel belting, causing a sudden loss of air pressure.
A tire blowout could also be due to an operator mistake or your negligence. Using poor tires or overloading your car may lead to a blowout and result in a car accident. While speeding, a blowout can make you lose control of the vehicle, crash into another car or barrier, or even swerve off the road.
The lifespan of a tire can be defined by conditions like sidewalls and tread depth, as well as its usage. Deterioration within the tire may happen over time hence increasing the chances of failure. On top of that, exposure to salt air, sunlight, oxygen, and heat could adversely affect your tires as they become older. Tread separation is also a common phenomenon experienced in old tires.
Improper or weak compounds and contamination during manufacturing are common reasons that can cause adhesive failure between the rubber and belt. In most cases, the cracks will start forming at the belt edge. Crack growth, tearing failure, and progressive fatigue may progress into the skim stock. The cracks may then propagate when using the tire. Friction or heat within your tire may hasten the process, finally causing separation and potential tire failure.
Aspects to Consider in Determining Fault in a Faulty Tire Car Accident
If a tire was faulty when you bought it, you don't have to prove who was accountable for the car accident. Per product liability law, the person who sold, manufactured, or designed the defective tire is responsible for any injury caused by the tire.
If you bought a tire while it was fine, another person could be responsible for the defective tire car accident. It could be a mechanic, tire repair shop, car owner, or used tire seller.
According to negligence law, in case the car collision was due to another person's negligence, the negligent person should be held accountable for damages and injuries caused. In personal injury claims, plaintiffs should establish that the at-fault party caused the car accident. The facts of negligence include:
- The accused owed you a duty of care
- The accused breached the duty of care
- The breaching played a significant role in causing your injuries
2. Strict Liability
As a consumer, you may not be able to tell what caused the tire defect. It might have been a manufacturing issue, product design error, or happened before you bought the tire. A product liability lawsuit allows you to bring a claim without having to prove that the defendant was negligent.
Strict liability in a product liability case could involve either of the below:
It can be defined as anything that happens at the time of production that makes the product different from:
- The manufacturer's specifications or design, or
- Other similar items of the identical product line
In a defective tire claim, proof of manufacturing defects could be proved by comparing your tires to the proposed specifications or other wheels of a similar product line. Any variation in the tire could be proof of a defect.
To establish responsibility for a manufacturing defect, you should prove the elements below:
- The accused sold, distributed, or manufactured the tires
- The tires had manufacturing defects when they left the accused's possession
- You sustained an injury
- The defect played a significant role in causing your injury
Tire defects can be well-thought-out to be design defects if:
- The tires fail to function as securely as expected or as you would imagine when used in a reasonably foreseeable way, or
- The advantages of the design don't surpass the hazard characteristic in the design
Founded on the consumer expectation test, to receive compensation in a design claim, you should show the following:
- The accountable party designed, sold, or disturbed the tire
- The tire didn't function as securely as you'd have anticipated when used in a rationally foreseeable manner or as intended
- You were injured
- The tire's defect was a significant factor that caused your injury
Generally, in a strict liability case, you don't have to take legal action against the responsible company. The defendant could be accountable if they sold, distributed, or manufactured the faulty tire.
For instance, Magdalene purchases two new tires from Jacey, the founder of Zippy Tires. After two months, Magdalene's car experiences a blowout that causes an accident and leaves her with a broken leg and a damaged motor vehicle. Magdalene brings a product liability claim against Jacey and Zippy Tires. Jacey claims that although the flaw was in the tires, it wasn't her fault. She goes ahead to argue that she was not aware of the defect and have similar tires on her car.
Nevertheless, Magdalene doesn't have to prove that Jacey was liable for the defective tires or was aware of the defect. Magdalene has a lawsuit against Jacey and Zippy Tires because she purchased the tires from Zippy Tires. If Magdalene can establish all the facts mentioned above of the suit, Zippy Tires could be accountable for the loss suffered by Magdalene.
Moreover, a tire might be faulty if the seller, distributor, or manufacturer did not offer enough safety instructions or warnings about the tire. To receive compensation, you should present evidence that:
- The accused sold, distributed, or manufactured the tire
- The wheel had a risk that the defendant was aware of or should have been aware of
- The risk presented a significant risk when the tire was used in a practically foreseeable manner or as intended
- As an ordinary consumer, you wouldn't have identified the potential risk
- The accused did not adequately warn you of the risk
- You were injured due to insufficient warnings
What are the Most Common Defenses Used by Tire Companies in Product Liability Lawsuits?
In an attempt to shift the accountability to another person or avoid liability, a tire company may use either of the following defenses:
The Tire Defect Didn't Cause Your Injury
The liable party could claim that another factor was the leading cause of your injuries. For this defense to work, the accused should successfully argue that how your injuries were caused couldn't be realistically foreseen. Therefore, the risk could not be warned against or prevented by design. In short, the malfunctioning tire did not cause your injuries.
You Assumed the Risk
In case you know the manner, your using the tire might result in a malfunction or an injury, the defendant could win the case under the defense of assumption of the risk. Complete disregard of a known risk results in the assumption of the risk. It is a valid common defense used in negligence claims.
The Period in the Statute of Limitations had Passed
Another common defense is the passing of the period stipulated in the Statute of Limitations. A Statute of Limitations offers the time in which you should take legal action against a defendant. If you miss the deadline, the court will refuse to listen to your case.
In California, the period provided for in the statute of limitations for action is two years from the date of the faulty tire-related accident.
Specific Breach of Warranty
The liable party could have a defense if you didn't provide proper notice to the accused or if the warranty was disclaimed. The law requires a plaintiff to give notice of their claim before filing a lawsuit.
Additionally, it is possible that when you bought the tire, you disclaimed the tire. In other words, you agreed with the liable party when purchasing the product that the warranty didn't apply. For the disclaimer to work, a written contract is essential.
Usually, a disclaimer defense does not apply in products bought at a shop or at a location where there is little interaction before the manufacturer or seller and the consumer.
Other valid defenses include:
- The accused did not sell, distribute or manufacture the faulty tire
- The tire wasn't defective
- The tire wasn't used in a foreseeable manner or was misused
- The alleged victim was not hurt
- Another person altered or modified the wheel after the plaintiff bought it
- The victim caused the auto accident
Even when the tire firm is in a position to establish that you were partially accountable for the car collision, you could still recover compensation from the defendant. However, under comparative fault laws, your damages will be reduced by the percentage of your fault.
For instance, if the defendant was ninety percent responsible for manufacturing the faulty tire and you are ten percent to blame for causing the auto accident, you will be in a position to receive ninety percent of your total compensation from the firm.
Various Damages Awarded in a Faulty Tire Lawsuit
In a faulty tire claim, you can seek compensation for losses related to the crash. Compensatory damages are designed to put you in the position you would be in if the car accident did not occur.
There are two types of compensatory damages, namely: economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages can be determined using a dollar figure. Non-economic damages, on the other hand, are hard to determine because they are based on subjective losses incurred due to the car accident.
Common damages awarded in a malfunctioning tire-related car accident include:
You are entitled to receive compensation for all medical costs incurred as a result of the accident.
It can be expensive if your injuries require extensive treatment. As a result, it is essential to document all injuries. It will not only make the process of calculating damages easier but also ensure all expenses are calculated.
Medical expenses claimed in a personal injury claim may include:
- Hospital expenses
- Laboratory fees
- Physical therapy expenses
- Surgery cost
- Ambulance fee
- Prescription medication costs
Remember, to claim future medical bills in your claim. The future medical costs should be related to the defective tire car accident.
Additionally, you have a right to receive compensation for lost wages due to the accident. You should verify lost wages using a letter from your boss with details about your regular pay rate, the number of hours lost, and the amount of money you have lost because you were unable to work. The letter could also include lost overtime opportunities, sick days, or vacation time.
Likewise, you are entitled to compensation for lost earning capacity, if your injury causes a disability that reduces your future ability to make an earning.
Pain and Suffering
As previously noted, you have a right to reimbursement of medical bills incurred. Nevertheless, these costs do not put into consideration pain and suffering caused by the injury.
Pain and suffering is subjective. Consequently, insurance providers and judges use the following factors when determining the value of pain and suffering suffered:
- Kind of injury suffered
- The medication used
- Recovery duration
- The permanence of your injury
When calculating pain and suffering, most insurance providers will use a multiplier method. It involves multiplying your total financial losses with a number the insurance company finds suitable. Usually, the number is between one and five.
You may also experience emotional distress after the accident. Usually, this damage is proved by psychiatric records and diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Loss of Consortium
Your spouse may also have a right to receive compensation. The concept behind this damage is that you might not be in a position to offer your spouse with the same amount of companionship you provided before the car accident.
You may be in a position to bring a wrongful death lawsuit if you have lost a loved one. Per wrongful death law, only the following persons qualify to bring a wrongful death claim:
- The deceased's spouse or domestic partner
- Deceased's children
- Deceased's grandchildren in case the deceased's children are dead
- Any other person who is entitled to the deceased's property under intestate succession law
Damages awarded include:
- Burial costs
- Funeral expenses
- Loss of financial support to you that the decedent would have offered if they did not succumb to the injury
- Reimbursement for loss of affection, support, companionship, and guidance
Defective Tire Recalls
There are several tire defect reports in the United States. However, it takes several injuries and accidents before the federal government requires a tire firm to recall the defective tires or before a tire company starts a recall.
Over the years, there have been hundreds of tire lines and brands reported for complaints, investigations, and recalls. They include Michelin, Goodyear, Firestone, Continental, Pirelli, Bridgestone, just to name a few.
How to Know About Faulty Tires Recall
1. Get Notified
The simplest method to know if your tires are under recall is setting up a Google Alert. Use your tire brand, make, size, and recall as a search phrase. Set to receive the alert weekly. You will not get any alert unless your tire is recalled.
2. Tire Identification Number
Recall announcements will have several dates in which the tires were built. To know if your tire is among those recalled, you should read your Tire Identification Number (TIN). A Tire Identification Number is a code found on the sidewall of your tires. The only part of the TIN you should know is the part which gives the manufacture date. It appears as four numbers that represent the week and the year the tire was manufactured. For instance, the number 2812 means your tire was built in the twenty-eighth week of 2012.
3. Replacing a Recalled Tire
To learn more about replacing the tire under recall, contact the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA), visit safercar.gov, or call the phone number found in the recall alert. The tire manufacturer ought to cater for the cost of dismounting the defective tire as well as mounting a replacement.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What is Reasonably Foreseeable Manner?
The law requires a manufacturer to anticipate how an ordinary consumer will use as well as misuse a product. If the manner, the consumer uses or misuses the product is reasonably foreseeable, and the use or misuse injures the consumer, then the manufacturer should be held accountable. That does not mean the designer or manufacturer should eliminate the risk. Most useful daily products are inherently hazardous when used or misused.
However, the manufacturer should take practical precautions to reduce the risk, which could originate from the product. It could be issuing sufficient warning about the risk, the manufacturing or design of the product, or inspecting the product.
It is within the judge's discretion to decide if the manufacturer took reasonable precautions as well as whether your use was practically foreseeable.
2. What is the Importance of an Expert Witness?
Since it is complicated to understand tire defects, your attorney will give a tire engineer details about the accident together with the remaining piece of your tire. Then the expert witness should provide a comprehensive report of how the problem arose as well as affect those involved. Although the subject appears simple, the consequences of using a faulty tire could result in severe injury, property damage, and death. The accident could also lead to ligation, and the expert testimony could be used to prove how you did not cause the car accident.
3. What Steps Should You Take After a Tire Blow Out?
Do not panic if your tire blows out while driving. Although steering your vehicle after the accident is difficult, here are steps you can take to ensure safety:
- Do not slam on your brakes. Instead, slowly remove your foot from the gas pedal
- Coast to the shoulder or another area away from traffic
- Stay calm (It will stop you from making the situation riskier)
- Turn on the emergency flashers
- While waiting for assistance, stand far from your car
- Call 911 or police if any person has been hurt in the accident
Find a Reliable Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
Tire defects are a hazardous type of car part malfunction. Without safe tires, you can't control your motor vehicle. This could lead to a rollover, not forgetting the risk of suffering severe injuries and death. If you've been hurt in a defective tire car accident, it is essential to engage a competent lawyer.
At The Personal Injury Attorney Law Firm, we have handled thousands of car accident claims in California. Therefore, we understand what you are going through, and we can do everything in our power to assist you in getting fair and satisfactory compensation for your loss. Contact us today at 619-625-8707 to book your initial consultation.