Defective tires cause many auto accidents. Blowouts can come at unexpected times in tires that have manufacturing defects, but there are also many vehicle owners who drive until the tire tread is nearly gone. Both scenarios can result in rubber separation or a blown sidewall, which clearly creates a dangerous situation for all drivers on the road. Individual car owners are required by law to maintain their vehicle to proper safety standards, and staying aware of deteriorating tires is part of that responsibility. There still are also a few other things to consider with an accident.
Identifying multiple negligent parties is a major reason to retain an experienced auto accident attorney, as the novice injured auto accident victim may not understand all potentially liable parties. Not only could the vehicle owner be liable if they are involved in an accident caused by inadequate tires, but tires that are provably defective may also include the manufacturer as a co-defendant.
In addition, legal cases resulting from accidents where the tires were installed improperly or the retailer suggests maintenance practices that are counter to manufacturer recommendations can also result in the retailer being a co-defendant.
Any individual involved in an accident resulting from defective tires may also sue the manufacturer or retailer in some accident cases. The accident may still be the fault of one party, but that party may also sue if the tires were bought defective, especially if they are still under warranty.
Previous lawsuits resulting from the same defect can help as documentation that the problem already existed. Recall service records can also be important. The liable party’s auto insurance company should cover the accident compensatory claims, but anyone involved may sue if the flaws in manufacturing or servicing can be proven.
Proving the Case
Just as in any other civil tort case, it is the duty of the plaintiff attorney to prosecute, or prove, that the accident was a direct result of defective tires on the respondent’s vehicle. This can be difficult sometimes, but inspecting the tires after the accident can be supplied as evidence. In addition, any service records prior to the accident can help as documentation.
However, the burden of proof requires there be an actual existing injury, supported by pictures or medical records, and the injury must be the direct result of the respondent’s negligence. Every product liability or retailer neglect would be an addendum to the case. Product liability negligence can also include the amount of time tires are stored in a warehouse, as the tire composition deteriorates over time, so negligence is not necessarily traditional in defect tire lawsuits.
Personal injury and property damage lawsuits can be difficult to prove in many cases, but the burden of proof is a preponderance of the evidence according to the totality of the circumstances. This is a lower threshold than beyond a reasonable doubt, which is used in criminal prosecutions. Punitive damages against manufacturers can also be reduced by the court, even if the jury awards a huge punitive damage award.
It is vital to retain an effective auto accident attorney who is experienced in product liability cases concerning auto equipment, and one who is willing to take the case to trial if necessary. Having solid representation against the possible multiple legal teams can be the difference in maximizing an equitable case settlement. It’s also important to know about tire recalls, and according to the Department of Motor Vehicles, you can even subscribe to NHTSA’s e-mail alert service, which immediately alerts you if there is a one.
Holly Chavez is the author of this article and a multidisciplinary writer who contributes to legal blogs and forums on behalf of Stroble Law. She used to commute long distances to work and had a tire installed incorrectly that came off on a major interstate. No one was hurt, and the company worked with her to repair the damage to her car. All stories don’t work out with a happy ending, though, so it is important that you know your options if something like that happens to you. Be sure to comment and let her know what you thought about the article.