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Defective Tire Personal Injury Attorneys in Shasta County

1. When can I seek compensation for a defective tire personal injury?

Crash investigation experts can determine the cause of vehicle accidents. If you have been injured in a crash caused by defective tires, you might be able to file a compensation claim or lawsuit. If a defective tire accident killed your close family member, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit. An experienced defective tire personal injury attorney can review the facts of your case during a free consultation and tell you whether the circumstances that caused your injuries will allow you to seek compensation.
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Defective tire accident personal injury claims usually serve two purposes. First, victims deserve just compensation for their injuries and financial losses. Second, companies that produce defective products or act negligently should be held accountable for their actions.

2. Who is responsible for defective tire injuries?

Defective tires and poorly maintained tires cause tire-related accidents. Identifying the correct defendant is necessary to obtain the maximum compensation to which a victim is entitled.

Defendants in Defective Tire Product Liability Claims

The person or organization responsible for the defective tires may be the company that made the tires, the business or person that distributed the tires, or the person or company that sold the tires. The victim does not need to figure out which party caused the problem because under California product liability law, everyone in the chain of distribution of a defective tire is equally responsible for damage caused by the tire. A seasoned defective tire accident personal injury attorney knows how to identify the proper defendants in a product liability lawsuit.

Defendants in Defective Tire Negligence Claims

Faulty tire accidents occur even when tires are not defective when they are sold to the first user. Tires may become defective because of something the owner does or does not do, during a repair, or through an accident. If the tire then causes damage, the liable party may be a vehicle owner, a mechanic or tire repair shop, or a tire re-seller. In these situations, the party who is at fault must be identified as the defendant in a negligence action.

A driver may be found negligent and liable for an accident if the driver knows of a tire problem and still drives, causing a preventable crash. For example, cars and trucks with excessively worn tire treads or tires that are underinflated by more than 25% are more likely to be involved in a tire-related crash than vehicles with proper tread depth and tire pressure. If a driver fails to conduct regular preventive tire maintenance, the driver is responsible for any resulting accidents.

3. How do defective tires cause crashes?

Tires are the only point of contact between a vehicle and the ground. Tires support and distribute the vehicle’s weight, provide traction, assist with steering and braking, and cushion the vehicle from road irregularities like potholes or gravel. Tires are essential for vehicular control, managing speed, and steering. Defective tires cause drivers to lose control of the automobile.

Tread separation is a dangerous and common tire defect that can occur through manufacturing or negligent repairs. Tread separation occurs when the tread detaches from the body of the tire. Tire tread is the part of the tire which is most visible—the rubbery grooved surface. Most people think of the tread as only the grooved area that touches the road, but “tire tread” consists of many components. The tread provides traction, allowing the tire to properly grip the road, and enables smooth and appropriate driving. The importance of proper treads can be seen on wet streets where the treads expel water and prevent slipping, sliding, and hydroplaning on slick surfaces.

Improper design, manufacturing defects, and inferior supplies can lead to tread separation. Some tires can be retreaded when the treads wear down. However, if the retreading is not done properly or if inferior products are used, tread separation is likely. In addition, improper repair of flat tires can cause tread separation.

Tread separation can cause the tire to rupture while the vehicle is operating. This is called a tire blowout—the tire bursts or ruptures while the car is moving, causing rapid loss of air pressure. Steering becomes difficult and drivers lose control of the vehicle, often running off the road or crashing into an object.

Tread separation is not the only cause of blowouts. Manufacturing defects, faulty design, improper tire repairs, objects in the road, road conditions, driver error, and vehicle owner negligence can all lead to tire blowouts.

4. What damages are available for defective tire injuries?

As with other personal injuries, defective tire accident victims can seek compensation for financial and other losses due to the accident. Economic compensatory damages include those things with a specific dollar value that can be repaid. For example, car repair costs are determined by an insurance adjuster or by an auto repair shop documenting repairs on a bill for services. In contrast, the value of the loss of a career or favorite activity does not have an objective worth—instead, the value to the victim must be calculated with the help of an experienced personal injury attorney and expert witnesses.

Economic compensatory damages include the following:

  • Medical bills
  • Vehicle repairs
  • Property damage
  • Costs of therapies, medications, and medical devices
  • Rehabilitative care
  • Lost income
  • Transportation expenses resulting from accident
  • Purchase of household and health assistance services needed because of injuries
  • Court fees and litigation expenses

Non-economic damages, which compensate victims for losses that do not have a specific dollar value, are determined by the victim’s individual situation and include the following:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress and mental anguish
  • Loss of future earnings
  • Decrease in quality of life
  • Loss of consortium

In rare circumstances, a victim may seek punitive damages in a defective tire personal injury case. In California, punitive damages exist to “punish a wrongdoer for the conduct that harmed the plaintiff and to discourage similar conduct in the future” (California Civil Jury Instructions 3947). To obtain punitive damages, the defendant must have acted with “malice, oppression, or fraud.” https://www.courts.ca.gov/partners/documents/Judicial_Council_of_California_Civil_Jury_Instructions.pdf

In a wrongful death case, damages can include funeral and burial expenses, loss of financial support to the family, and loss of companionship.

5. What kinds of lawsuits can be filed after a defective tire accident?

Experienced defective tire personal injury attorneys determine the cause of the accident, the responsible party, and the type of claim most likely to succeed. Product liability and negligence are the two most common claims following a faulty tire accident.

A product liability claim means that the consumer purchased a defective product. The consumer need not show who was responsible for the defect because it would be too hard for the consumer to prove whether it was the manufacturer, the designer, the distributor, or the seller. Product liability claims may focus on the product design, the manufacturing process, or the information provided to the consumer about the tire.

Defective tire negligence claims may be brought against a person or business who inadequately repairs a tire, causing the tire to be defective. A negligence claim may also be brought against a driver who fails to safely maintain the vehicle tires, and as a result, causes an accident. For example, if a driver knows his tire treads are starting to separate from the rest of the tire, the driver should repair or replace the tires. Failing to do so is negligence, and the driver is liable for any resulting injuries and damage. If the driver doesn’t know the treads are separating because the driver doesn’t periodically inspect the tires or perform recommended routine maintenance, the driver is just as negligent as if the driver had known.

6. What must a victim prove to win a defective tire personal injury claim?

The two types of lawsuits a victim is likely to file after a tire-related accident are a product liability claim or a negligence claim.

Defective Tire Product Liability Claims

  • To win a product liability case, a victim must prove four things:
  • The defendant designed, manufactured, distributed, or sold a defective product.
  • When the product left the defendant’s possession, it was defective.
  • The victim used the product in a way that was intended or reasonably foreseeable.
  • Because of the defect, the victim experienced harm.

For certain defective product claims, California imposes strict liability, which means that a defendant is liable for harm just because a product is more dangerous than it should be or has inadequate safety warnings. The defendant doesn’t need to be found negligent.

One such claim is a manufacturing defect, which means that during manufacturing, something occurred which made the tire different from the intended design or product specifications. It can also mean that the tire in question was different from other typical tires in the same product line.

A victim may prove the existence of a manufacturing defect by comparing the tire that caused the accident to other tires from the same product line. Experts can also compare the tire that was made to the manufacturer’s specifications, showing the differences between the two and how the differences reveal a defect.

Strict liability also applies to design defects. A design defect exists when a product is used as intended but doesn’t perform as expected. A design defect also exists when the product design includes inherent risks of danger, and those risks are greater than the product design benefits.

The third strict liability claim is a warning defect. A tire can be defective if it is made or sold without proper warnings or instructions regarding safety. The appropriateness of warnings or instructions may be determined during litigation.

Defective Tire Personal Injury Negligence Claims

When the defendant is a vehicle owner, driver, repair shop, or someone else who did something or failed to do something to a tire that caused it to be faulty, the victim will claim that the defendant was negligent.

To win a negligence case, a victim must prove three things:

  • The defendant owed a duty of care to the victim.
  • The defendant violated or breached that duty of care.
  • The defendant’s violation of the duty of care was a substantial factor in causing the victim’s injuries or harm.

7. How do tire manufacturers, distributors, and sellers defend product liability lawsuits?

Many defenses are available in product liability lawsuits. The main defense is “I didn’t do it.” For example, the manufacturer will say that the tire was not defective when it left the manufacturing plant, or the distributor will say it was not the company that distributed the specific tire in question. A variation on this defense is that the tires were modified after they were sold to the consumer. Alternatively, the defendants might claim that the driver used the tire incorrectly or in an unforeseeable way. For example, the driver may have been towing more weight than the tires were designed to carry.

Another common defense is that the victim’s actions caused the accident. The defendants may try to show that the driver was excessively speeding, driving under the influence, or negligent in maintaining the tires and the vehicle. Even if the victim contributes to the accident, the defendants may not be relieved of responsibility for damages because California’s laws allow more than one person to be found at fault in an accident.

The allocation of liability for causing the crash is called “comparative fault,” and each person is assigned a percentage of fault. A victim’s award is reduced by their percentage of fault. So, if the victim’s damages are $200,000.00 and the victim is 50% responsible for the crash, the maximum amount the defendants must pay is $100,000. Blaming the victim is a good defensive strategy because if successful, the defendants’ compensation to the victim is reduced. Skilled defective tire personal injury lawyers know how to counter these defenses.

8. How do negligent drivers defend tire-related personal injury lawsuits?

A negligent driver’s first defense is “it wasn’t my fault.” The second defense is “it was the victim’s fault.” If the negligent act was failing to safely maintain the tires, the driver will try to prove that she performed regular maintenance on the tires and was therefore unaware of the problem. Perhaps she will cast blame on the mechanics or say there was no evidence of a problem with the tire.

Because of California’s comparative negligence framework, a defendant will try to place as much fault as possible on the victim or other potential parties. For example, if the accident occurred at a road construction site, the defendant may allege that spilled gravel from the site contributed to the crash or that the construction lights impaired the driver’s vision. The defendant will also claim that the victim’s actions or inactions caused the wreck.

9. Are defective tires subject to recalls?

Tire manufacturers can voluntarily recall defective tires. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) can also require manufacturers to recall tires if the problem is widespread. Recalls are expensive for tire companies, so they only occur after many accidents and injuries. The NHTSA investigates many complaints against tire companies each year. Vehicle owners can find out whether their tires are subject to recalls or complaints by checking www.safecar.gov. Drivers may be surprised to learn that the following popular tire brands have been the subject of complaints or recalls:

  • BF Goodrich
  • Bridgestone
  • Continental
  • Firestone
  • Goodyear
  • Hankook
  • Kelly
  • Kumho
  • Michelin
  • Pirelli

This list is not exhaustive, and drivers should check the NHTSA database to learn about other tire company complaints and recalls.

10. How will a defective tire personal injury attorney help me obtain compensation?

The experienced defective tire personal injury attorneys at Reiner, Slaughter, & Frankel know how to build winning cases for defective tire victims. Their network of experts in accident investigation and reconstruction, tire manufacturing, and product liability help victims obtain the maximum compensation to which they are entitled. They have prevailed in thousands of negligence cases, obtaining millions in compensation for victims. Contact Reiner, Slaughter, & Frankel today for your free, no-risk consultation.

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