Vehicle malfunctions play a role in about 10 percent of all commercial truck accidents. Sometimes these malfunctions are caused by defective auto parts; other times, they can be traced back to negligent maintenance. When a truck tire blows out and causes a crash, it is often necessary to perform an extensive investigation to determine why the blowout happened and who might be responsible.
If you or someone you love was hurt in such a collision, read on to learn the answers to some frequently asked questions about these cases:
1. Who Can I Sue After a Truck Tire Blowout Accident?
To determine liability, your attorney and perhaps an accident reconstruction expert will have to evaluate the police report, photos of the scene, video footage, property damage, and other relevant evidence. The approach your attorney takes when investigating your claim will depend on the circumstances. For example, if it is suspected that the blowout was caused by a manufacturing defect within the tire, your lawyer might look for recall data, evaluate blueprints and schematics, and speak with a tire expert. If your lawyer suspects that the motor carrier failed to replace the tire soon enough, valuable evidence may include maintenance records, the tire itself, and other tires on the truck.
Depending on what caused the tire blowout, there are several parties who might be liable for your medical bills, pain and suffering, and other damages. Those parties include:
- The Truck Driver: If the truck driver was aware that the tire needed to be replaced yet chose to drive the vehicle anyway, he or she might be liable.
- The Motor Carrier: Trucking companies can be held vicariously liable for the negligence of the truck drivers they employ when those drivers are performing duties within the course and scope of their employment. That means if the truck driver is found liable, you might be able to hold his or her employer vicariously liable for your damages. The motor carrier may also be at fault if any staff at the company—such as a fleet manager or mechanic—knew or should have known that the tire needed to be replaced yet failed to act.
- A Mechanic or Maintenance Company: Some trucking companies hire contractors to maintain their fleet. If the mechanic or maintenance company failed to replace a worn tire, it might be liable for your accident.
- The Manufacturer of the Tire: If a manufacturing defect was a proximate cause of the blowout, you may have grounds for a claim against the tire manufacturer. Depending on the source of the defect, it might also be possible to pursue damages from other parties who played a role in the tire’s development or distribution including the designer, engineers, the distributor, or the vender.
- A Government Entity: If the truck was a government vehicle, the entity that owned and maintained it might be liable for your damages. Alternatively, if the blowout happened due to a pothole or uneven road surface, the government entity responsible for maintaining that section of roadway might be liable.
2. What Factors Might Influence the Settlement Negotiations?
After a serious truck accident, it’s only natural to wonder how much compensation you might be able to recover from the liable party. Although no attorney can guarantee a specific settlement or verdict, you may find it helpful to know the factors that can influence the negotiations. Examples include:
- The Damages Incurred and Their Value: As you might suspect, the types of damages you have incurred will have a major impact on the settlement calculations. More severe and permanent injuries tend to cost more to treat. They also tend to involve greater pain and suffering. If you had to miss work for treatment and recovery, those lost wages might be recoverable. And if you won’t be able to return to the same profession, it may be possible to collect damages for loss of future income. Some injuries force the victim to live a sedentary lifestyle, in which case it may be possible to obtain compensation for loss of life enjoyment. And if your spouse has suffered a loss of love, companionship, affection, sexual relations, or comfort due to the injuries, he or she might be entitled to loss of consortium damages.
- The Amount of Insurance Coverage Available: If the defendant doesn’t have significant assets or finances, your recovery might be limited to the available insurance coverage.
- The Value of the Defendant’s Assets: If your damages exceed the defendant’s liability insurance limits, your attorney may advise going after his or her assets.
- Whether the Victim’s Negligence Played a Role: If you shared fault for the crash, your damages award may be limited by your percentage of fault.
- Whether the Victim Failed to Mitigate Damages: If you ignore your doctor’s instructions or do anything that causes your condition to worsen or prolongs your recovery, the opposing party might argue that you should not be compensated for 100 percent of your losses.
3. What Can I Do to Protect My Claim?
Below are a few steps you can take to give your case the best possible chance of success:
- Do not post photos of yourself or discuss your injuries or case on social media,
- Direct any phone calls and emails from the insurance company or defendant to your lawyer,
- Follow your doctor’s instructions,
- Keep a personal injury journal, and
- Store any receipts and invoices for costs related to your accident and injury.
Discuss Your Case with a Truck Accident Lawyer in Long Beach
Your Injuries Are Personal to Me
Trial attorney Michael D. Waks has extensive experience in auto accident cases involving large motor carriers, powerful insurance companies, and government entities. He can help you navigate every step of the proceedings and fight for the compensation you need to move on with life. For a free consultation, call (562) 206-1939 or send us a message HERE.
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