A 61-year-old woman was tragically killed on the 405 Freeway in Long Beach recently when a tire came off another vehicle and smashed into the windshield of her SUV. The victim died before paramedics could arrive. Her passenger was rushed to Long Beach Memorial Medical Center.
According to the California Highway Patrol, the crash occurred just after 1 p.m. when the rear-left tire of a southbound Dodge Ram pickup came loose and entered the northbound lanes. Reports indicate that the tire crushed the driver-side compartment of the victim’s BMW X2, causing her fatal injuries.
Who Might Be Liable for an Auto Accident Caused by a Loose Tire?
While the vast majority of motor-vehicle collisions are caused by driver error, this isn’t always the case. As the recent crash on the 405 Freeway demonstrates, even a responsible driver can be involved in a deadly collision when a vehicle or one of its parts malfunctions.
To determine liability after a loose tire accident, it must first be determined why the tire became detached. There are all sorts of reasons why this might happen including:
- The Tire Was Improperly Fastened: This is the leading cause of loose tire accidents. Improperly installed lug nuts can eventually break or become loose, causing the wheel to detach from the vehicle.
- A Failed Bearing: When a bearing fails, the wheel might become loose.
- An Axle Broke off the Vehicle: When this happens, the whole tire assembly may detach.
- An Auto Part Defect: If an essential component of the wheel and tire assembly fails due to a manufacturing defect, this could cause the tire to come loose.
Identifying why the accident happened is just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to imposing liability. Your attorney will also have to determine whose misconduct played a role in causing the tire to come loose. Below are a few examples of parties who might be liable for these accidents:
- The Owner of the Vehicle: If the vehicle owner took the wheel off to perform maintenance and improperly reattached it, then he or she may be liable.
- A Mechanic: Even the most highly experienced mechanics make mistakes from time to time. For instance, they might fail to calibrate a wrench to the proper torque. This can result in the lug nuts not being tightened correctly.
- An Auto Part Manufacturer: If an auto part malfunction caused the tire to become loose, the manufacturer of that part—or another party who played a role in its development or distribution—may be liable for the resulting damages.
- A Motor Carrier: If a tire comes loose from a commercial truck and causes injury or death, it is possible that the employer of the truck driver can be held liable for damages.
What Kinds of Evidence Might Be Needed to Win My Case?
In most car accident cases, one of the drivers involved is found liable for the resulting medical bills, property damage, and other losses. But as previously mentioned, there are several parties who might be liable for a loose tire accident. To win your case, you will need strong evidence to prove liability, causation, and damages.
Evidence of Liability
It might be necessary for an automotive specialist and perhaps an accident reconstruction expert to evaluate the tire and wheel assembly to find out how it became loose. Their deposition may serve as valuable evidence of liability. Other potential evidence includes:
- The police report, which may contain statements from the drivers involved and eyewitnesses, as well as the responding officer’s observations;
- Vehicle maintenance records;
- Eyewitness deposition;
- Photos of property damage and the crash scene;
- Surveillance and dashcam footage; and
- Recall data pertaining to a defect within the tire and wheel assembly.
Evidence of Causation
If you didn’t have any pre-existing conditions before the accident and you visited a doctor right away, proving causation may be fairly straightforward. Important evidence might include your medical records, the police report, eyewitness deposition, and medical expert deposition.
If you had a pre-existing injury or illness that was aggravated by the crash, the defense might dispute causation. Your attorney would likely counter such a dispute using your medical records and the testimony of your treating doctor and perhaps a retained medical expert.
Evidence of Damages
The evidence needed to prove damages will depend on the kinds of injuries you suffered, their severity, the types of damages you intend to pursue, and other factors. Personal injury victims may be able to seek compensation for both economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are losses that can be verified using receipts, invoices, financial documents, and perhaps the testimony of medical, vocational, and financial experts. Non-economic damages are intangible consequences of an accident like pain and suffering and lost enjoyment in life.
Evidence of damages may include:
- Your medical records such as lab test results and diagnostic imaging;
- Your financial records like paystubs and income tax returns;
- The deposition of various medical experts and your treating physician;
- The deposition of an economist and vocational expert;
- The deposition of caregivers and close friends and family;
- Property repair estimates or invoices;
- Entries within your personal injury journal; and
- Invoices and receipts for services like home care and child care.
Speak with a Car Accident Lawyer in Long Beach Today
Your Injuries Are Personal to Me
If you or someone you love was hurt in a car accident, turn to the Law Office of Michael D. Waks for representation. Attorney Michael Waks and his support staff can perform a thorough investigation to identify all liable parties and build the strongest case possible. The consultation is free, and you won’t have to pay anything upfront to retain our legal services. Call (562) 206-1939 or send us a message to schedule a case assessment.
Download Our Car Accident Emergency .PDF
Our Car Accident Emergency .PDF contains a precise checklist of the information you must gather after a crash to strengthen your subsequent claim. Download it HERE and be sure to stash it in your glovebox.
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