In California, a defective tire accident is a car crash caused by a faulty tire. The tire can be defective because of a design or manufacturing defect, a failure to warn consumers of the danger, or because of someone’s negligence. Victims in the crash can recover compensation from the party responsible for the tire’s defects.
What is a defective tire car accident in California?
A defective tire car accident is a car wreck that was caused by a defective tire. These accidents are different from many car accidents because, in many cases, none of the drivers involved was responsible for the crash. Instead, under California personal injury law, the liable party is the one responsible for the defective tire. This can be the:
- company that designed the tire,
- plant that manufactured the tire,
- company that sold the tire,
- tire repair shop, or
However, in some cases, the driver of the vehicle with the defective tire can still be liable. If he or she negligently maintained their vehicle or failed to notice clear signs of a tire problem, they can be responsible for the resulting crash.
What are some common causes of a tire defect accident?
Defective tires can cause a car accident in a variety of ways in California. Drivers rely on their tires for traction and for steering, and as a point of contact with the road. If a tire is defective and fails while driving, it can make the driver lose control of the vehicle and cause a crash. Some of the most common causes include:
- tread separation,
- tire blowout,
- air pressure problems,
- rubber that is old, weak, or cracked, and
- faulty sidewall construction.
Tread separation is an especially common cause of a crash. The tread is the grooved part of the tire that comes into contact with the roadway. If low-grade materials are used in the adhesion that connects the tread to the steel belt of the tire, the tread can come loose. If the de-treading happens on the road, it can cause the driver to lose control and cause a crash. If the tread separates from the tire at high speeds, it can cause the car to rollover, which can lead to catastrophic injuries to the vehicle owner.
A tire blowout is a well-known cause of auto accidents. In these cases, it looks like the tire explodes, or pops. However, there are numerous causes that can lead to a tire blowout, including:
- a puncture to the air tubes inside the tire,
- underinflated tires, which puts wear on the sides of the tire that are too thin to handle it, which then rupture,
- excessive tread wear,
- excessive weight, which can also lead to wear on the sides of the tire,
- old tires that should have been replaced, and
- dangerous road conditions, like potholes.
Some of these causes are the responsibility of other people. When they are, the victims in the crash deserve to be compensated. Defective tire lawyers can help.
What recourse do victims have?
Victims who have been hurt in a car accident that was caused by a defective tire can file a personal injury or products liability claim. If the accident was fatal, the victim’s loved ones can file a wrongful death claim on the victim’s behalf.
Many victims make use of California’s personal injury laws. These claims require a showing that someone else’s negligence caused the tire problem and the resulting motor vehicle crash. To prove negligence in California, victims have to show that:
- the defendant owed the victim a duty of care,
- the defendant breached the duty of care, and
- the breach was a substantial factor in the victim’s injuries.1
Under California’s product liability laws, if the tire was defective then the person or party who designed, manufactured, or sold it can be held liable. They can be held strictly liable for:
In these cases, the victim and plaintiff does not need to show that the party responsible for the defect was acting negligently. The fact that the defendant was responsible for the defect is enough.
Design defects are problems with the design of the tire. An example of a design defect is when the material that holds the tread to the tire is designed to be too weak. While rare, when design defects do happen, they can affect an entire line of tires. This can encompass hundreds of thousands of tires on the road.
In California, 2 tests can be used to determine whether a design was defective:
- the consumer expectations test, and
- the risk-benefit test.2
The consumer expectations test requires plaintiffs to prove that:
- the defendant designed the tire,
- the tire did not perform as safely as an ordinary consumer would have expected it to perform when used as intended, or when misused in a reasonably foreseeable way,
- the plaintiff was hurt, and
- the tire’s failure to perform safely was a substantial factor in the plaintiff’s injuries.3
The risk-benefit test, meanwhile, involves a shifting burden of proof. First, it requires plaintiffs to prove that:
- the defendant designed the tire,
- the plaintiff was hurt, and
- the tire’s design was a substantial factor in the plaintiff’s injuries.
Then, the defendant has the burden of proving that the benefits of the tire’s design outweighed the risks. Factors include:
- the severity of the potential harm from using the tire,
- the likelihood that this harm would occur,
- the feasibility of an alternative safer design, at the time of the tire’s manufacture,
- the cost of an alternative design, and
- the disadvantages of an alternative design.4
Manufacturing defects are problems that crop up during the tire’s production. They can be widespread, like a plant’s decision to use inferior rubber during the manufacturing process, or unique to a particular tire, like if a worker punctures an air tube while assembling it. Proving a manufacturing defect in California requires evidence that:
- the defendant manufactured, distributed, or sold the tire,
- the tire had a manufacturing defect when it left the defendant’s possession,
- the victim was hurt, and
- the tire’s defect was a substantial factor in the victim’s injury.5
Motorists pursuing a strict liability case against a tire manufacturer should strongly consider establishing an attorney-client relationship with a legal team of trial lawyers from a reputable law firm with a history of getting good verdicts in accident claims. With the legal advice of a personal injury lawyer, people who have suffered serious injuries in vehicle accidents from a defective product can recover the compensation they need.
Warning defects are problems with how the tire is marketed. An example could be if a tire company claims that their brand of tire never needs to be rotated, and then the lack of rotation leads to uneven wear that causes an accident.
To prove that the tire suffered from a warning defect in California, plaintiffs have to prove that:
- the defendant was the manufacturer, distributor, or retailer of the tire,
- the tire had potential risks that were known or knowable in light of the industry’s generally accepted knowledge at the time of the tire’s manufacture or sale,
- those potential risks presented a substantial danger when the tire was used as intended, or misused in a reasonably foreseeable way,
- ordinary consumers would not have recognized the potential risks,
- the defendant failed to adequately warn consumers of those risks,
- the plaintiff was harmed, and
- the lack of warnings was a substantial factor in causing the plaintiff’s harm.6
What compensation is available in California?
With the help of a personal injury attorney, victims who have been hurt in a defective tire accident can recover compensation for their:
- medical expenses, including for future medical care,
- lost wages,
- reduced earning capacity,
- pain and suffering,
- loss of consortium, and
- property damage.
They can also recover compensation for other losses that stem from the accident. For example, if the accident put the victim in a wheelchair, the victim can pursue compensation for a wheelchair ramp to their house.
If the defendant’s conduct was especially wrongful, punitive damages may be available.
- California Civil Jury Instructions (CACI) No. 400.
- Demara v. The Raymond Corp., 13 Cal.App.5th 545 (2017).
- CACI No. 1203.
- CACI No. 1204.
- CACI No. 1201.
- CACI No. 1205.