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Who Is Liable for a Runaway Tire Accident?     

Posted on May 23, 2024 in Car Accidents

The tires of a vehicle are integral to its ability to function safely and properly. If one tire is not properly attached or fastened onto the car, it could detach during a drive. This is known as a runaway tire or wheel runoff, and it can have catastrophic consequences for the driver of the car and surrounding individuals.

liability for runaway tire accidents

What Is a Runaway Tire?

A runaway tire refers to the tire of a motor vehicle coming loose, falling off and rolling freely in the middle of a drive. In these situations, the tire can fly off the car at high velocity and continue spinning or rolling. The runaway tire could strike other motor vehicles and cause a car accident.

A runaway tire could also hit bicyclists and pedestrians nearby, often at high speed. In some cases, runaway tires bounce into cars, businesses and houses and cause significant property damage. In addition to harm caused by the runaway tire, the motor vehicle that lost the tire may lose control and crash. 

It may not be possible for the driver of the car to safely stop, pull over or steer the car to a safe location due to the missing tire. The sudden loss of a tire may cause the car to crash into surrounding vehicles, causing a sideswipe or multi-vehicle collision. The vehicle may also cross into oncoming traffic or veer off the road.

Holding Someone Liable for a Runaway Tire Incident in California

Determining liability for a runaway tire accident in California requires identifying the cause of the tire detachment under the state’s fault-based car insurance law. This allows injured crash victims to seek financial compensation from the person or party at fault for the accident.

Runaway tires are often the result of vehicle maintenance issues or part malfunctions. If a car or truck is not properly maintained by the owner, it could experience issues that result in an improperly or poorly fastened tire, such as loose lug nuts, overly tightened bolts, and wear-and-tear that compromises the integrity of wheel parts.

The Owner of the Vehicle

Vehicle owners have a responsibility to regularly inspect their tires for potential problems. They must take their vehicles to professional auto shops for tire repairs, replacement and installations as necessary. Negligent vehicle ownership could lead to a badly installed tire or worn-out parts, resulting in the tire coming loose and falling off on a drive.

A Trucking Company

If a commercial truck or 18-wheeler loses a tire, the trucking company could be held liable. Trucking companies must obey federal safety rules and regulations pertaining to truck inspections, maintenance and repairs. 

Violating any of these rules or cutting corners on maintenance to save money could lead to company liability for a runaway tire accident. A trucking company could also be held vicariously liable for a negligent truck driver who failed to properly inspect the truck’s tires. These cases are notoriously difficult to navigate without the assistance of a Ventura truck accident lawyer

Maintenance or Repair Team

Auto mechanics are required to install tires using all of the proper tools and equipment. If a mechanic does not adhere to professional standards (e.g., he or she does not properly tighten the lug nuts or misuses an air impact wrench), the repair shop could be held responsible for a related runaway tire accident.

A Product Manufacturer

If any component of the tire or tire fixture contains a defect, such as a design flaw, manufacturing mistake or marketing error, the product manufacturing company or distributor could be held responsible for a runaway tire accident. A product liability claim may result in compensation awarded to an injured victim without requiring proof of fault or negligence under the strict product liability rule. 

If you were recently involved in a runaway tire accident in California, discuss your case at no cost with a Ventura car accident lawyer at Rose, Klein & Marias LLP.