$2.1 Million for Wrongful Death in Car Accident Caused by Faulty Tire Maintenance

Harris Feldman represented a family that lost a child and had another child severely injured when they lost control of a motor vehicle on a wet roadway. The police investigation revealed that the car’s rear tires were almost bald, despite the fact that the car had been recently serviced by two different repair shops.

Tires are a critical component of vehicle safety, and decades of research into tire performance have illustrated that newer tires should always be placed on the rear of a vehicle. That may seem counterintuitive, but doing so prevents vehicles from spinning out – a condition known as “over-steer.” Crash data shows that over-steer is far more deadly that the “under-steer,” which would result from worse tires on the front of a car.

Harris Feldman’s clients were owners of a vehicle that was set aside for use by their nanny. In the summer of 2011, the vehicle had a flat tire. So, the owners brought the vehicle to be serviced at a specialty tire shop. The vehicle was inspected by a technician and the owners were told that the single tire should be replaced, even though the industry standard says that auto repair facilities should recommend replacing all four tires at one time and with the same brand and type of tire. The technician recorded that the tread depth of two of the tires was 4/32nds – the minimum allowable tread depth is 2/32nds. Harris’ clients were not made aware that the tread depth was so close to the legal limit. They were also not advised to replace more than the single tire. Additionally, the tire installed on the vehicle was a different brand than the tires already on the car.

Several weeks later, and several weeks prior to the crash, Harris’ clients brought the vehicle to another shop for yearly maintenance. That shop made no mention of the condition of the tires and provided no advice at all. More importantly, an invoice indicated that the tires were “rotated” during that service visit.

Harris filed suit on behalf of the family, claiming that the tire and auto repair industry has now long recognized that placing worn tires on the rear of a vehicle when newer tires are in the front is known to cause the same kind of dangerous loss of control experienced in this crash. Harris argued that one or both of the repair facilities were responsible for the improper placement of the tires and that both failed to warn his clients of the condition of the tires on the vehicle.

The claims were settled against the several defendants for $2,100,000.