The installation of vehicle tires appears to be a routine task. It can be performed by a variety of stores and centers. When tires are installed incorrectly, however, the consequences can be life-changing, even fatal. A federal lawsuit, filed in May 2017, alleges that the Walmart Tire & Lube Center that was responsible for installing new tires on a family vehicle acted negligently by installing the two new tires on the front axle, instead of the rear one. This allegedly led to a tread imbalance, which may have caused the vehicle to spin out of control and crash into a tree.
This Massachusetts car accident occurred in the morning, on a day when the road conditions were icy. The driver, a student at a local high school, was pronounced dead at the scene. The passenger, also a student, survived the crash, but he was in a coma for weeks. He suffered serious brain damage and will allegedly require a caretaker for the rest of his life. The police report noted that both the driver and the passenger were wearing seat belts.
The parents of the two teens involved in the car crash filed the lawsuit against the defendant in federal district court. The complaint alleges five causes of action against the defendant, including conscious pain and suffering, negligence, and wrongful death. In addition, the family’s attorney previously submitted a demand letter to the defendant, specifying the damages as $18.5 million.
Under Massachusetts law, the elements for a negligence claim based on a car accident include proof by a preponderance of the evidence of (i) a duty, (ii) a breach of that duty by the defendant, (iii) causation, (iv) proximate cause (a limitation that only allows the defendant to be liable for harm that he or she could have foreseen), and (v) damages.
The lawsuit complaint alleges that the defendant disregarded industry standards and installed the two new tires on the front axle, and as a result of the negligent tire placement and resulting tread imbalance, the teens’ car spun out and caused a fatality in one instance and life-long injuries in the other. In response, the defendant alleges that it is in possession of a work order that states that the automotive technicians installed the tires on the back axle. If this is true, it could potentially undercut the plaintiff’s lawsuit. However, the family’s attorney alleges that the work order is erroneous because at the time of the accident, the new tires were on the front axle, and no one else had changed the tires since the defendant had installed them.
If you or a loved one is in a car accident because of improper tire installation, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible. Attorney Michael O. Smith is an aggressive advocate for car accident victims. Call us at 617-263-0060 or complete our online form to schedule a no-obligation consultation.