Two Separate Tire Blowout Wrecks on I-95
In April 2019, two separate tire blowout wrecks on two sections of Interstate 95 killed two people and sent five others to local hospitals with serious injuries.
One wreck occurred on northbound I-95 near mile marker 104 in Martin County. After the tire tread separated on a 2004 Chevrolet Trailblazer, the 31-year-old driver lost control of her SUV. The vehicle careened off the road and overturned. First responders rushed her and three passengers to nearby hospitals. Two passengers survived, but the driver and a 9-year-old girl did not.
In the other incident, on Interstate 95 in West Palm Beach, a 25-year-old woman lost control of her 2003 Dodge Caravan when the rear tire blew out. The vehicle veered off the highway and flipped over. Although they were all wearing seat belts, all four occupants were ejected from the van. First responders transported them all to local hospitals with serious injuries.
Both these wrecks are still under investigation.
Defective Products in Car Crash Claims
When two vehicle collisions occur in basically the same place, basically the same time, and in basically the same way, there almost has to be a common denominator.
In this instance, the common denominator may have been a defective tire. Over the last several years, minivans and SUVs have gotten bigger, heavier, and more maneuverable. Tires have not always kept pace with these advances.
In a Florida car crash claim, there are usually two kinds of defective products:
- Design Defect: A few people may remember the fire-prone Ford Pintos of the 1970s. To cut costs, and thereby increase profits, Pinto engineers placed unprotected gas tanks outside the rear axle. So, they were prone to rupture and explosion, even in relatively low-speed crashes. The design was defective and clearly placed profits before people.
- Manufacturing Defect: More people may remember the defective Takata airbags from the 1990s and early 2000s. The airbags were safe on the drawing board. But executives replaced the reliable chemical propellant with a cheap substitute. As a result, the airbags were prone to explosion, even in relatively low-speed crashes. Once again, the company clearly put profits before people.
If a design or manufacturing defect substantially caused the victim/plaintiff’s injuries, the manufacturer may be liable for compensatory and punitive damages as a matter of law. Negligence, or lack thereof, is completely irrelevant.
Product misuse is probably one of the most common defenses in these cases. For example, using an emergency jack to elevate a car and service it may be product misuse. The same thing may apply if a vehicle owner put car tires on a large vehicle or failed to properly maintain the tires.
Damages Available in Port St. Lucie
All car crash victims are entitled to economic damages. This money takes care of out-of-pocket expenses, like medical bills, property damage, and lost wages. In Florida, these damages are usually available no matter who was at fault for the car crash.
Most car crash victims are also entitled to noneconomic damages. To receive compensation for pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment in life, and other such losses. The victim must have sustained a serious injury. The law defines a “serious injury” as:
- Any permanent injury,
- Wrongful death,
- Significant disfigurement or scarring, or
- Permanent impairment of an important bodily function.
If your vehicle was not drivable after the crash, you probably sustained a serious injury.
Finally, some car crash victims are entitled to additional punitive damages. These damages, which are very common in defective product cases, are available if there is clear and convincing evidence that the defendant intentionally disregarded a known risk. In the above examples, Ford and Takata knew that they were putting people at risk, but they still put profits before people.
Contact a Dedicated Lawyer
Defective product crash victims may be entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced Port St. Lucie car accident attorney, contact Eighmie Law Firm, P.A. You have a limited amount of time to act.