Tires are supposed to remain attached to the vehicle on which they were installed, and fortunately, they usually fulfill that intention. When a vehicle loses a tire, especially at freeway speeds, the consequences can be catastrophic, as recently demonstrated by a car accident on the 57 Freeway just north of Pomona.
A rented U-Haul truck was travelling south on Freeway 57 when it lost a tire. The tire hit a Smart Car, causing the driver to lose control. The Smart Car apparently struck a median barrier or some other object that caused the driver to suffer serious and ultimately fatal injuries. The California Highway Patrol said that no other vehicles were involved in the crash after the tire struck the Smart Car. The possible causes of the tire coming loose were not disclosed by the CHP.
This accident may appear at first blush to have no cause that can be used to establish legal liability. As noted above, however, tires are intended to remain attached to the vehicle and are not supposed to come loose and fly through the air. Several parties may have responsibility for the condition of the U-Haul truck that caused the tire to come loose: the agency that rented the truck, the person or persons who were responsible for maintaining the truck in safe operating condition and anyone who may have worked on the wheel that came loose. Other parties that might be responsible include the owner of the truck (if it was not owned by the rental agency) and the driver of the truck if he knew the wheel was loose.
Anyone who has been injured or lost a loved one in an incident that was called a “freak accident” may wish to consult a lawyer who specializes in auto and truck accidents. Freak accidents are not supposed to happen; when they do, human error is often responsible. A knowledgeable lawyer can identify the parties who might bear liability for the accident, suggest legal strategies for establishing liability and provide an estimate of the likelihood of recovering damages for lost income, medical expenses and pain and suffering.
Source: NBC Los Angeles, “Man Killed in Smart Car Crash,” Gadi Schwartz, Feb. 14, 2016