Few things in life are as difficult as losing a loved one in a motor vehicle accident that could – and in many cases should – have been prevented. When the loved one who is lost is a teenager with their whole lives ahead of them, that tragedy seems even more pronounced. Any Missouri or Illinois parent who has had to deal with this heartbreaking situation may have also considered whether to contact a St. Louis personal injury attorney in order to seek justice in a wrongful death lawsuit. What some may not realize, however, is that it could be possible to seek compensation from parties besides a driver believed to have acted negligently. This is one reason why consulting with experienced personal injury lawyers to discuss the specific facts of a case can be so helpful.
Those who perform tire inspections for safety owe a duty to consumers
Take, for instance, the case of an 18-year-old young man who lost his life in a motor vehicle accident involving a pickup truck after it hydroplaned and spun out of control. The driver of that vehicle, also a teenager, had taken her vehicle just three months previously to a Walmart in order to have its oil changed. Rather than just paying for the cheapest option, she chose to pay for a more expensive option that also came with a safety inspection of the tires and various other components. As part of that inspection, Walmart’s technician guaranteed that her tires were perfectly adequate and safe to continue using for the immediate future.
Tragically, however, that did not prove to be the case. The 18-year-old, Justin Flores, lost his life at the scene of a truck accident which ensued when the teenager drove her pickup in a light rain several weeks later and hydroplaned, causing it to swerve off of the highway and roll over. A police investigation determined that the truck hydroplaned due to the fact it had “significantly worn” rear tires, leading to the pickup spinning out of control in the wet road conditions.
As a result, Flores’s mother took action to seek justice for her young son whose life was tragically cut short. She filed suit against Walmart and the driver of the pickup, in addition to a Chevy dealership that performed a state safety inspection on the pickup 18 days before Walmart inspected the vehicle. Walmart attempted to shift blame onto the dealership; but Cantu Chevrolet argued that its inspector determined that the tires were serviceable at the time of its safety inspection and pointed out that another 800 miles had been added to the pickup truck’s tires between that time and when Walmart inspected them 18 days later.
Often, multiple parties can be found liable in truck accident cases
Despite the fact that Walmart then tried to place the focus on the driver’s alleged negligent driving – witnesses maintained she hit speeds between 70 and 85 mph in a 65 mph zone when it was raining – a jury seemed to agree with the argument that even at those speeds, tires with a safe level of tread should not have hydroplaned.
The jury portioned 88 percent of the blame against Walmart and 12 percent against the driver, awarding $27.5 million to the plaintiff. A personal injury attorney representing the victim’s mother expressed the hope that this verdict can serve as a warning to Walmart that it has a responsibility to protect its customers. He said that it represents a “powerful consumer rights verdict” that demonstrates the importance of measuring not just a random point in a vehicle’s tire tread, but taking the measurement at the thinnest point possible in order to get an accurate idea of a tire’s true safety.
Any Missouri or Illinois residents who have lost children or other loved ones in a motor vehicle accident due to an inadequate tire inspection or otherwise defective products may wish to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit to seek financial compensation to help cover any medical, financial or other expenses that have been incurred. While this won’t bring a loved one back, it can help serve as an additional measure of justice against those believed responsible for the death. My St. Louis personal injury law firm stands ready to discuss the facts of your case and whether we might be able to help you gain justice. Please call us toll-free at 1-888-586-7041 to arrange an initial consultation at no charge to you. My firm is paid nothing until – and only if – we collect money on your behalf through settlement or at trial.
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