Defective Tires: Close up of a flat tire in traffic

Tire Defects and Single-Vehicle Crashes

Single-vehicle crashes are among the most challenging types of cases handled by Beasley Allen’s personal injury and products liability lawyers. Clients whose loved ones have been killed or seriously injured in a single-vehicle accident come to us seeking advice and answers.

It is not unusual for a single-vehicle crash to occur due to a defect in the vehicle or some component — a defective tire, for instance. Tire defects can be easily overlooked without a careful investigation, leaving the victim without answers. When a thorough investigation turns up evidence of an auto product defect, accident victims and their families can get answers about what happened.

In May 2020, the Arkansas Court of Appeals upheld a $1.2 million verdict for a plaintiff in a defective tire lawsuit against Hankook Tire Company of South Korea and its U.S. subsidiary. Elmer Philpot, a dump truck driver, filed a defective tire lawsuit after a Hankook 385/65R 22.5 tire failed and caused him to lose control of the vehicle. Mr. Philpot was severely injured when the truck crashed into a ditch.

As in many defective tire lawsuits, Mr. Philpot’s complaint alleged that defects in the tire led to the tire failure that caused his accident and injury. More specifically, he alleged that flaws in Hankook’s design, manufacture, testing, and inspection processes all contributed to the defects that caused the tire to prematurely fail.

Hankook Tire Company is a defendant in a similar case in Alabama. Beasley Allen represents the family of Robert Crum, Jr., a driver who was killed on July 26, 2019, when the same model of tire as in the Philpot case – a Hankook 385/65R 22.5 – experienced a tread separation and failure. The tire failure caused Mr. Crum to lose control of the dump truck he was driving and crash on Highway 22 in Dallas County.

Beasley Allen investigated the crash and found that tire defects caused the tire failure in Mr. Crum’s case. The law enforcement officer who investigated the crash documented evidence at the scene that supported a tire defect, including rim marks on the roadway and damage to the rim of the subject tire as well. Both of these clues were signs that a tire failure caused the wreck.

The defective tire in Mr. Crum’s case was also shredded, yet there were no signs that the rubber materials were significantly cracked or damaged due to underinflation or overloading. This indicated that the tire failure was not the result of improper care, maintenance, or use, but rather due to defects.

Single-vehicle wrecks can leave a client without legal recourse if not thoroughly investigated. That is why it’s essential to investigate the incident and the vehicle involved and determine whether a defective tire lawsuit or other defective component claim is possible.

It would be difficult to overstate the critical role tires play in the safe operation of any motor vehicle. No matter how seemingly harmless, tire defects can potentially result in tread separation or premature tire failure. The cause of the wreck may not always be apparent and requires an extensive investigation.

If you or a family member have been in a crash that you believe was caused by a tire defect, you may have a legal claim for product defect. Please contact Ben Baker or LaBarron Boone, lawyers in our Personal Injury & Products Liability Section. They will gladly work with you to help evaluate, investigate, or assist in your case.

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