A deadly interstate crash in Johnston County, North Carolina (NC), raises several questions regarding fault and liability for settling insurance claims. The fatal wreck occurred near the community of Coats Crossroads at the interchange between I-40 and Highway 210 a little before 6 pm on November 4, 2010.
State Highway Patrol investigators believe the accident started when an a rear tire on an SUV traveling west lost its tread. That caused the driver of the SUV to lose control, run across the median, rollover several times and collide with a vehicle traveling in the opposite direction. The SUV's driver lost his life and his front seat passengers sustained serious injuries. Five members of a family in the other vehicle, including three children, required hospital treatment for injuries.
Authorities told reporters they are looking into whether speeding or alcohol use by the SUV driver played a role in causing the crash. The tire will also need to be analyzed. If it came from a production lot subject to recall or had design defects that made it prone to losing tread, the tire manufacturer may bear some responsibility.
Badly designed and poorly made tires have been linked to thousands of traffic injuries and deaths. Using an unsafe tire on his SUV would not necessarily excuse the deceased driver from fault if he committed some negligent or reckless act, but a bad tire could constitute grounds for a wrongful death defective product claim. The injured survivors could also file insurance claims against a tire company that made and marketed an unsafe product.
Sorting out all these investigative and legal issues will be difficult. Working with a dedicated and knowledgeable Carolina personal injury lawyer will help the injured individuals and the family of the man who lost his life know, protect and exercise their rights.