$18 Million Lawsuit against Wal-Mart Illustrates Danger of Negligent Auto Repair Services


March 20, 2013

While motorists may not be surprised that negligent drivers, manufacturers of defective vehicles and public entities responsible for the safe road design can be liable for car accident injuries caused by their negligence, fewer people consider the potential liability of an automobile repair business.

The potential importance of this source of liability is evidenced by a recent Maryland lawsuit that resulted in the jury awarding $18.9 million against Wal-Mart Stores Inc. for a fatal accident that alleged occurred because of an unsafe tire repair. 

The lawsuit alleged that Wal-Mart was negligent for installing a new tire on an eroded rim, which caused the fatal car accident after the rim failed according to a report detailing the accident and wrongful death case in the Maryland Daily Record.  The mother and her two children who died in the crash were part of a group returning from a trip to California when their tire went flat in Iowa.  According to the report, evidence presented at trial indicated that Wal-Mart installed the tire on the rusted and eroded rim, and it failed eight hours later.  According to the attorney for the families of the wrongful death victims, there are industry standards and training materials that warn against installing a new tire on a rusted rim.

The importance of the jury’s determination that Wal-Mart was liable for faulty repair of the tire cannot be overstated.  While the other driver was also named as a defendant in the wrongful death lawsuit, the jury determined that the other driver was not negligent.  Because the other driver was exonerated, the families may have been left without a viable source of recovery had the tire repair center not been found to have been negligent by the jury.

If you have ever been to a tire center and had the frustration of being informed they will not repair a tire for liability reasons, this case reveals why the tire center may have been doing the right thing.  Sometimes it is not safe to repair a tire so the only option is replacement.  Examples of problems with a tire that may make it unsafe to simply seal a leak in the tire include: 

  • Damaged rim
  • Bubbling or cupping of the tire
  • Steel belts exposed
  • Excess tread wear

Vehicle repairs shops and tire centers must act prudently and follow industry standards when performing repairs, which includes replacing parts that cannot safely be repaired.  When auto repair businesses fail to properly perform maintenance on your tires, brakes and other vehicle systems, the failure or malfunction of the part that is repaired improperly can result in serious motor vehicle accidents.

If you or someone you love is involved in a car accident in Georgia caused by improper repair of a vehicle, our experienced Atlanta motor vehicle accident attorneys may be able to seek damages for your injuries. 

The Georgia car accident lawyers at Montlick and Associates are available to provide effective legal representation to clients throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state.  No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you.

Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333).  You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Category: Auto Accidents

Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.