Car accidentMost of us, as we’re driving, keep an eye on other drivers’ behaviors to make sure they don’t endanger us or our passengers. We also keep an eye out for other hazards, such as deer, debris, potholes, and certain weather conditions that can make driving perilous. But how many of us give any thought to the maintenance of our own car as a threat to our safety? Even when you do your part and take your vehicle in to a licensed mechanic, disaster can strike.

Our office recently settled such a disaster, resulting in a seven-figure settlement for a victim of a negligent repair job. Approximately one week after getting her tires replaced, one of her wheel assemblies became separated from its mount, causing the vehicle to come to a violent and forceful stop. The wheel had been improperly re-installed.

The injuries from this type of event can be catastrophic. In this case, the victim was totally disabled from working and accrued several hundred thousand dollars in medical expenses. Her injuries included multilevel disc herniations and disc bulging of the thoracic spine, narrowing of cervical spine disc space, disc bulging of the lumbar spine, traumatic brain injuries, and traumatically-induced Chiari malformation symptoms requiring surgery to repair. It is impossible to predict what the future holds for this person, but one thing is certain: her injuries could have been avoided.

It is important to take proper care of your vehicle. Be sure to follow the maintenance schedule provided by the manufacturer. When you do have your car repaired by a mechanic, be sure to ask questions about any subsequent maintenance that may need to be done. This rule of thumb is especially true for tire changes and other wheel repairs – your tire is the only part of your vehicle that actually makes contact with the road.  Remember to ask the repair person, “Did you properly tighten the lugnuts?” and, ” Do I need to get them re-torqued?”