Is a tire shop liable for damage caused by not tightening lug nuts and a tire coming off?

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Is a tire shop liable for damage caused by not tightening lug nuts and a tire coming off?

My sister had a tire company mount install 4 tires on her car, the business is located close to her home so she didn’t notice any problems till the next day. She went back in, complaining that :the car was handling like sh!t

Asked on January 21, 2017 under Business Law, Washington

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

If they won't voluntarily pay compensation (the fact that they have insurance is irrelevant: they are not required to submit claims to their insurer, and even if they do, the insurer is not obligated to pay), your sister would have to sue them and prove in court by a "preponderance" of the evidence that they improperly tightened the lug nuts, which led to the accident. Only by suing and getting a court judgment in her favor would someone (tire company or insurer) be required to pay. She would almost certainly need the tow truck driver who examined the tires to testify as to what he saw, as not only the person who examined the tires but someone who has the training and/or experience to know what he's talking about; that means that if she sues, to have a reasonable chance of proving that the lugs were loose, she would likely need to subpoena the tow truck driver for the trial. Even with him, winning is not guaranteed, since winning is *never* guaranteed in court (never believe a lawyer who tells you it is guaranteed), but at least with him, your sister would have a reasonable chance; without him, it is very unlikely that she could prove her case.


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