Kelley Uustal Trial Attorney
March 6, 2015

Tire Failure Causes Fatal Crash on I-75

An SUV rolled and crashed on Interstate-75 Wednesday morning when one of its tires separated from the tread, causing the driver to lose control of the vehicle and wreck.

Emergency responders pronounced the driver dead at the scene of the auto accident. An additional six victims were taken to nearby hospitals for treatment in Fort Lauderdale and Plantation. Five passengers survived the crash, and one was pronounced dead later that day at the hospital.

The accident blocked eastbound I-75 for four hours while officials investigated the scene of the wreck.

Understanding Tire Tread Failure Accidents

The accident is still under investigation, but news sources reported that tire failure caused the SUV to wreck. In 2003, the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimated the more than 10,000 accidents and 400 fatalities were caused by tire defects or failures.

While some instances of tire failure are cause by weather conditions, overloading, under-inflation, and over-inflation, many are the result of defective tires – tires with dangerous flaws that lead to blow outs, tread separation, and accidents.

In fact, the NHTSA believes that tread separation is the number-one cause of tire failures.

Attorney John Uustal, a partner at Kelley/Uustal, has extensive experience helping families who have suffered injuries or the loss of the loved one because of a tire defect.

“I have handled cases from all over the world involving tire tread separations on Ford sport-utility vehicles, but it hit close to home to see an article in my local paper about yet another deadly tread separation, this time on a 2004 Ford Expedition,” he said.

“I remember the war Ford waged against us in these cases, the satisfaction of resolving those cases for the families who suffered, and the hope that no one else would die in a Ford Explorer in that way. My heart goes out to the families involved in this latest rollover in Weston, Florida.”

Navigating a Tread Separation Lawsuit

Victims of tread separation and tire failure accidents have the right to seek compensation for their injuries, losses, and other damages – but fighting for compensation isn’t easy.

According to John, it is imperative to gather evidence immediately following the accident.

“I am sure the families have more important things on their mind,” he said, “but I hope someone is preserving the evidence regarding the tires and the vehicle.”

Important pieces of evidence include:

  • Pieces of the tire from the scene of the accident
  • Photographic documentation of tire marks on the ground
  • Vehicle tires, once released by homicide investigators
  • Documentation of the tire condition from a tire expert

In this specific case, John recommends photographing the scene at the time of day when the accident occurred, preferably before daylight savings.

“Ford has a history of blaming the driver in cases like this, and the evidence showing that the driver did nothing wrong needs to be collected and preserved. The driver, in this case, St. Pierre Mellien, was tragically killed by the tread separation. He will not be alive to defend himself – only the physical evidence can speak for him.”

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