Family awarded $16.5 million for defective tire in wreck

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Financial settlements over defective products can take years to reach conclusions. The challenge for many victims and family members is being financially stable during a difficult time. There are different types of liabilities that companies can face if they create products that lead to injury or loss of life. Sometimes a simple design defect can have repercussions months or years down the road. Product liability can also occur if someone uses poor materials, shoddy workmanship or fails to warn users of potential risks.

In the case of one car wreck near Macon, the family members of a Bhutanese refugee were awarded $16.5 million for wrongful death and punitive damages in the first of a dozen lawsuits related to the car accident to end. The accident happened on Interstate 75 and involved a van carrying 14 people to work at a poultry plant. Two passengers died when one of the vehicle's tires blew out, including the Bhutanese man. His family sued Michelin North America in 2011 for a faulty tire. They claimed a defect in the tire caused it lose tread and made it veer off-road, hit the guardrail and flip over. After lengthy litigation, a DeKalb County jury agreed and awarded the family $11.5 million in punitive damages from the tire company.

Accidents can happen no matter how careful a driver is because there are certain factors outside of one's control. In the case of the refugee who was killed, the DeKalb County jury said that the driver was 20 percent at fault, but that Michelin North America was 80 percent at fault for making the defective product. The widow of the Bhutanese refugee is set to receive $5 million for the wrongful death of her husband and $20,000 for pain and suffering and to cover funeral expenses.

Expenses can increase for families of loved ones who are hurt or killed due to a defective product. In the case of the family affected here, they first filed their lawsuit in 2011. It took just 2 years to reach a conclusion in that case. The process can be long, but there are several ways to reach a financial settlement on defective products that can help address the financial losses suffered as a result of an unfortunate accident.

Source: TheRepublic.com, "Jury awards $16.5 million to family of Bhutanese refugee killed in van wreck near Macon," Nov. 7, 2013