Freak Accident Takes Life of Smart Car Driver | Ellis Injury Law

Freak Accident Takes Life of Smart Car Driver

bad car accident

February 25, 2016

Ellis Law Corporation


A freak highway accident involving a detached truck tire took the life of a Smart car driver in San Dimas earlier this month. The driver was traveling southbound on the 57 Freeway around Covina Boulevard when the detached tire struck the car’s windshield, resulting in the driver’s loss of control of the vehicle.

The tragic crash occurred at approximately 5:45 p.m. on Sunday, February 14. A 1989 Ford truck was moving northbound on the 57 Freeway when the left front tire detached and flew into the southbound lanes where the 2008 Smart car was traveling. The driver of the Smart car, 22-year-old Ryan Mendenhall, lost control, striking the center divider and crossing all four southbound lanes before crashing into a bridge rail.

Mendenhall was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver of the truck, a 53-year-old man from Victorville, was not injured in the crash. The accident is currently under investigation by the CHP, although no charges have been filed at this time. The Smart car was the only vehicle involved in the crash.

Car accident liability

Liability in a car accident like this one can be very difficult to ascertain. While it is very unusual for a tire to become detached from a vehicle in motion, proving why the incident occurred could be challenging. In order to allege wrongful death, the family of the deceased must be able to prove the detached tire was the result of negligence on the part of the owner of the vehicle or the manufacturer or mechanic that placed the tire on the vehicle.

Vehicle owners are responsible for maintaining their vehicles so that they can be safely driven on public streets. If reports indicate the vehicle was not properly serviced and the lack of maintenance was the cause of the detachment, the vehicle owner may be held liable for the accident and the wrongful death of the victim.

On the other hand, if it can be proven that the manufacturer or last mechanic that handled the tire did not install it correctly, liability may be ascertained as well. In this case, the family of the victim would have to be able to prove that bearings in the wheel were improperly installed or another act of neglect led to the defect during the repair process.

California traffic fatalities

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, California saw 3,074 traffic fatalities in 2014, which marked a slight decrease from the previous year. Around 880 of those fatalities involved a driver that was alcohol-impaired. Approximately 900 involved excessive speeds.

If you are injured or someone you love is killed in a traffic accident in Los Angeles, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries, property damage and non-economic losses. However, in order to pursue that compensation you will need to demonstrate liability. In any type of traffic collision, having legal representation is the best way to ensure your rights are protected.

To speak with a veteran personal injury attorney about your rights to compensation, call Ellis Law at 310-641-3335 for a free case evaluation.