Does a tire blowout sound minor? It isn’t. Tire blowouts are enormously dangerous. If you experience one, it can send your car careening into other lanes of traffic or even off the road entirely. If a vehicle near you experiences one, it can send their vehicle careening into other lanes of traffic, off the road—or straight at you. If are stuck dealing with the consequences of a truck tire blowout then contact the Law Offices of Ivan M. Diamond. An experienced truck accident attorney can help you determine your legal options.
Nationwide, tire-related accidents caused 738 deaths in the last year for which statistics are available, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). But the actual number may be far greater. Why? Just because tire blowouts can be the precipitating cause of an accident not classified as tire-related. Drivers often lose control of their vehicles when tires blow, for example.
In addition, tire blowouts often cause debris—the tread and other material from the tires are scattered all along the road. In cars and smaller vehicles, the tread doesn’t pose a large danger, although it can present serious hazards if it blows in the air and obstructs someone’s vision or hits their car. But the tread on large trucks like tractor trailers is extremely large and heavy. A truck’s tire blowing out can cause this large and heavy tread to be an accident-causing obstacle in its own right, shattering windshields and causing destruction.
Trucks Pose a Particular Danger
In fact, trucks pose a particular danger on the roadways in the event of a blowout. Large commercial trucks are much bigger, much heavier, and much longer than other vehicles on the road. Because a tire blowout can cause drivers to lose control of their trucks, there is a risk that the truck could hit vehicles much smaller than it—or multiple vehicles, if the truck rolls over or jackknifes, two accidents in which parts of the truck may be spread across multiple lanes. Trucks can easily jackknife or rollover if a tire blows, especially if the driver is traveling at high speeds.
What Causes Tire Blowouts?
Tire blowouts occur when the tire either loses air pressure due to a puncture, suffers some sort of damage, or is overloaded—which means the vehicle on which the tire sits can be overloaded. The likelihood of blowouts increases in hot weather and over long distances driven, because they cause the tires to overheat.
Specifically, the following can cause tire blowouts in both cars and trucks.
- Improper inflation, either underinflating or overinflating
- Small puncture releasing air
- An overloaded vehicle
- Damage, such as running over glass, nails, potholes or hitting a curb
- Overheated tires
- Poorly maintained tires
- Worn tires
- Defective tires
Wait, you may be thinking. Aren’t all defective tires recalled? Yes, they should be. But a recall does not mean that tires are taken off vehicles and retired. Drivers should be notified about the recall if they have purchased tires that are later recalled, by the tire’s manufacturer. (The NHTSA investigates complaints about defective tires and determines whether a recall is necessary. To see if tires are under recall, check its website here.)
The manufacturer is required to repair, replace, refund or in some cases to repurchase the defective tire. But it is up to the person or company that receives the recall notice to take action to get the tire fixed (or replaced). Unfortunately, some people and companies may not take that action, or may not receive the notice. The net result? Their vehicles may have defective tires.
Who Is Responsible if I’m Hurt in an Accident Caused by a Tire Blowout?
Responsibility in a vehicle accident is based on who caused the accident. Drivers owe a duty of care by virtue of getting a driver’s license, to drive safely, maintain their vehicles in proper working order, and obey all traffic laws.
If a tire blowout accident is caused by failure to maintain the tires in good condition or to take appropriate action if they were recalled, for example, the driver or owner of the vehicle could be deemed to have violated the duty of care. A violation of the duty of care is negligence. Negligent drivers can be liable for injuries caused in an accident resulting from their negligence.
If a defective tire blows out and causes an accident, the manufacturer of the tire can be deemed negligent and thus liable. Manufacturers owe a duty of care to ensure that their products are safe before they are sold to the public.
Laws and Regulations Involving Trucks
Trucks follow the same negligence and liability standards, but because more parties are involved in maintaining, repairing, inspecting, and loading a truck, an accident caused by a truck blowout can be more complicated.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) requires that all commercial trucks be periodically maintained, inspected, and repaired. The driver should also inspect the truck periodically during a run.
FMCSA also mandates that any truck found to be unsafe during maintenance, inspection, and repairs be taken off the road until it is safe.
This should result in only safe commercial trucks being driven on the nation’s highways. No worn tires should ever cause a blowout. But unfortunately, not every truck company or owner follows these mandates.
In addition, more entities may contribute to the operation of a truck. Some companies hire contractors to perform the maintenance. If improper maintenance or repair causes a tire blowout, and it is found that the contractors were negligent, they can be liable rather tan the trucking company or owner.
The cargo of a truck can also play a role in truck accidents. If loads are too heavy or not balanced correctly, they can either cause or contribute to a truck blowout accident. If cargo isn’t fastened securely, and a blowout causes a truck to jackknife or rollover, the cargo can itself become a deadly obstacle.
In trucks, several parties may have been negligent, because all owe a duty of care to carry out their duties and ensure safe operation of the truck. Because of the possible complications, an investigation of what and who caused a trucking accident is often required.
Assessing liability in tire blowout accidents with either a car or truck can be complicated. If you need assistance, contact an experienced truck accident attorney today.