Everyone knows big-rig trucks have multiple tires. The increased number of tires helps to add stability to the ride by spreading out the pressure of the weight, decreasing the amount of pressure on any single tire. Even so, large trucks remain susceptible to the risks associated with defective tires and tire blowouts. Unfortunately, tire-related issues cause more than 730 deaths across the United States each year.
A tire blow out often causes the driver to lose control of the vehicle. As soon as the blow out occurs, the vehicle may aggressively pull toward the side with the blown-out tire. This unexpected change in direction may hinder a driver’s ability to safely maneuver the vehicle. In spite of the driver’s best efforts to stop the vehicle, trucks often continue moving at a high rate of speed after a blowout. In a big truck, high speeds coupled with a loss of control can cause catastrophic accidents, resulting in severe injuries and death. If you or a loved one has been a victim of a truck related accident they can potentially recover compensation from talking to an experienced truck accident attorney. For more information read on or contact Dolman Law Group.
What Causes Tire Blowouts?
Some common causes of tire blowouts include:
- Overloaded vehicles. Exceeding the weight capacity of the trailer, even if the truck can physically hold the cargo can lead to a tire blowout. Overloaded vehicles add increased pressure on the tires, heightening the risk of a blowout.
- Road Hazards. Potholes and other obstacles on the road may inadvertently cause a tire to blowout. When a tire moves over something hard or sharp in the road, the pressure in the tire often changes abruptly. This abrupt change in pressure puts more stress on the walls of the tire, increasing the risk of a blowout.
- Small punctures. Often, small punctures in a tire can go unnoticed. Drivers may not realize that the tire is slowly leaking air until the tire pressure is significantly low. Low air may cause more pressure on the walls of the tire than they are built to withstand.
- Sharp objects in the road. In some cases, truck drivers may roll over something sharp in the road without noticing. If the sharp object punctures the wall of the tire on the spot, it can lead to a blowout accident.
- Defective tires. At times, defective tires that cannot safely hold together make it out of the factory and onto big trucks. Defective tires, even when new, can cause serious tire blowout accidents.
Who Bears Responsibility for a Defective Tire Accident?
The unpredictable nature of defective tire accidents can, quite possibly, lead to serious injuries suffered by those involved. The sheer size of a big-rig truck often causes more substantial injury when compared to accidents involving smaller vehicles. Some of these injuries may include traumatic brain injury, spinal cord damage, and amputation. Who bears the cost associated with your accident?
The tire Manufacturer
If a tire is defective when it leaves the factory, the tire manufacturer may bear responsibility for the damages caused by a blowout accident. Defective tires may lack appropriate tread or wall strength to support the weight of the loads hauled by big-rig trucks. In some cases, a defective tire will initially show no signs of irregularity. However, over time, however, the tire may begin to wear, often much faster than a properly-manufactured tire.
Tire manufacturers have a duty to check the quality of each type of tire before it leaves the manufacturing facility. Additionally, manufacturers must perform random quality checks to ensure the tires can withstand the demands of the intended use. When the manufacturer fails to meet the quality standards expected of their tires the manufacturer may face legal penalties.
The tire Distributor
It is uncommon for trucking companies or truck owners to buy tires directly from the manufacturer. Rather, companies often contract with a distributor to provide tires for the entire fleet. Like the manufacturer, the tire distributor must guarantee the tires they distribute meet the required standards of quality. To ensure high quality tires, the distributor must:
- Properly store tires to reduce the risk of wear and tear. Proper storage will afford tires a longer lifespan. A failure to do so can greatly increase the chances that the tires will cause safety issues.
- Quality check tires. The distributor has the duty to check for obvious defects before selling their tires to customers. If the tire is sold with clear signs of defects, the distributor may be liable for any damages resulting from a blowout.
- Provide the right tires for their customers. Distributors must be knowledgeable about the type of tire that is appropriate for the customer’s needs. Providing the incorrect type of tire or tire rating may increase the chances of an accident. If the distributor provides tires that are underrated for the intended weight of the load, they may be liable when a blowout occurs.
The Mechanics Who Installed the Tires
Many trucking companies have a team of mechanics responsible for maintaining the vehicles in the fleet, including the vehicles’ tires. In some cases, mechanics may have the ability to identify tire defects before the tire is fitted to the vehicle. Some readily apparent defects include:
- Bulges or blisters on the tire,
- Clearly uneven tread,
- Cracking or cuts in the sidewall of the tire, and
- A tire that the mechanic cannot properly inflate
A mechanic who installs tires with clear defects may bear responsibility for any accidents caused by those defects. The mechanic who maintains a truck may also be responsible for injuries that occur in a defective tire accident. For instance, a mechanic’s failure to identify defects over time, such as uneven wear of the tire’s tread or a tire wearing more quickly than anticipated, can make the mechanic liable for damages.
The Truck Driver
In some cases, the truck driver may bear responsibility for an accident caused by a defective tire. Truck drivers typically inspect their vehicles before every trip, including a full inspection of the tires. Driving a vehicle, despite visible signs of a tire defect, leaves the driver liable for damages caused by a defective tire accident. Additionally, drivers may be liable for an accident if:
- The driver failed to respond appropriately to a tire blowout. A distracted driver, i.e., one eating or drinking while driving, may lack the ability to appropriately react to a defective tire blowout. Other times, drivers may overreact, turning the wheel too quickly or sharply. When the truck driver fails to respond appropriately during a tire blowout, he may bear liability for the accident.
- The driver ignored the rules of the road at the time of the accident. Speeding can substantially increase the risk of a tire blowout, even with a properly-constructed tire. Ignoring the rules of the road may leave the driver liable for any accident, even those caused by a defective tire.
- The driver ignored known mechanical problems or red flags. Excessive vibration, for example, could signal a defective tire or a problem with the vehicle load. A driver who ignores signs of trouble may bear liability for an accident that occurs after overlooking those signs.
The Trucking Company
Many trucking companies provide insurance coverage to protect the company’s drivers when they are transporting loads for the company. If an accident occurs during a delivery, the company may be responsible for any resulting damages. Additionally, a trucking company may be liable if:
- The company requires drivers to continue driving in spite of suspected defects in the tires or the truck. Some companies insist that drivers continue with their tasks, even if they suggest they cannot do so safely.
- The company ignores mechanic’s recommendations or has policies prohibiting swapping out tires. Replacing tires on a big truck can cause substantial expense for the company. Thus, some companies elect to use tires despite signs of excess wear or other defects. However, failing to replace tires when problems show up can cause even greater expenses in the event of an accident.
How Should You Determine Who Bears Responsibility for Your Defective Tire Truck Accident?
If you recognize that a defective tire caused your truck accident, you may not know who bears responsibility for your injuries. This may make it difficult to figure out where to file your claim. To determine who is liable for damages resulting from a defective tire truck accident, follow these steps:
1. Report the accident to your insurance company. Even if a truck accident wasn’t your fault, you should still report the accident to your insurance company. You may also need to report the damage to your vehicle or close the insurance policy for a totaled vehicle. Often, your insurance company will work with you to help identify the responsible party. Your insurance agent can help communicate with the truck driver’s insurance company and offer valuable advice as to how your claim will proceed. If you did not contribute to the accident, your insurance premiums should not increase.
2. Check the police report. Often, a look at the police report will provide many important details about the truck accident. For example, the police report may be the first indication that a defective tire caused the accident. The report may also include the driver’s speed or other rules of the road ignored by the driver contributing to the accident. Or in some cases, indicate whether other drivers on the road contributed to the accident. For example, pulling over abruptly in front of the truck driver, affecting the driver’s ability to safely react.
3. Contact an attorney. Ultimately, a personal injury attorney is your best resource for determining who bears responsibility for your injuries after a defective tire accident. An experienced personal injury attorney can provide the following services:
- Investigation of all factors that could contribute to a defective tire accident. This includes: checking to see who signed off on the truck before it made its run, talking with the driver to discover whether he identified any potential problems before the truck went out, and checking the company’s policies to determine whether the trucking company might have contributed to the defective tire accident. An attorney may also take a closer look at the defective tire to better determine how the accident occurred and what caused the tire’s damage.
- Consultation with expert witnesses. Many attorneys regularly work with expert witnesses to help better understand the factors that contributed to an accident, including what defect may have caused the tire to blow out or what damage occurred to the tire. Working with a personal injury attorney can provide better access to those expert witnesses, offering more information about your claim.
- Identification of factors affecting your claim. An attorney can identify additional factors affecting your claim, that you otherwise would not consider.
Working with an attorney allows them to negotiate on your behalf. This may include engaging in settlement negotiations with the trucking company or tire manufacturer to recover compensation for the costs associated with your accident. An attorney can help take some of the weight off of your shoulders by communicating on your behalf. An attorney can also help you better understand the compensation you deserve for your injuries, preventing you from accepting a settlement that does not reflect your needs.
If you suffered injuries in an accident with a truck due to a defective tire, you may need an experienced truck accident lawyer by your side. Contacting an attorney as soon as possible can help identify who bears liability in your defective tire truck accident and get the compensation you deserve.
Dolman Law Group
800 N Belcher Rd
Clearwater, FL 33765
Phone: (727) 451-6900