Victims of truck accidents caused by tire blowouts may be entitled to compensation for their damages
We've all seen it: the rubber remains of a tire on the side of the road. The evidence of tire blowouts has become a common sight along Texas highways and interstates, and a majority of blowouts originate from large commercial trucks.
While some tire blowouts are purely accidental, others are the result of negligence.
If you've been injured in a truck accident caused by a tire blowout, you may have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit to collect compensation.
Common causes of tire blowouts
A “tire blowout” refers to a rapid loss of tire air pressure that can cause a vehicle to lose control.
Tire blowouts are particularly common among large commercial trucks carrying heavy cargo loads due to the intense friction between the wheel and pavement that causes the tire to deteriorate quickly.
Other common causes of truck tire blowouts include:
- Defectively manufactured tires
- Leaking tires
- Low or high air pressure
- Lack of general tire maintenance
- Unbalanced or excessive cargo loads
- Dangerous road conditions (such as potholes, hot temperatures, road debris)
- Mechanical issues (such as misalignments, loose wheel bearings, bent axles)
Why tire blowouts are dangerous
A tire that suddenly explodes can quickly cause damage to the truck itself and the surrounding vehicles on the road.
In general, a blowout will cause a truck to drop to the side of the blown tire and begin pulling in that direction. Most drivers instinctively turn the wheel in the opposite direction and apply the brakes. Unfortunately, these actions can cause a complete loss of control that may result in the truck swerving into another lane, rolling over, or jackknifing.
Even if a driver can keep the truck under control after a blowout, there's no way to determine where debris will fly. Pieces of a tire can travel at high speeds, making it impossible for other cars to get out of the way before impact.
While those 43 children were lucky, the fact remains that blowouts can cause massive accidents resulting in catastrophic injuries and significant property damage.
Liability in a tire blowout truck accident
To recover damages in a personal injury lawsuit, the plaintiff (the injured party) must prove that someone else was at fault for the accident that caused their injuries. Most of the time, the fault for a tire blowout accident is placed on the driver.
Truck drivers and trucking companies have a duty to check their rigs daily to ensure the trucks are in working order. That includes making sure the tires are in good condition, free from any blatant defects, and properly inflated. If a driver or trucking company fails to do so and an accident occurs because of this failure, the driver or trucking company (or both) may be found negligent.
In addition, trucking companies must abide by certain federal and state safety standards designed to prevent blowout accidents from happening in the first place.
For example, tires can’t (in most cases) be filled with anything other than air (silicone, polyurethane, etc.).
Similarly, a commercial motor vehicle can’t be operated with tires that carry greater weight than the weight marked on the sidewall of the tires without a state-issued special permit. The failure to satisfy these state and federal safety standards can mean that the company is liable for any subsequent accident.
Truck drivers and trucking companies aren’t always responsible for tire blowouts though.
For example, the accident could have been caused by a manufacturer's error instead. Tire manufacturers have a duty to create reasonably safe products. Putting a defective product into the marketplace can cause a tire manufacturer to be held liable for an accident.
Other parties that could be held liable for a tire blowout accident include:
- Tire retailers that knew of a tire's defect before a sale
- A mechanic that improperly installed or repaired a tire
- A public entity responsible for maintaining a road (if the blowout was caused by a pothole or some other road condition)
Determining precisely who’s liable for a blowout accident can be tricky. An experienced attorney will conduct an investigation and name every potentially-liable party in the lawsuit.
Damages that can be collected in a tire blowout accident
Once liability has been established, you can recover the following damages in Texas:
- Property damage. This includes any property damage caused by the accident (broken windshield, etc.).
- Medical expenses. This includes past and future medical expenses that are reasonably necessary as a result of the accident.
- Lost wages. This includes reimbursement for missed time at work due to your recovery from your injuries.
- Pain and suffering. Pain and suffering damages address the monetary value of being in pain or traumatized following the accident.
- Wrongful death. If a loved one is killed because of a truck blowout accident, certain family members can receive compensation for funeral costs, loss of companionship, loss of income, etc.
Tips for how to handle a tire blowout
If you experience a blown tire in your vehicle while traveling down a Texas road, take the following steps:
- Grip the wheel. The steering wheel is going to want to turn following a blowout. Grip the wheel tightly with two hands to keep control of the vehicle.
- Adjust your speed. Don’t slam on the brakes. Instead, accelerate briefly to help stabilize the vehicle, and then release the accelerator.
- Steer straight. Your instinct will be to turn in the opposite direction from the blowout, but this can cause all sorts of problems. Instead, drive the vehicle straight down your lane. Turning the vehicle in either direction increases the risk of a spinout.
- Pullover. Put on your turn signal and slowly pull to the side of the road.
- Check the vehicle. Make sure a qualified mechanic checks the vehicle after a blowout before you drive it again to see if any damage was done.
Tire blowout accidents can be terrifying, and the road to recovery is often long. Don’t think you have to do it alone. Use our free online directory to locate an experienced attorney who can help you get your life back in order.
Electronic Code of Federal Regulations, Title 49 of the Code of Federal Regulations
National Highway Traffic Safety Association, Tires
Popular Mechanics, Why Blowouts Happen and How to Avoid Them
Texas Department of Insurance, 5 Tips for Handling a Tire Blowout