Truck Tire Blowouts: Danger on the Road
In late September 2017, a terrible truck accident occurred on I-70 in the Mt. Comfort Road area of Buck Creek Township, near mile marker 95.2. A tanker truck ran off the highway, hitting a bridge and spilling thousands of gallons of oil when it split in two. It took HAZMAT teams several hours to clean up the oil, and the interstate was shut down in both directions for more than three hours. The driver was taken to the hospital with critical injuries and has since died.
The reason for the crash? Two of the truck’s tires blew out, and the driver lost control. Between 2009 and 2013, almost 16,000 people died in roughly 14,000 fatal crashes that involved large trucks and buses. The numbers show that tires were a factor in 223 deaths that occurred in 198 crashes.
What Can Go Wrong?
Truck tire blowouts are serious business that can kill the truck’s driver. A blowout can also cause a truck to hit your vehicle, seriously injuring or even killing you and your loved ones. Blowouts are sudden and can startle even the most experienced truck driver with the loud bang and the resulting change in steering. When a tractor-trailer’s tire bursts, the biggest risks come from the following scenarios:
- Driver panic
- Driver losing control
- Loose debris and cargo flying off or out of the truck
Tire blowouts upset a truck’s balance. A truck’s high center of gravity, when combined with a shifting load and possible driver overreaction, can easily create rollovers and other disasters. Drivers can lose control simply by trying to pull the truck over to the shoulder.
Why Do Blowouts Happen?
Tires can blow out due to road defects such as a pothole or an obstacle in the road. Tires that are underinflated or overinflated, worn or weakened, or defective can also create a blowout situation. Overloading the truck’s trailer, thus putting too much weight on the tires, is yet another cause.
One sometimes overlooked cause of blowouts is driving at faster speeds than the tires were meant to support. Tires are designed to be driven at a maximum speed of 75 mph. But in 14 states, legal speed limits can go as high as 85 mph. Safety experts have stated that regularly driving faster than the tires are meant to go can cause excessive heat that eventually makes the tires fail, possibly creating dangerous blowouts.
Who Can Be at Fault in a Blowout-Caused Crash?
Generally, one or more of three parties can be found at fault if negligence is shown:
- The truck driver. The U.S. Department of Transportation requires all commercial truck (CDL) drivers to perform a pre-trip inspection every day they drive, and inspecting the tires is a critical part of the inspection. Drivers can be held responsible if they skipped the inspection. If a pothole or road debris caused the blowout, the driver’s liability may be reduced. A driver’s employer will generally be the one who will pay damages in a tire blowout injury case.
- The maintenance company. Sometimes those responsible for taking care of the tires can be at fault if tire mounting, balancing, inflation, or repairs are found to be wanting. The company can also be found liable if the person who worked on the truck’s tires and wheels was improperly trained.
- The tire manufacturer. Occasionally tires are defective, and there is a history of manufacturers’ producing substandard tires. Often the only way defective tires are revealed is through blowouts and other tire failures. But when manufacturers knew that tires were defective and yet did nothing to rectify the situation, negligence becomes clear.
When something goes wrong, we are left to wonder.
Indiana truck accident cases can be complex legal claims that require thorough investigation and demand aggressive litigation to secure the best possible outcome for the plaintiff. While monetary compensation can never undo the damage done as the result of a truck accident, a financial recovery can ease the burdens caused by overwhelming medical bills, loss of income, and disability.
If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident with a tractor-trailer, we suggest you talk with Indianapolis truck accident lawyer Mike Stephenson. With more than three decades of experience, substantial financial resources to commit to your case, and a commitment to the highest standards of client care, you can count on Mike. Contact him today by calling 1-317-825-5200 for a free accident consultation, or use our online contact form. At McNeely Stephenson, when others breach their duty, we keep ours.