Unfortunately, tire-related issues cause more than 700 deaths across the United States each year, according to The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Due to the size of the truck and the heavy cargo, they are hauling, crashes involving trucks are particularly dangerous.
When a tire blowout occurs, it can be difficult to determine who is ultimately responsible, and when you have been hurt in a crash, you are left feeling confused and hopeless. You may have serious injuries, high medical costs, and limited ability to return to work. Therefore, it is important that you have an experienced Sarasota personal injury lawyer who can support you.
If you or a loved one has been a victim of a truck-related accident in they can potentially recover compensation from talking to an experienced truck accident attorney. Contact The Law Place in Florida today for a free consultation. Our law firm has a long history of dealing with truck accidents in Sarasota County and throughout the state of Florida. Unlike other law firms, we work as a team to ensure that you can benefit from our combined knowledge and experience, which collectively spans over 75 years. We are available 24 hours a day so that you can speak to us when you need us most by calling (941) 444-4444.
What Happens in a Blowout?
A tire blowout is especially dangerous and frightening for a truck driver and other drivers on the road nearby. When the tire blows out, it makes a very loud gun-shot like sound, and the damage often causes the truck driver to lose control and crash.
When a truck’s tire blows out, the truck will suddenly and violently veer in the direction of 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, taking out any cars that are unfortunate enough to be caught in its path. If the truck flips over, the force of the impact can cause its cargo to spill out into the path of oncoming traffic. Large chunks of the truck’s exploded tire can also strike nearby vehicles.
Causes of Blowouts
Blowouts usually occur from the middle of May through to early October. This is often referred to as blowout season as this is when the weather is warmer and when motorists are driving the farthest in heavy-loaded vehicles. However, blowouts can happen at any time of the year, and there are several main culprits behind them
Causes of Blowouts include:
- Under-inflation – Air is what allows a tire to carry the weight of a truck and its cargo. Without the proper air pressure, the internal components of the tire flex beyond their designed limits. Without the proper pressure, the tire’s internal pieces will over flex, weaken, and eventually fail, causing a blowout.
- Overloading – Even when tires are properly inflated, an overloaded truck trailer can put more weight on the tires than they are designed to handle.
- Potholes – When a truck drives over a pothole, the impact pinches the tire’s internal components between the wheel and the pothole. If the tire hits the pothole hard enough, the pothole will cut through the rubber, and the tire will blow out.
- Maintenance – Failure to properly maintain a truck’s tires can also lead to a blowout. Examples of such poor maintenance include failing to replace the truck’s tires when they wear out or putting off needed repairs. 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.
In Florida, trucking companies are held to very high standards of care to ensure that their vehicles operate safely on the road. In some cases, the truck driver may be responsible for an accident caused by a defective tire. Truck drivers typically inspect their vehicles before every trip, including a full inspection of the tires. It is important that the tire pressure is at the correct level to support the weight of the truck’s cargo. 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.
- 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.
In some cases, liability is traced to a defective tire. This could be a design defect, a manufacturing defect, or a failure by the tire manufacturer to warn of dangers associated with the product.
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 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.
- Quality check tires. The distributor has the duty to check for obvious defects before selling their tires to customers.
- Provide the right tires for their customers. Distributors must be knowledgeable about the type of tires that are appropriate for the customer’s needs. Providing the incorrect type of tire or tire rating may increase the chances of an accident.
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.
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 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 even when there are 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 the 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.
The Importance of an Attorney
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 investigate 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 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. They can also contact expert witnesses to help better understand the factors that contributed to an accident, which caused your injuries.
Contact The Law Place Today for a Free Consultation
If you have suffered injuries in an accident with a truck due to a defective tire in Florida, you will 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.