You know you must change your oil regularly, but how often are you checking your tires? The tires on a car serve as one of the most important safety features. Yet many drivers do not realize the importance of ensuring that their tires are safe enough to drive on.
Your tires should be adequately filled with air. In many cars now, a tire pressure light will come on to warn you if your air pressure is low. It is important to top up your tire pressure when this light comes on.
Perhaps more important is the tread on your tires. As your tires age, the tread begins to thin out causing your car to lose traction and become a safety hazard. Here are three risks you take while driving on bald tires.
- Heat build up –The roads in Orlando get very hot, especially in the summer. If you drive on tires with very low tread, the amount of heat that hits the tires increases. This can lead to significant tire damage and ultimately put you at risk of an Orlando accident.
- Easier punctures –The tire tread helps protect your tires from being punctured by debris in the road, such as nails or sharp objects. When your tread is low, you increase the risk of puncturing your tire.
- Hydroplaning –In Orlando, rain is not an uncommon occurrence. The tires on your car use tread to grip the road better allowing you to stay safe and avoid an Orlando car accident. When your tires cannot grip the road, you may hydroplane and crash.
While most newer vehicles give a dashboard indicator light if you have a low tire, the vehicle will not tell you whether your tires are old or worn out. Each year, thousands of accidents occur due to bald tires, resulting in severe injuries and even death. Read on to learn more about the risk of bald tires, the liability involved in a driver failing to maintain their tires, and the type of compensation available if you have experienced injury due to a tire failure.
Why Bald Tires Are Risky?
As explained by Bridgestone, the tire’s tread provides the traction needed for a vehicle to travel safely down the road. The tire’s tread wears down a little more with each mile driven until they have minimal or no tread left. At this point, they are bald tires.
When they become bald, there is an increased risk of potentially dangerous issues such as:
- Blowouts caused by the increased heat created through friction between the road surface and the tires. Without tread, this heat increases, weakening the tire material.
- Blowouts or flats resulting from punctures. The tread provides traction on the roadway and protects the tire’s integrity from sharp objects such as rocks or nails. Tires with minimal or no tread do not offer this protection.
- Hydroplaning due to the lack of tread and the inability of the tires to grip wet roads. This lack of tread can also result in the car sliding on gravel or requiring a further stopping distance after the driver has braked.
What Causes Bald Tires?
One of the most common causes of bald tires is the neglect of regular maintenance on the vehicle. This includes failing to have the tires replaced when the tread gets low, having the tires balanced, getting the suspension aligned, and rotating the tires to spread the wearing out evenly over the front and back tires.
Some things that can cause the tires to wear more quickly include:
- Driving on tires that are over or underinflated. Overinflation can stretch the tire beyond its capacity and make it more vulnerable to punctures, while underinflation causes more flex in the sidewalls than intended. When heat builds up in the underinflated tire, it can cause the rubber to separate from the fabric and steel that makes up the tire’s core.
- Failing to have the tires balanced, which prevents them from vibrating at high speeds.
- Failing to ensure that the vehicle’s suspension is aligned can cause the tires to roll at a slight angle instead of straight.
- Heavy braking and aggressive driving on sharp corners.
- Overloading the vehicle so that there is additional weight on the tires.
The Signs of Bald Tires
Even if someone has not committed to a routine maintenance schedule for their vehicle, these tell-tale signs can help them know that their tires are bald.
Those signs include:
- Visible wear bars. The wear bars—also known as treadwear indicators—are about the width of a pencil and run across the tread base from side to side. This is the manufacturer marking when the tire is no longer safe or legal for use.
- The penny trick. If the tread appears worn, the operator can take a penny and insert it so that Lincoln’s head on the coin goes into the groove in the tire’s tread until it touches the bottom. If the top of Lincoln’s head is still visible when you insert the penny into the tread, the tires are bald and unsafe for driving.
- A humming sound that changes with speed, which can indicate a chopped thread or a thumping sound that indicates a flat spot in the tire.
- Tire wobbling at low speeds due to a separation of the tire’s internal belts causing a bubble of pressurized air to form on the tire’s tread.
- Cracks and bulges. All drivers should periodically inspect their vehicles for visible wear or damage. Bulges in the tread or sidewalls or cracks deep enough to expose the tire’s steel belts or body cords can indicate damage that can lead to tire failure and accidents.
The Types of Accidents Caused by Bald Tires
Around 45 percent of American adults have experienced a tire blowout. Tire failure is the cause of approximately 11,000 accidents on U.S. roadways each year and results in around 200 deaths. Bald tire accidents are more likely to occur if the roads are wet, slick, washed-out, or poorly maintained.
Bald tires commonly cause the following types of accidents:
- Rear-end accidents. Contrary to popular belief, no car stops the instant the driver brakes. Instead, braking is a process in which the vehicle will travel a distance before the brakes can pull its weight to a complete stop. Heavier vehicles generally have a longer stopping distance. However, the vehicle’s grip on the road is also a factor in the stopping distance. Suppose a vehicle with bald tires follows another car too closely, or a distracted driver fails to realize that the lead car has stopped or slowed. It will be difficult for the driver of the following vehicle to come to a complete stop before a collision occurs.
- Rollover accidents. When a tire blowout occurs, the vehicle will immediately begin to pull sharply to the left or the right. As the driver attempts to regain control, an overcorrection can occur, or the car can “trip” on an object such as a median or another car and roll over.
- Broadside (T-bone) accidents. This type of accident often occurs at an intersection, when a driver fails to yield the right-of-way to other drivers, such as at a stop sign or a red light. If a vehicle has bald tires, the driver can be unable to stop due to the failure of the tires to have enough traction. This is particularly true if the roadway is wet or slick. Often roads become slick after a rainstorm due to surface oils on the road caused by other vehicles.
- Head-on collisions after the loss of control when the tire blows out, resulting in the vehicle driving into oncoming traffic.
Bald Tires Equal Liability
Most states have laws that establish the minimum tread depth that tires must have to operate on public roadways. For example, in Florida, the minimum tread depth on tires is 1/16th of an inch. This requirement is legally enforceable, and drivers can face fines for operating a vehicle with unsafe tires. Additionally, if the driver causes an accident because their tires are bald, they can be liable for the physical injuries and property damage they cause to others.
Seeking Compensation After an Accident Caused by Bald Tires
Were you injured in an accident caused by another driver operating a vehicle with bald tires? In Florida, individuals injured in automobile accidents must first seek medical treatment coverage and wage loss through their personal injury protection (PIP) policy.
If their injury expenses are more than the limits of their PIP policy or the injury meets the state’s serious injury threshold, the claimant can seek compensation for their injury through Florida’s personal injury claims process.
Other states do not require personal injury protection policies, meaning there, you can seek all compensation for the accident from the liable party, generally through their liability insurance policy.
The personal injury claims process generally involves the injured party’s attorney submitting a demand to the at-fault party’s insurance provider. This demand provides details about the accident and documentation of expenses and requests payment of the claim’s full value.
If the at-fault party’s insurer fails to pay the claim or offers a settlement that fairly compensates the claimant for their injuries, you can file a lawsuit. You must file this lawsuit in civil court within the statute of limitations for personal injury claims in the state where the accident took place. In Florida, the statute of limitations for car accident claims is usually four years from when the accident occurred.
To obtain compensation for expenses and impacts you incurred after being injured in an accident involving a vehicle with bald tires, you must prove that someone else caused the accident. While many bald tire accidents result from a vehicle owner’s failure to maintain their vehicle properly, a vehicle defect can also result in premature wearing of tires or even tire blowouts occurring on new tires.
In those cases, the source of liability would likely be the manufacturer or distributor of the defective vehicle part. The manufacturer is responsible for ensuring that the products it makes are reasonably safe for consumers when used according to labeled instructions.
To prove liability, you must be able to show the following elements of your claim.
- The at-fault party had a duty to take reasonable actions to protect others from incurring injury or property damage. The duty owed by drivers to other roadway users is to operate their vehicles safely and legally.
- A breach of this duty occurred when the at-fault party operated a vehicle with tires with less than the safe or legal tread.
- The breach in the driver’s duty of care led to the accident that injured you. These injuries resulted in expenses and impacts.
The Compensation You Can Receive
The type of expenses and impacts that you can be compensated for if an accident caused by bald tires injured you include:
- The cost of medically treating your injury. This can include expenses such as ambulance transport, emergency treatment, hospitalization, prescription medication, the services of physicians, surgeons, and other staff, the provision of assistive devices such as crutches or a wheelchair, physical therapy, and rehabilitation.
- The income you lost from being too injured from the accident to work and the loss of future earning capacity experienced due to physical disabilities that prevents you from making the income you did before the accident.
- Property damage you incurred as a result of the accident, such as damage to your car.
- Physical pain and suffering and emotional distress.
Do You Need an Attorney to Seek Compensation After a Bald Tire Accident?
While no one is required to obtain the services of an attorney when seeking compensation after an accident, these services can be helpful as you seek the maximum amount of money available for you.
Your attorney will thoroughly investigate the accident to determine liability and insurance resources and help obtain the evidence needed to prove your claim. They can negotiate a settlement on your behalf or represent your case in court. After your claim, your attorney will help you collect your settlement or award. Your attorney is available to provide guidance and answer questions about your claim throughout the process.
The legal process involved in personal injury claims is often overwhelming. With an experienced car accident attorney, it does not have to be, as they bring experience and understanding of the process to your claim.
If an accident caused by a vehicle’s bald tires injured you, let a car accident lawyer answer your legal questions.
Knowledge Equals Power in Orlando Auto Accident Cases
If you have been involved in an accident with a driver whose tires were not safe, you may need the help of an Orlando car accident attorney. Contact Auto Justice Attorney to learn more about how we can help you investigate your accident and obtain the best outcome possible. Call us today at 407-422-4529.