An accident in late August 2019 caused the deaths of three people after one of the vehicles suffered a tire blowout. According to authorities, a 48-year-old woman was driving her Chevy Blazer on State Road 50 when her left front tire blew out, causing her to lose control of the vehicle. The vehicle crossed the center line and struck a Ford SUV head-on. The woman and a 54-year-old man driving the SUV both died at the scene. A 49-year-old man who was a passenger in the Blazer later died at Orlando Regional Medical Center due to the injuries he sustained in the crash. A 54-year-old female passenger of the SUV was transported to the hospital with serious injuries.
Having faulty or defective tires significantly increases the risk of a traffic-related crash. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2017, more than 700 people died due to tire blowout type of car accident. If you’ve been injured in an accident that was caused by another vehicle having a tire blowout, you should seek compensation for your injuries. An experienced car accident attorney can help you understand your legal options.
8 Tire Blowout Causes?
Blowout generally refers to a tire suddenly bursting, accompanied by a rapid loss of tire pressure. Several things can cause this to happen, including:
- Low tire pressure, which causes the tire to flex beyond its elastic limits. This leads to the tire material overheating, and the rubber loses its bond to the internal fabric and the steel cords that reinforce it.
- Overloading the vehicle so that the tires are forced to carry a heavier load than they are rated for
- Old tires that have had a lot of sun exposure, poor maintenance, or that feature worn treads
- Impact damage, which may cause an immediate blowout or a delayed one, depending on the severity of the impact
- Potholes, driveway conditions, and other roadway hazards
- Mechanical issues, such as vehicles that are out of alignment or feature loose wheel bearings, bent axles, or axles that flex too much, causing premature wear on the tires
- Defective tires caused by poor design or manufacturing
- Anything that causes air to escape from the tire and that makes it unable to support the weight of the vehicle
A blown tire is more often to occur in the summer than in the winter. The reason for this, Popular Mechanics explains, is the combination of hot roads and drivers who tend to take their vehicles farther and faster, and with heavier loads, in the summertime.
4 Dangers of a Tire Blowout
Tire blowouts are not only dangerous to the driver, but also to other vehicles on the road. Here are some of the reasons why:
- A car with a blown tire is harder to control. A blown tire in the front of the car will likely make the car veer either to the left or to the right, depending on which side the blowout occurred. A blown tire on the back of the vehicle, particularly when it occurs at high speed, may cause a condition known as a fishtail, in which the rear of the car begins to skid. As the NHTSA notes, a front tire blowout will be felt more in the steering of the vehicle, while a blowout to a back tire will be experienced more in the body of the vehicle.
- High profile vehicles such as commercial trucks, vans, or SUVs have an increased chance of rolling over due to the loss of vehicle control caused by a tire blowout.
- A tire bursting or blowing out can result in debris, including large pieces of rubber and steel cording, on the roadway that presents a hazard to other drivers. This is especially true with tractor-trailer tires.
- Those who experience a tire blowout are typically forced to deal with the issue on the side of the road. Disabled vehicles on the side of the road are at an increased risk of being hit by other cars due to distracted drivers or not pulling far enough off the roadway to avoid becoming a traffic hazard.
7 Ways to Prevent a Blown Tire
Some tire blowouts, such as those that are caused by impact, may be beyond your control. However, the key to avoiding tire blowouts caused by issues such as age or worn tread is through regular tire maintenance. Here are some additional tips for keeping your journey free from blown-out tires.
- Regularly inspect your tires. You should check tire equipment, your tread, and your tire pressure once a month. Tires generally have treadwear indicators, which are raised sections that run in between the tire’s tread. When the tread is worn down to the point that it is level with the treadwear indicator, it is time to replace your tires. Another way to check the tread is to place a penny in the tread with Lincoln’s head upside down and facing you. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, your tread is worn and you need to replace your tires.
- Selecting the right size tire. A tire that is too big or too small for your vehicle may increase the risk of a blowout or other tire issues. When it comes time to replace your tires, be sure to select a size of tire that matches the original or that is recommended by the vehicle’s manufacturer. There should be a label on the edge of the driver’s side door that will tell you what size of tire your car takes.
- Tire rotation is an important part of keeping the wear on your tires even. Unless your car has different sized tires on the front and back, you should regularly have them rotated. A common interval for rotation is every 5,000 to 8,000 miles.
- Balancing and alignment are also an important part of regular tire maintenance. Every time you replace your tires, you should have the new ones balanced to ensure that your wheels turn properly and that they don’t cause the vehicle to shake or vibrate. Aligning the wheels of your tire prevents the car from veering right or left while driving on a level road and also prevents uneven wear.
- Perhaps the most important part of tire maintenance is regularly checking your tire pressure. You should keep a tire pressure gauge in your vehicle at all times and should check the pressure in all of your tires, including your spare, once a month when the tires are cold—meaning you haven’t been driving on them for at least three hours. The level of pressure at which you should keep your tires should be listed on the label found on your driver’s side door or in your owner’s manual. Newer vehicles have tire pressure monitoring that activates a warning when your tires are severely under-inflated.
- Avoid overloading your vehicle.
- Watch for potholes and debris on the road that may damage your tires.
What to Do if Your Tire Blows Out
Changes in tires and the advent of cars with tire pressure monitoring systems have made a blown tire less common than a couple of decades ago. It is often a shock these days to experience a blown tire. If it happens to you, here are some steps that the NHTSA recommends that you take to ensure your safety and the safety of others on the road:
- Try to stay calm. Any sudden reaction, including slamming on the brakes or rapidly releasing the accelerator may cause you to lose control of the vehicle.
- Hold the steering wheel with both hands.
- Maintain your vehicle speed whenever possible and safe to do so.
- Gradually release the accelerator and correct steering if necessary to maintain control.
- Once your vehicle has stabilized, slow down, activate your flashers to warn other drivers of a problem, and pull off at a place where it is safe to do so.
Frequently Asked Questions About Blown Tires
Who is liable for an accident caused by a tire blowout?
Drivers are responsible for ensuring that their vehicles are properly maintained and in good repair, including the tires. Therefore, if the tire blows out due to a lack of maintenance or being used while under-inflated or overly-worn, the driver or owner of the vehicle will likely face liability. Liability may also fall on the manufacturer or distributor of the tires if there is a defect in design that causes the tires to blow. For example, Cooper Tire & Rubber Co. recently announced the recall of one of its tire models due to a thin inner liner gauge that could cause the sidewall to fail and a blowout to occur.
I was injured in a wreck that was caused by another driver’s tire blowing out. Who should I file a claim with?
In Florida, all vehicle owners are required to purchase a personal injury protection (PIP) insurance policy before registering their vehicles. This policy is generally the first resource for compensation to cover medical expenses and lost wages due to missing work because of your injury, regardless of who was liable for the accident. Once you have exhausted the limits of that policy or if your injuries are deemed serious, you may file a third-party insurance claim or a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party’s insurance provider. A serious injury in Florida is defined as one that:
- Causes significant and permanent loss of an important bodily function
- Causes permanent injury within a reasonable degree of medical probability
- Causes significant, permanent scarring or disfigurement
- Causes death
What expenses can I obtain compensation for after an accident caused by a tire blowing out?
Your PIP policy covers a portion of your medical expenses for treatment deemed medically necessary to treat your injuries. It also covers a portion of your missed wages. In the event of death, your policy will provide compensation to your loved ones for funeral and burial expenses. If you file a personal injury lawsuit, some of the damages for which you can receive compensation include past and future medical expenses, lost wages, and loss of future earning capacity or career opportunities, the cost of repairing or replacing your car, pain and suffering, and other damages relating to the impact of your injuries on your quality of life.
If I have been in an accident caused by someone else’s tire blowout, why would I need an attorney?
An attorney can help you after an accident, providing you with answers to your legal questions and helping you understand the options available to you for seeking compensation. Your attorney can also help you file a claim with your PIP provider or a third-party claim with the other driver’s insurance company. The attorney can help you establish a value to your case, which is the amount of money you intend to ask for in a claim, based on the facts of your case and the expenses you’ve incurred.
Additionally, an attorney is useful when it comes time to negotiate with insurance companies for a settlement amount that will fairly compensate you. If a settlement is not forthcoming, your attorney can provide experienced representation in all pre-trial and trial matters, including timely filings, hearings, deposing of witnesses, opening statements, and the questioning of experts hired to help present the details of your case and the impacts that your injuries have had on your life. Once a judge has determined that you should receive compensation, your attorney can help you with the collection of it and can also provide representation at the appellate level if the defendant should appeal the verdict.
What if the tire blowout that caused my accident was from a commercial truck?
Accidents involving commercial trucks often present more serious injuries. They also tend to present more potentially liable parties—including the trucking company, the shipper, the entity responsible for maintaining the truck, or the manufacturer of possibly defective tires—as well as more sources of insurance policies from which to seek compensation.
If your accident was caused by a tire blowout, and you have questions about how to recover compensation, call a motor vehicle accident lawyer as soon as possible.