Tire blowouts cause more accidents, injuries, and deaths than most people realize. Having defective tires significantly increases the risk of a traffic-related crash.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 700 people died from tire blowout accidents in one recent year across the United States. Blowouts can injure occupants of the affected vehicle, or the driver can lose control when a blowout happens, and crash into other cars, causing more injuries.
If you suffered injuries in an accident because another vehicle had a tire blowout, you should seek compensation for your injuries. An experienced car accident lawyer can help you understand your legal options.
Steps to Take Following an Accident
When a tire blowout happens and causes a crash, it is a shock to everyone involved.
You might not know what to do next, but there are two things you should always do to protect yourself:
- Seek medical attention for your injuries. If you have any injuries or signs of a possible injury, get a medical evaluation immediately. Doing so helps ensure you have the best possible prognosis, as you can receive stabilizing treatment right away. You will have a treatment plan that helps prevent complications, giving you a better chance of full recovery when possible. You will also have a clear record of all the injuries the accident caused.
- Contact an experienced car accident lawyer. Tire blowout accidents are complex – whether your tire or another driver’s tire blew out. The sooner you have a lawyer evaluate your rights, the sooner you will know what steps you need to take next. Your lawyer can begin investigating liability for the accident and building a possible case.
These are the most important things you can do after a car accident, including those due to tire blowouts. Your priorities should be to protect your physical health and legal rights after a crash.
Eight Tire Blowout Causes
A 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 have 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
- Poor tire design or manufacturing
- Anything that causes air to escape from the tire and makes it unable to support the vehicle’s weight.
A blown tire occurs more often in the summer than in the winter. The reason is the combination of hot roads and drivers who tend to take their vehicles farther faster and with heavier loads in the summertime.
Four 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 veer either to the left or the right, depending on the side of the blowout. 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. A driver will feel a front tire blowout more in the steering of the vehicle, while they experience a blowout to a back tire more in the vehicle’s body.
- High-profile vehicles such as commercial trucks, vans, or SUVs have an increased chance of rolling over from a tire blowout.
- A tire bursting or blowing out can result in debris, including large pieces of rubber and steel cording, on the road, presenting a hazard to other drivers. This is especially true with tractor-trailer tires.
- Those who experience a tire blowout typically must 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.
Seven Ways to Prevent a Blown Tire
Some tire blowouts, such as those caused by an impact, may be beyond your control. However, regular tire maintenance is the key to avoiding tire blowouts caused by age or worn tread.
You can still suffer blowout-related injuries if you take all the right steps regarding your tires.
However, it never hurts to know you did the right thing, so here are some tips for keeping your vehicle free from blown-out tires whenever possible:
- Regularly inspect your tires. You should check tire equipment, your tread, and your tire pressure once a month. Tires generally have tread wear indicators raised sections that run between the tire’s tread. When the tread is worn down to the point that it is level with the tread wear 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.
- Select 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, select a tire size that matches the original or that the vehicle’s manufacturer recommends. 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.
- Check your tire pressure. You should keep a tire pressure gauge in your vehicle at all times and 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 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.
Again, even if you do everything right, your tire can still blow, or you can suffer injuries in a crash due to another driver’s tire blowout.
Frequently Asked Questions About Blown Tires
Who is liable for an accident caused by a tire blowout?
Drivers should ensure 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, underinflation, or too much wear, the driver or owner of the vehicle may face liability.
Liability may also fall on the manufacturer or distributor of the tires if a defect in design 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 can cause the sidewall to fail and blow out.
I suffered an injury in a wreck caused by another driver’s tire blowing out. Who should I file a claim with?
In no-fault states, all vehicle owners have to purchase 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:
- 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. If someone died, your policy will compensate 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
- Loss of future earning capacity or career opportunities
- The cost of repairing or replacing your car
- Pain and suffering
- Other damages relating to the impact of your injuries on your quality of life.
If an accident injured me due to someone else’s tire blowout, why do I need an attorney?
An attorney can help you after an accident, providing answers to your legal questions and helping you understand the options available 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
- Deposing of witnesses
- Opening statements
- Questioning of experts hired to help present your case and the impacts that your injuries had on your life.
Once a judge determines 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.
Speak With a Car Accident Attorney Today
If a tire blowout caused your accident, and you have questions about how to recover compensation, call a car accident lawyer as soon as possible. These cases can involve technical investigations and evidence, and you need the right legal team on your side.