Some drivers may take their tires for granted, but a blowout can easily cause a tragic accident. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that tire blowouts contribute to approximately 78,000 accidents each year, resulting in thousands of injuries and hundreds of deaths. While many of these accidents could have been prevented, the cause of a tire blowout will ultimately determine whether the driver, the tire manufacturer or another party is liable.
Common Causes of Tire Blowouts
Although tires can be damaged by potholes, road debris, as well as tire defects, most blowouts can be avoided if drivers take proper precautions. This starts by routinely checking all tires for signs of wear and monitoring the tire pressure on a regular basis. Nonetheless, some of the common causes of tire blowouts include:
- Underinflated Tires – Tires that are not properly inflated increase the risk of car accidents because underinflated tires cannot handle the road properly. Moreover, tires that lack sufficient air pressure can easily burst. While the proper inflation depends on the size and make of the tire, one with a pressure lower than 20 pounds per square inch (psi) is at a high risk of a blowout.
- Poor Maintenance – Tires should be replaced according to the manufacturer’s mileage recommendations. However, drivers should also perform regular inspections for signs of wear, punctures, leaks and other damage.
- Overloading – A vehicle that is overloaded with too many passengers or excessive cargo can put too much pressure on tires. This is particularly a concern for SUVS and commercial trucks – drivers must be aware of the maximum load that a vehicle can carry safely.
- Manufacturing Defects – Tires that are manufactured from substandard materials or improperly designed are prone to defects. Although tire recalls are common, defective tires contribute to thousands of car accidents each year.
What are a driver’s duties?
All drivers have a legal obligation to drive as a reasonable person would and avoid causing injuries to others. If a blowout is caused by sharp objects or debris on the road, for example, then the driver may not be found responsible. If the driver acts unreasonably in this situation by suddenly slamming on the breaks, however, he or she may be held liable.
In any event, all drivers are subject to two duties with respect to tire blowouts:
- The Duty to Inspect – Drivers are under a duty to inspect their cars to detect obvious problems. When it comes to tires, a tire that is leaking will appear flat, while the treads on tires can also be worn. It doesn’t take a highly skilled mechanic to notice a threadbare tire or other defects. Moreover, being unaware of a defect is not a valid defense since the law states that a reasonable person should have known.
- The Duty Not to Drive with Defective Equipment – Drivers who know, or should have known, that a tire has a dangerous defect are also under a duty legal duty not to drive until the defect is repaired. If a tire blowout causes an accident and the driver should have fixed it before driving, he or she will be found liable.
Third Party Liability
Although manufacturers test tires to ensure performance at high speeds and under other conditions, these tests are usually conducted internally with little, if any, regulatory oversight. If the blowout was caused by a manufacturing or design defect, a product liability lawsuit can be brought against the manufacturer.
Additionally a retailer may be found liable if the tire was damaged at the store. In some cases, a mechanic can also be held responsible for failing to notice a defect when a car was last serviced. Finally, someone who improperly installs a tire, by not adequately tightening the lugnuts for example, could also be held liable.
What You Need an Attorney in a Tire Blowout Accident
If you were injured in an automobile accident that was caused by a tire blowout, you should immediately call the police and seek medical treatment. The reports of police and first responders will serve as valuable evidence in a personal injury claim. At the same time, these cases are complicated because it is difficult to establish fault – whether it’s another driver, the manufacturer, or even a municipality for not clearing debris from the road. Moreover, insurance companies try to settle claims for as little money as possible or may only cover drivers who carry comprehensive insurance coverage. For these reasons, it is crucial to engage the services of an experienced personal injury attorney who can help you obtain the compensation you deserve.
About The Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y Law. Yosi is an inspired, aggressive and successful advocate for his clients especially those injured in a car accident. He is personally committed to making a difference in his clients’ lives. Nothing makes Yosi happier than getting his clients’ lives back on track.