If you have spent any time on the interstate or major highways you have seen the rubber debris scattered across the lanes. The dodging and weaving that motorists must engage in just to avoid these dangerous obstacles is scary enough. But, as any truck accident attorney knows, the remnants of a truck tire blowout are not the only hazard. When a truck driver loses control of his rig because of a blowout, the risk of a catastrophe becomes greater.
The nature of the risk posed by blowouts
We have all seen the evidence of an 18-wheeler tire blowout. The huge pieces of black rubber littering the highway. When the tire blows, shards of rubber become projectiles into traffic, which can cause accidents if they strike other cars or when cars swerve trying to avoid the sudden obstacles. According to some statistics, this type of debris causes more than 25,000 collisions and over 100 fatalities every year. According to the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, tire pieces are the number one type of debris on the road.
What are the primary causes of blown tires?
Another problem arises when a blown tire causes a truck driver to lose control of the rig. Due to the sheer size of commercial trucks, there is a potential for rollovers. When truck drivers ignore the worn or underinflated tires, the likelihood of a blowout increases. Defective tires also increase the risk of danger. Since the typical tractor-trailer can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds when loaded, it is crucial that the tires are well maintained. Factors such as heat, high speed, and worn tread, among others, can lead to an increased risk of a blowout.
Failure to Conduct Routine Tire Maintenance
The good news is that it is easy to reduce the chances of blowouts simply by performing routine maintenance. Yet, that is probably the most common problem. If either the truck driver or the company he works for, fails to perform routine maintenance and inspections, which would have revealed the need for tire replacement, then that could be a basis for liability.
What type of legal claim can I bring?
Anyone injured in a truck accident where the cause of the accident was a tire blowout can bring a lawsuit for compensatory damages. These types of claims are based on negligence. That requires proof that the truck driver and/or trucking company had a duty to prevent the tire blowout, but breached that duty, ultimately causing the injuries. Of course, the companies and their drivers will make an attempt to blame the victim, so it is important to consult with a truck accident attorney as soon as possible.
What about cases involving defective tires?
It may not always be the fault of the truck driver or his employer when a tire blows and causes an accident. In some cases, it is determined that the tire was actually defective and the manufacturer is at fault. On example of a very dangerous defect is when the layers of the tire separate.
The importance of proper tire inflation
According to some studies, most of the tire debris on the road is a result of under-inflated tires. When a tire is not inflated properly it becomes more prone to becoming cut and going flat. These types of problems are preventable if truck drivers are sure to maintain the proper amount of air based on the truckload and tire size. Tires flex as they roll. A tire which is improperly inflated will not roll as smoothly as it was made to roll. On the other hand, over-inflated tires typically do not absorb road hazards such as potholes and debris in the road. In that case, the risk of puncture or sustaining damage from an impact is increased.
Why trucking accidents are more serious
The size and dimensions of large commercial trucks make operating them much complicated than operating cars. Large trucks accelerate much slower and take much longer to stop. Truck accidents more often lead to serious or even catastrophic injuries.
Handling a truck accident case is also more complicated
Regardless of whether the accident was caused by a blown tire or driver inattention, truck accident cases are handled very differently, from the very beginning. For one thing, truck accident lawsuits are more time-sensitive and the necessary evidence to prove liability needs to be preserved more quickly than in a typical auto accident case. Also, the insurance issues that arise are often more difficult to navigate.
If you have questions regarding truck accidents, or any other personal injury concerns, contact us online or call the Cottrell Law Office at (888) 433-4861.
He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.
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