Avoiding Legal Trouble

Truck Tire Blowouts: Why Do They Happen and Who Could Be Liable If One Causes an Accident?

When you drive down the highway, you'll sometimes see remnants of shredded truck tires — these are the result of truck tire blowouts. While tire blowouts are infrequent, they can cause catastrophic auto accidents when they do occur. The truck driver may completely lose control of their truck, and other drivers may make erratic maneuvers in an attempt to avoid the truck or the blown-out tire on the road. As a result, these tire blowouts sometimes result in multi-car crashes.

If you were involved in an accident involving a truck tire blowout, you may be wondering if you have any legal recourse. The truck driver or the trucking company can sometimes be found at fault for these serious accidents. If either the driver or the trucking company failed to maintain the truck's tires properly, they're negligent in their duty to keep other drivers safe on the road. To learn more about what causes truck tires to suddenly blow out and what you should do if you were involved in an accident, read on.

What Causes Truck Tires to Blow Out?

Semi-trailer tires need to be inflated to a specific pressure based on the weight of the truck's load. These tire pressures are much higher than tire pressures in a conventional passenger vehicle due to the extreme weight of a semi-trailer.

If a tire is under-inflated, the weight of the trailer will press the tire against the road. After driving for a long period of time, the friction of the tire against the road will cause the tire to overheat. Once the tire becomes hot enough, it will break apart and blow out.

Tires can also blow out if they're over-inflated. This usually occurs when a tire is inflated early in the morning. When temperatures rise during the day, the air pressure in the tire begins to increase. High pressure will cause the tire to simply explode.

Who Could Be Liable When an Accident Is Caused by a Tire Blowout?

Since truck tires are at risk of blowing out when they're not kept at a specific pressure, truck drivers have a legal obligation to inspect their tires before they get on the road. If a truck driver isn't checking the pressure in their tires or examining them for signs of damage, then they may be considered at fault for any accidents that result from a tire blowout. 

Most truck drivers work for a trucking company rather than as an owner-operator, and sometimes the trucking company may be at fault for tire blowout accidents as well. If the driver has a history of failing to inspect their tires, then the company may be found negligent for not terminating the driver's employment. Likewise, the trucking company may be at fault if the truck driver reported tire damage and the trucking company never replaced the damaged tires.

What Should You Do When a Tire Blowout Causes an Auto Accident?

If you were in an accident caused by a blown-out truck tire, contact your insurance company first. Your personal auto insurance can help you pay for medical bills resulting from the accident, and they can also pay for repairs if you have collision insurance.

Afterward, contact a truck accident lawyer in your area. You'll want to find a lawyer who is familiar with the commercial insurance companies that truck drivers and trucking companies use, as that's who will be representing them if you file a lawsuit against them. Tire blowouts are often caused by poor maintenance on the part of the truck driver or the trucking company, and you'll be able to recover damages in the event of a successful court case—these damages can help you pay the remainder of your medical bills or lost wages from being unable to work after the accident.