Sharing the road with a big-rig can be intimidating, and for good reason. Weighing a whopping 40 tons and stretching over 80 feet long, semi-trucks are equipped with at least 18 tires that can become lethal weapons at a moment's notice.
A semi-truck tire blowout accident poses a great risk to every motorist on the road, including the driver of the truck. Ignoring a defective, worn, or under-inflated tire on a semi-truck is not only negligent on behalf of the driver, the maintenance company, tire manufacturer, and any other entity responsible for the truck, but can also be deadly.
If you or someone you love has been injured in a truck tire blowout accident, don't let these complex layers of liability fool you – reach out to an experienced South Florida truck accident attorney today to fight for the compensation you deserve.
How Do Truck Tire Blowouts Happen?
Dubbed "road gators" by truckers, shredded remains of black rubber strewn across the highway are the signature sign of tire blowouts. Unlike a flat tire, when a tire deflates but remains on its rim, a tire blowout is the sudden rupturing or bursting of a tire. This often happens when the truck is being driven at high speeds, causing debris and often causing the truck to spin out on the road.
However, tires do not just simply explode on their own. All tire blowouts have a cause, and more often then not they are preventable.
- Failure to inspect the tires regularly.
- Failure to maintain and replace tires when necessary.
Failing to maintain tire safety is a violation of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) guidelines, the entity that oversees truckers and trucking companies. Legally, it is also negligence.
What Triggers a Semi-Truck Tire Blowout?
A worn or defective tire can be driven on for miles before something suddenly triggers it. Certain pressure or an unexpected impact can cause the tire to lose air pressure rapidly or explode, creating a tire blowout.
- Potholes in the road
- Low or no tire tread
- Overloading of cargo
- Defective or worn tires
- Under-inflating of the tires
- Dangerous weather conditions
- Heat causing the tires to over-inflate
- Excessive hard braking by the driver
For as durable as truck tires can be, friction on hot asphalt, impact on a pothole, or unreliable air pressure can all pose risk of a tire blowout. When this is combined with a lack of diligence on behalf of the trucker, trucking company, and other responsible entities, a truck tire blowout accident can result.
What Kind of Accidents Are Caused by Tire Blowouts?
The sudden explosion of a tire blowout can cause a driver to lose control of his truck and collide into other vehicles. As the truck careens haphazardly down the road, loose cargo or shredded remains of rubber can land in the path of unsuspecting motorists, forcing them to swerve out of harm's way. In extreme cases, the truck driver can lose complete control over his truck and cause a rollover accident.
We refer to these accidents as untripped rollovers, since the truck did not hit an object before rolling. During a rollover, the trailer that carries cargo tilts to one side and snaps over the truck cab that carries the driver. Any vehicles that are in its path can be dragged along with the truck, or simply crushed by it.
- A jackknife accident, when the trailer of the truck swings out and stops to form a 90-degree angle with the cab.
- A pileup accident, when multiple cars collide into one another in a chain reaction accident.
- A rear-end accident, when another vehicle stops short and the vehicle behind it cannot stop fast enough.
- A sideswipe accident, when a vehicle swerves out of harm's way and slams into the side of another car.
Common Tire Blowout Accident Injuries
Of course, even smaller passenger cars can be the victim of a tire blowout. It is every motorist's responsibility – truck and car drivers alike – to ensure their tires are in good condition. However, due to the sheer size, weight, and number of tires needed to carry the vehicle, dangerous 18-wheelers are much more susceptible to tire blowout accidents. And where a passenger car weighs a maximum of 5,000 pounds, a semi-truck weighs upwards of 80,000 – meaning that their devastation can be deadly.
- Broken bones
- Emotional trauma
- Spinal cord injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
In some cases, a victim of a trucking accident can be killed from their injuries.
Who Is Liable for a Truck Tire Blowout Accident?
Like all trucking accidents, a semi-truck accident caused by a tire blowout has multiple layers of liability. Unlike a passenger car that is owned by one entity with one insurance policy, multiple entities and businesses play a part in the ownership, upkeep, and insurance of a tractor-trailer. Therefore, when attempting to determine who was liable for a truck tire blowout accident, all aspects of liability must be considered.
The Truck Driver
Every single truck driver on the road shares the responsibility of a conducting a mandatory inspection prior to departure. This pre-trip inspection should include the status of their brakes, steering, lights, mirrors, reflectors, load, and of course, their tires. If the truck driver failed to complete a pre-trip inspection, they can be found liable for the truck tire blowout accident.
The Company Employing the Driver
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which governs truckers’ and trucking companies’ duties to inspect and maintain their trucks, requires that a trucking company must systematically inspect and maintain truck tires. Tires should be examined before the start of the trip, at the end of each day, and once the trip has been completed. A trucking company is required to not allow a truck to be driven if tires are in a condition that could result in an accident or the truck breaking down. If the trucking company failed to uphold this responsibility, they can be found responsible for the accident.
The Owner of the Truck
In addition to the truck driver and trucking company, the truck itself is often owned by a third party. Just as the trucking company is expected to inspect and maintain the vehicle, so is the owner of the truck. Failing to do so could result in this party also being found liable.
The Maintenance Company
Trucking companies frequently outsource services such as tire repair, tire mounting, tire inflation, tire and wheel assembly, and wheel refurbishing to a maintenance company. If improperly trained or negligent technicians worked on the truck's wheel and tires prior to the blowout, the maintenance company could be considered liable for paying your resulting damages.
The Tire Manufacturer
Issues with tire treads and belt adhesion separating have frequently led to mass recalls on defective tires from major brands like Goodyear, Firestone, and more. When a manufacturer willingly and knowingly sells a defective tire and does nothing to fix it, and the tire causes an accident, the manufacturer of the tire can be liable.
Of course, proving what a company did or didn't do or know can be incredibly difficult. In massive accidents such as truck tire blowouts, a thorough investigation must be completed to adequately examine all aspects of the case and its liability. An experienced truck accident lawyer will conduct a full investigation to prove your case.
Navigating Florida Law after a Blowout Accident
Under Florida law, if you're involved in a trucking accident, you have a right to compensation for all incurred damages directly related to the accident
- Past, current, and future medical bills
- Home healthcare expenses
- Rehabilitative therapy
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional duress
- Mental anguish
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earnings
- Lost wages
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Additionally, if someone you love was killed in a truck tire blowout accident, you could file a wrongful death lawsuit to recoup medical and funeral expenses, loss of future earnings, pain and suffering, loss of companionship, and more. Your family does not deserve to suffer under the weight of debt and the heavy sorrow of losing a loved one. You can fight back.
At Weinstein Legal, our trusted South Florida truck accident attorneys are experienced in FMCSA regulations and the intricacies of trucking accident liability. Together we will determine who was at fault for the blowout and which party should be liable for your damages.
Contact a Truck Accident Attorney Today
You do not need to suffer from the wrongdoing of someone else. If you or someone you love was involved in a truck tire blowout accident, contact the office of Weinstein Legal today. If you're unsure if you're eligible for compensation for your injuries, fill out the free and confidential case form to your right. One of our team members will reach out shortly to assure you get the answers you're looking for.