Tire Blowouts

Tire Blowout Causes & Injuries

Among the different types of auto accidents on the road, tire blowouts are perhaps the trickiest and often the most surprising, unpredictable and often unforeseen accidents on roadways. A driver could be following all the rules of the road, have perfect weather and visibility, not be distracted, and yet could flip his or her car and have major injuries because a tire explodes at a certain rate of speed.

But tire blowouts aren’t less scary if they happen to other vehicles on the road. Often when a tire blows, pieces of the tire can fly in the air and do damage to nearby vehicles or clutter the roadway and cause hazards, not to mention the vehicle itself having a loss of control and potentially veering into other lanes of traffic, oncoming traffic, or flipping over.

Like other types of accidents, tire blowouts are not easy to figure out when it comes to liability and responsibility. In fact, in some ways these might be the most complex accidents to investigate because of the different ways or reasons that a tire blowout could occur.

Direct Causes of a Tire Blowout Accident

A tire blowout accident can be triggered by a single event or action, but that isn’t always the only cause of such an accident. In fact, tire blowouts are the types of accidents that have a decent chance of third-party liability as with either of the drivers or car owners.

For example, tire blowouts could be caused by potholes, debris in the road that was not cleared in a timely fashion, road conditions, weather conditions, excessive weight, defective or poorly manufactured tires or wheels, or poor installation of the tires.

In many of these types of cases, liability for a tire-blowout accident may not fall on any driver involved in the accident, but rather on a tire manufacturer, the entity or agency in charge of clearing or maintaining the roadway, or the company in charge of loading the vehicle according to U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) regulations and in charge of maintaining the equipment.

However, there are other causes for blowouts in which either or both drivers may be responsible. These may involve not avoiding debris that could have been avoided, poor maintenance of the tires (not conducting regular air-pressure or tread inspections), having low air pressure and not rotating the tires at recommended intervals and not using tires that are recommended for the vehicle itself.

The Two Duties of a Driver

From a legal perspective, a driver of a vehicle has two “reasonable and prudent” duties that may absolve him or her of liability in a tire blowout accident – though certainly not an absolute absolution.

The first duty is a duty to inspect the vehicle for problems or potential problems. It is your reasonable duty to check the air pressure of the tires regularly and inspect the tread for wear and check for any foreign objects (nails, thorns, etc.) in the sidewall or tread that may cause deflation or a blowout, and always ensure that your tires have the recommended tire pressure for the vehicle you are driving.  You have a related duty to not drive the vehicle until the problems you spot are fixed.

If you have a tire blowout accident and it is found that you did not do regular inspections or maintenance and you drove the vehicle anyway despite knowing of problems, you may be held liable for the accident.

The second duty is the duty to not drive with knowingly defective equipment. The key word is “knowingly” defective. If your car was subject to recall and you took two months to address the issue, but in that two-month timeframe a tire blowout occurred and was found to be caused by the defect, you may be held liable for the accident.  If you know there is something wrong with your car, you have a duty to fix that problem or keep your car off the road if you don’t fix it.

Who Has Liability?

To determine liability with a tire-blowout accident, it takes a full independent accident investigation to understand all the facts of the case and know the primary and complementary causes of the accident.  

As noted above, a tire-blowout auto accident can be the most complicated to understand and could have any number of possible liability claims, dependent on the facts and evidence collected at the scene of the accident. If the driver did not perform his prudent duties as a driver, but he drove over a pothole because another driver didn’t allow him to change lanes in time, then liability will be a little harder to determine.

If you are involved in a tire-blowout auto accident, even if the blowout occurred on your vehicle, you should first ensure that all injuries are addressed, then find a local Memphis personal-injury attorney who can launch a comprehensive accident investigation to find all the facts surrounding your accident and help defend and protect your rights in a prospective liability case. Contact us today.