Car accidents can be caused by many different factors, including driver negligence and others. In some cases, accidents result from defective tires when a tire blowout occurs and causes the driver to lose control of the vehicle he or she is driving.
Each year, hundreds of people are killed in the U.S. because of defective or worn tires. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that 738 people were killed in car accidents caused by tire problems in 2017 alone.
Tire safety is something that should not be overlooked. Unfortunately, many drivers fail to regularly check their tires, which could result in blowouts and accidents. When a driver or vehicle owner causes an accident because of worn tires that fail, the driver or owner can be found liable for the losses caused to others injured in the resulting collision. The injuries and property damage caused by driving with unsafe tires can be extensive.
There have also been numerous instances involving unsafe or defective tires that have defects even when the tires are new. Some of these defects have led to massive recalls in the past following accidents.
If you have sustained serious injuries in an accident caused by bad tires, you should talk to an experienced attorney at Hutzler Law to learn about the rights that you might have.
Common Causes of a Tire Blowout Accident
Some of the most common causes of a tire blowout accident include the following:
- Defects in the roads
- Tire punctures
- Sharp debris in the road
- Defective tires
- Underinflated or overinflated tires
- Worn, bald tires
Overloading is a common cause of semi-truck tire blowouts, but it can also cause blowouts in overloaded passenger vehicles. If the weight capacity of a vehicle is exceeded, the increased pressure placed on the tires can result in a blowout. The driver might then lose control of the vehicle and cause an accident.
Since large semi trucks have 18 tires, the driver might maintain control of the truck. However, the tire debris can fly out from under the truck and collide into the windshield of a passenger car, causing a serious truck accident.
Poorly maintained roads that have obstacles and potholes can cause tires to blow. When a motorist drives over a pothole, the edges can cause the tire pressure to abruptly change. This change can then increase the stress on the tire walls and cause a blowout to occur.
Punctures in a tire might not immediately be noticed by drivers. If a driver runs over a nail or other small object in the road, the tire can slowly leak air until the tire is underinflated. The tire walls may then have more pressure placed on them and cause them to blow.
Debris in the road can also cause tire-related accidents. If something lying in the road is sharp, a driver might drive over it, causing the tire walls to be punctured and the tire to blow out immediately.
When people purchase new tires, they do so with the belief that their tires will be safe and perform well. However, manufacturers issue defective tire recalls each year. Many different types of defects can happen during the manufacturing process. When those defects cause tires to fail and accidents to happen, the victims can file claims for their defective tire accidents against the companies.
Tire-related car accidents can also happen when people drive with over or under-inflated tires. Failing to inflate tires enough or overinflating them can place too much pressure on different areas of the tires, resulting in failures and accidents. People can check the air pressure in their tires with a gauge and should ensure that they inflate their tires to the manufacturers’ specifications.
Finally, some motorists continue to drive on tires long past their safe life cycles. If you drive on tires with worn treads or bald spots, you have a much greater risk of having a blowout and causing an accident.
Tips to Avoid a Car Accident from a Tire Blowout
Before purchasing tires, people should check to make sure that the tires have not been recalled. People should also visually inspect their tires regularly to check for bald spots, punctures, and worn treads. Tires should be regularly maintained with appointments for tire balancing.
Some tips to help prevent tire failures include the following:
- Choose tires based on weather conditions and vehicle types.
- Check U.S. government ratings for the tires you consider.
- Regularly check for recalls.
- Visually inspect tires before driving a vehicle.
- Keep tires inflated at the recommended pressure.
- Have tires rotated and balanced on schedule.
- Regularly check the depth of your tire tread.
- Make sure to place new tires on the rear of your vehicle for better traction.
Note About Tire-Pressure Monitoring Systems (TPMS)
Vehicles manufactured after 2008 come with TPMS, which are sensors that monitor the air pressure in a vehicle’s tires. This is a federal law that the tires be monitored. When the air pressure in a tire is too low, a warning will appear on the car’s dashboard, indicating which tire needs attention. However, you should never use TPMS as a substitute for checking the pressure in your tires.
Many TPMS systems are not designed to show warnings until the tires are underinflated by 25% or more, which is significantly higher than what is recommended by most tire manufacturers.
A common tactic that can be used by insurance companies to deny a claim is if the tires were underinflated or overinflated, then it is negligence on the owner for not proper equipment. Don’t let this happen to you!
Instead, make a habit of quickly checking your tire pressure with a gauge before you head out on the road.
Common Tire Defects that can Cause Car Accidents
Even if you regularly check and properly maintain your tires, a blowout can still occur if the tires are defective. Your tires transfer the weight of a car to the ground through the axle, and they also provide your vehicle with traction and help with steering.
Motorists rely on their tires to keep control of their vehicles when they travel at high rates of speed and when avoiding obstacles. A defective tire can cause you to lose control of your car and cause an accident in which you, your passengers, and others might be injured.
The most common types of tire defects include tread separations and weak areas in the tire. Both of these defects can cause blowouts to happen. Tire defects can be caused during the design or manufacturing process or when inferior products are used to repair or make tires.
Tire treads are the portion of the tire that contains grooves to provide better traction. These grooves let the tires expel water so that you won’t hydroplane on wet surfaces. Delamination occurs when the tread separates from the rest of the tire, causing drivers to lose control.
In new tires, delamination can be caused by design or manufacturing defects. Retreaded tires can also delaminate if inferior products were used or the company used inadequate curing time. If you take your car in for a flat tire repair, improper repairs can also cause the tread to separate.
Blowouts happen when the tire ruptures while a vehicle is traveling and can result from tread separation, manufacturing defects, or design defects.
If there are weak spots in the tires, the areas can blow under pressure while you are driving. The bond between the rubber and the steel belting can come apart, causing a rapid pressure loss and a resulting blowout.
Liability in a Car Accident Caused by Bad Tires
If you had an accident because of a defective tire that contained defects at the time it was purchased, you will not have to necessarily prove who was responsible for causing the defect.
Under the product liability laws in Arizona, the parties that were responsible for bringing the tire to the market can all be liable, including the tire’s designer, manufacturer, distributor, and seller of the defective tire.
Strict liability for defective tire accidents
Consumers are generally not in a position to know the causes of a tire defect. By filing a product liability lawsuit, a plaintiff can pursue compensation without having to prove negligence.
Strict liability can be imposed in defective product cases for manufacturing defects, design defects, or warning defects. Strict liability makes it easier for plaintiffs to prove their claims and recover damages for their losses.
To prevail in a product liability claim for defective tires, you will need to prove the following things:
- The defendant was the designer, manufacturer, distributor, or seller of the defective tire.
- The tire was defective at the time it left the possession of the defendant.
- The manner in which your accident occurred as a result of the defect was reasonably foreseeable.
- You were injured because of the defect.
To show that the tire defect was the cause of your accident, you might need to present expert testimony. Your accident attorney might send pieces of the tire and copies of the accident reports to the tire expert, who might then provide an expert opinion about how the defect caused the accident and your injuries.
If a tire did not contain a defect in it at the time the tire was sold to the consumer, then another party might be liable for the accident. Some of the potentially liable parties in negligence claims for tire-related accidents include the following:
- Vehicle’s owner
- Tire repair shop
- Seller of used tires
In Arizona, accidents are frequently caused by the negligence of one or more parties. If your accident resulted because of the negligent actions of a person or entity, the defendant might be responsible for paying damages to you for any injuries and losses you suffered. To prevail in a negligence claim, you will have to prove the following elements of negligence:
- The defendant owed you a duty of care.
- The defendant breached his or her duty.
- The defendant’s breach was a substantial factor in causing your accident and injuries.
- You suffered actual harm as a result.
What Damages are Recoverable in a Defective Tire Lawsuit?
Plaintiffs can seek compensation for their losses in a defective tire lawsuit. The total compensation amount that might be available will vary, depending on the facts and circumstances of an individual case.
Compensatory damages are meant to compensate injured victims and place them in similar positions as to where they would have been if they had not had their accidents.
Compensatory damages include economic and non-economic damages. Economic damages are monetary awards for the pecuniary losses suffered by a plaintiff. Non-economic damages are monetary awards for the more intangible losses plaintiffs suffer as a result of their accidents.
In a tire defect lawsuit, some of the types of damages that might be recovered include the following:
- Medical expenses, including hospital stays, emergency care, and future treatment that might be required
- Medical supplies
- Past and future income losses
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional harm
- Loss of consortium
- Other damages
Contact an Experienced Car Accident Attorney
Car accidents can happen suddenly and may be caused by many different things.