What to Do When a Truck Tire Blowout Hits Your Car - Hensley Legal Group, PC

What to Do When a Truck Tire Blowout Hits Your Car

There are about 13.5 million trucks weighing at least 10,000 pounds in the United States, though much heavier semi trucks can be found practically anywhere in the country. Trucks of this size put enormous strain on their tires, which must be adequately maintained to keep them from blowing out. A semi truck tire blowout could […]

April 10, 2024

There are about 13.5 million trucks weighing at least 10,000 pounds in the United States, though much heavier semi trucks can be found practically anywhere in the country. Trucks of this size put enormous strain on their tires, which must be adequately maintained to keep them from blowing out. A semi truck tire blowout could cause a truck to crash into something or someone, while the tire fragments themselves could become dangerous projectiles or sharp debris that could blow out even more tires. How you respond to such a blowout could be critical, so join us as we discuss what to do when a truck tire blowout hits your car.

What Is a Tire Blowout?

A tire blowout is an explosive loss of air pressure in a pneumatic tire, usually occurring when a vehicle is in motion and accompanied by a loud boom. It is both similar to and different from a flat tire, which loses air pressure but does so only gradually and therefore may set off the sensors of a vehicle’s tire pressure monitoring system and alert the driver before there can be an accident.

In comparison, a tire blowout involves the instantaneous eruption of a tire after a rapid buildup of heat and pressure. Tire blowouts can cause destroy the tire beyond repair, with fragments that may be propelled in the air or scattered throughout the vicinity.

Truck Tire Blowouts Can Inflict Devastating Injuries

Because they happen so quickly, tire blowouts can put any type of vehicle in jeopardy. A blowout may cause a driver to veer off the road or into another vehicle, an obstacle, or a human being.

But the sheer magnitude of commercial trucks and semi trailers can make truck tire blowouts even worse, setting off catastrophic chain reactions in which property may be demolished and lives may be endangered, either from a collision with the runaway truck or contact with tire debris.

Unfortunately, these sorts of disastrous truck tire blowouts are not rare. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has calculated that as many as 8,000 domestic truck accidents annually involve a truck tire blowout, while the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that tire blowouts led to 622 American automotive deaths in 2021 alone. Moreover, the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has determined that blown tire fragments are the leading pieces of road debris, resulting in approximately 39,000 injuries and more than 500 deaths over the span of four years.

Even non-fatal truck tire blowout accidents can inflict devastating injuries, including:

· Brain damage

· Concussion and post-concussion syndrome

· Persistent memory loss

· Spinal cord trauma

· Paralysis

· Fractured bones

· Loss of limbs

· Herniated discs

· Burns

· Scarring and disfigurement

· Contused, lacerated, or ruptured internal organs

· Coma

Medical complications of this severity could necessitate prolonged medical treatment at a cost that may be beyond the means of families who do not have skilled truck accident lawyers in their corner.

Common Causes of Tire Blowouts

A tire may blow out for a variety of reasons, but the most common causes of tire blowouts include:

· Underinflation – Some might assume that tires predominantly blow out because they have been overinflated. Admittedly, it is never a good idea to inflate a tire beyond its capacity, but underinflation is actually far more concerning, factoring into about 80 percent of tire blowouts. The sidewalls of an underinflated tire will bend and flex, pressing more of the tire’s surface area onto the road. The added friction will then create heat, causing the air inside the tire to expand, occasionally to the breaking point.

· Overinflation – While it is less of an issue than underinflation, overinflated tires may pop because of the excess pressure. Overinflation is likelier to lead to flat tires, though blowouts can occur if overinflated tires are under enough stress, particularly when the tires have already been compromised by heat or age.

· Heat – Excessive heat is a major contributor to tire blowouts, so much so that summer has been called the “tire blowout season” thanks to the frequency of blowouts during warmer months. Hot asphalt and other heat sources can cause a tire to break down and blow out more readily.

· Tire age – The rubber in a tire oxidizes as it ages, leading to sidewall deformation, tread separation, and blistering, all of which may make a tire blow out.

· Defective tires – Tires that are defectively designed or manufactured may burst more easily.

· Mismatched tires – Not all tires can or should be used on all vehicles. The tires installed on a car or truck must be the appropriate size and model for it, since a perfectly crafted tire could experience a blowout if it is even slightly too small to support the vehicle to which it is attached.

· Mechanical issues – Sometimes a vehicle’s mechanical issues can cause tires to blow out. Misalignments, loose wheel bearings, and deformed or overly flexible axles could all wear tires down, precipitating an unexpected blowout.

· Overloading – Tires can only carry so much weight, and overloading a vehicle with a surplus of cargo can push them too far. Even when the burden is distributed across eighteen tires, one pound too many could be the final straw before a semi truck tire blowout.

· Speeding – Just as tires have maximum permissible inflation pressures and maximum load ratings, they also have speed ratings listing the maximum velocity at which they can safely operate. Drivers who exceed this limit could dramatically increase the chances of a tire blowout.

· Road hazards – Potholes and other road hazards can batter or perforate your tires, as could sharp objects like nails, screws, broken glass, and jagged pieces of debris. While a superficial puncture might only make a tire go flat, a deeper puncture could cause a drastic blowout.

Regardless of the specific cause of a tire blowout, the effects can be cataclysmic, especially since blowouts happen most often at higher speeds, giving a driver a narrower window in which to course correct. If the driver does not, the physical and economic toll of the subsequent collision may be too much for many victims.

How to Prevent Truck Tire Blowouts

Given how dire the consequences of truck tire blowouts can be, it is of the utmost importance to keep them from happening at all. To that end, the owners and operators of trucks might prevent truck tire blowouts by taking the following precautions:

· Inflate tires properly – Inflate tires in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommended PSI (pounds per square inch) because both overinflated and underinflated tires may suffer a blowout.

· Perform routine maintenance – Commercial trucks need to be inspected and maintained on a routine basis, and tires should be part of these checks. By inspecting tires for early signs of failure, you may be able to address any underlying issues before they trigger a truck tire blowout.

· Replace old tires – Tires tend to last around six years or between 36,000 and 75,000 miles, though some could last as long as 10 years, depending on such factors as climate, usage, and maintenance. But tires should not be ridden up to the very end, since even tires with thick treads may have sustained internal damage. Keeping track of the lifespan of your tires and replacing them when they have gotten too old can go a long way towards heading off a blowout.

· Drive carefully – Some streets and highways are in better shape than others, but you should drive carefully no matter what conditions you encounter, making sure to steer clear of obvious pitfalls that could blow out truck tires, such as potholes and debris.

These guidelines can be highly useful in curbing truck tire blowouts, but you cannot control whether others choose to abide by them. Even if they do, a truck tire blowout may still occur, which could send a semi truck, a tire fragment, or even a tire rocketing in your direction at top speed.

What to Do After a Truck Tire Blowout Accident

We realize that it can be difficult to remain focused in the aftermath of a truck tire blowout accident, but there are steps you should take to better protect any case that you might have, such as remembering to:

· Move to safety – This may not be your last accident of the day if you stand in traffic for too long, so move yourself and your vehicle to safety before you do anything else.

· Dial 911 – If police and emergency personnel have not arrived at the scene, dial 911 to request their presence. Make sure that you direct the responding officers towards any tire fragments that could serve as evidence and provide them with a full account of what took place, since an inaccurate police report could come back to haunt you.

· Seek medical attention – Your health is key, so seek prompt medical attention, ideally from paramedics on site or at the nearest emergency room. Delays in care could hinder your recovery and cast doubt on the causal relationship between the truck tire blowout and your injuries.

· Shoot pictures and videos – Take out your phone to shoot pictures and videos of your surroundings once you have a moment to do so, as a contemporary visual record of the accident may be invaluable in assessing liability and documenting your damages. Try to capture any tire debris that you find and any text painted or printed on the truck whose blowout injured you, since it could indicate potential defendants.

· Get driver and witness information – You will need to be able to get ahold of all the defendants if you hope to have a case, so take down relevant information from the truck’s driver and any other motorists who may have been involved, including:

o Name

o Address

o Phone number

o Email

o Insurance company and policy number

o Driver’s license

o Vehicle make, model, and year

o License plate

Don’t forget to ask about the truck driver’s employer, the truck’s owner, and anybody making use of the truck at the time of the tire blowout either. Because witnesses could provide independent confirmation of the incident, get the names and numbers of bystanders who saw what happened as well.

· Inform your auto insurance company – You may need to inform your auto insurance company about the incident to be in compliance with the terms of your policy, and doing so right away could let you take advantage of the benefits that your policy may provide, such as reimbursement for doctor visits, towing, car rentals, and repairs.

· Stay away from other insurers – On the other hand, it may be wise for you to stay away from the other motorists’ insurers. Even the most innocuous statement that you make to an insurance adjuster could be exploited to undermine your case. Instead, you might want to…

· Consult with an attorney – A truck accident lawyer can answer your questions and advise you about what to expect if you decide to initiate a case against the ones responsible for the truck tire blowout.

Who Is Responsible for a Truck Tire Blowout?

But exactly who is responsible for a truck tire blowout? The answer is not always simple.

Commercial trucking is a logistically complex enterprise, with many hands taking part in the completion of a single shipment by truck. As such, it may come as no surprise that truck accidents pose some of the greatest challenges in personal injury litigation.  Any kind of truck accident may have multiple parties who could be liable, and the unique circumstances leading up to a truck tire blowout could mean that a host of other defendants may be liable too.

For example, a truck’s driver could be at fault for directly causing a tire blowout, perhaps by speeding or not evading obstacles, or for not responding to the blowout in a way that minimizes harm. The owner of the truck (if separate from the driver) could be accountable as well, both for the driver’s negligence on the owner’s behalf and for actions or omissions by the owner that bring about a tire blowout. Furthermore, the company deploying the truck (if separate from the owner) could bear responsibility for the blowout along comparable lines.

While these are among the most standard defendants in truck tire blowout cases, they may not be the only candidates, depending on the nature of the blowout. If an outside loader fills a truck with more cargo than the tires can handle, that loader could be culpable for the resultant injuries. A servicing agent could share blame for neglecting to replace tires that are overly worn or for failing to address other mechanical problems that increase the likelihood of a blowout, such as a bent axle. If the tires are produced in a way that would make a blowout inevitable even if they are installed correctly, the manufacturer, distributor, and/or retailer of the tires could be held to account. And should road conditions be so hazardous that avoiding a truck tire blowout would be close to impossible, the government body in charge of roadway construction and maintenance could be civilly pursued, as could private subcontractors hired by that government body to complete the work in question.

In certain situations, multiple parties could have varying levels of legal liability simultaneously for a truck tire blowout, for which they might have varying degrees of fiscal liability. Given how many defendants there might be, it is absolutely vital that you identify and go after all of them within the time allotted by law, known as the Statute of Limitations, which can vary based on the type of case and the state in which it is being litigated. For instance, the Statute for truck accident cases in Indiana is generally two years from the date of injury,  though it could be much shorter in lawsuits against the government, with other restrictions that may apply.

If you do not meet all of the deadlines and satisfy all of the requirements needed to establish a valid truck tire blowout claim before the Statute of Limitations elapses, you could be forever barred from full financial recovery.

How an Attorney Could Help

As you can imagine, you may face considerable challenges in your quest for essential resources after a truck tire blowout accident. To overcome these challenges, many plaintiffs find it beneficial to retain seasoned truck accident lawyers who will not let an obstinate insurance company or bureaucratic oversight block their path to justice, like the determined truck accident attorneys at Hensley Legal Group, who have a proven record of getting fair compensation for the wrongfully injured.

A capable truck accident lawyer will carry out an exhaustive investigation into the cause of a truck tire blowout and everyone who contributed to it within the time permitted by law, acting swiftly to preserve all evidentiary materials. After building an airtight case against the defendants, your attorney will negotiate with their liability insurers to secure a settlement that reflects the entirety of your losses from the truck tire blowout, which may include:

· Past, present, and future medical expenses

· Lost wages

· Diminishment of long-term earnings

· Pain and suffering

· Permanent impairment

· Mental and emotional anguish

· Reduced quality of living

· Loss of consortium

· Punitive and wrongful death damages (if applicable)

While most personal injury claims are resolved outside of the courtroom, some cases may need to go to trial, where proficient legal representation will be indispensable, since plaintiffs who represent themselves before a judge or jury lose their cases 96 percent of the time. In contrast, a trial-tested lawyer is statistically more likely to succeed than not, which may allow you to get what you need to become whole again.

Advocating for the Everyday People of Indiana

The impact of a truck accident can be felt for months or even years to come. If you are struggling to cope with the injuries you have incurred, get in touch with the dedicated truck accident lawyers at Hensley Legal Group, who have been advocating for the everyday people of Indiana for more than a quarter century.

To schedule a free consultation with one of our accomplished Indiana truck accident attorneys, please call or text us at (317) 472-3333, chat with us online, or fill out our contact form today.