When a Tire Blowout Causes an Accident - Hensley Legal Group, PC

When a Tire Blowout Causes an Accident

There are more than six million car accidents in the United States each year, a large percentage of which are caused by a mechanical malfunction. The average car has about 30,000 working components, and a catastrophic accident could occur if any of those components goes wrong, not least of all the tires. As the only […]

May 8, 2024

There are more than six million car accidents in the United States each year, a large percentage of which are caused by a mechanical malfunction. The average car has about 30,000 working components, and a catastrophic accident could occur if any of those components goes wrong, not least of all the tires. As the only parts of the car that are in direct contact with the road, tires endure dramatic wear and tear and could break down if they are not adequately maintained. In fact, tire failure is linked to an estimated 11,000 auto accidents annually, resulting in 662 deaths in 2021 alone.

One example of tire failure is a tire blowout, which could send a car spiraling out of control, endangering both the occupants of the vehicle and anyone in its path if corrective measures are not taken. Join us as we discuss how to respond if you have a tire blowout and what should be done when a tire blowout causes an accident.

What Causes a Tire Blowout?

A tire blowout is a sudden loss of air pressure in a pneumatic tire. Unlike a flat tire, in which the air is lost gradually, a blowout is instantaneous, usually accompanied by a loud boom and occurring while the vehicle is in motion. Most blowouts happen too quickly to set off a car’s tire pressure monitoring system, so a driver may not become aware of a tire blowout until it is too late to avoid an accident.

In contrast to a flat tire, which could be patched up or even repaired if the puncture is in the center of the tread area (though not in a tire’s shoulder or sidewall), a blowout typically destroys a tire completely, whether it is a tire sidewall blowout or a more centrally located one. Moreover, the tire fragments may end up scattered across the roadway, forming destructive obstacles, or even get propelled towards other vehicles or pedestrians.

As you might imagine, tire blowouts could be very dangerous, but what causes a tire blowout? While every blowout is unique, common causes of tire blowouts may include:

  • Insufficient tire inflation – Though it might seem counterintuitive, a tire that is not sufficiently inflated may be more likely to suffer a blowout than an overinflated tire, with underinflation playing a role in approximately 80 percent of tire blowouts. Insufficient inflation could cause the tire’s sidewalls to bend or flex, thereby pressing more of the surface area of the tire against the road. The added friction may then generate heat and cause the air inside the tire to expand until the tire blows out.
  • Excessive tire inflation – Just as inflating a tire too little could lead to a blowout, inflating a tire too much could make it pop from the strain, with tires that have been compromised by age or heat being the most prone to a blowout when they are inflated beyond their capacity.
  • Tire age – A tire’s rubber oxidizes as it ages, which could cause tread separation, sidewall deformation, and blistering, flaws that could all initiate a blowout.
  • Overheating – Extreme heat could cause the air inside a tire to expand while also breaking down the tire itself, which could make a tire blow out more readily. The preponderance of blowouts during warmer months has led some analysts to dub summer the “tire blowout season,” with higher temperatures and hotter asphalt both acting as tire blowout contributors.
  • Tire defects – Tires that are erroneously designed or manufactured could break down and blow out more easily.
  • Mismatched tires – Even a perfectly conceived and executed tire can blow out when it is mounted on the wrong vehicle. Cars must only be fitted with the appropriate sizes and models of tires for them, since a tire that is too small to prop up a car’s weight is basically a tire blowout waiting to happen.
  • Overloading – Similarly, a vehicle should not be overloaded with cargo or passengers, as the added mass could put too much strain on the tires, precipitating a blowout when the vehicle is in use.
  • Uneven treads – If tires are not rotated according to the manufacturer’s timetable, their treads could wear down at different rates until the weakest tire buckles under the weight.
  • Speeding – Just as tires have ratings that detail how much they can be inflated and how much weight they can support, they have speed ratings that detail how fast they can be driven without issue. Velocities that exceed this speed rating could significantly increase the odds of a blowout.
  • Poor braking methods – Slamming on the brakes too abruptly or too often could wear down the treads of the tires to such an extent that a tire blowout might be inevitable.
  • Mechanical problems – A vehicle’s tires could sometimes blow out because of certain mechanical problems, such as loose wheel bearings, misalignments, and overly flexible, deformed, or bent axles.
  • Hazards in the road – A car’s tires can be broken down or punctured by numerous hazards in the road, including potholes, nails, screws, glass shards, and even fragments of other tires. Depending on the severity of a perforation, the tires could either go flat or blow out.

Tire blowouts are bad enough in and of themselves. However, because they are statistically likely to occur at higher speeds, they give a driver less time to prevent a subsequent collision that could be even more physically and financially disastrous.

How to Keep Tire Blowouts from Happening

The consequences of a tire blowout can be dire. Fortunately, there are precautions that can be taken that could keep tire blowouts from happening, including the following:

  • Inflate tires correctly – Both overinflation and underinflation could lead to a tire blowout, so always be sure to inflate tires in accordance with their manufacturers’ recommended PSI (pounds per square inch) levels.
  • Check tire pressure levels regularly – Even if your tires are inflated at the recommended levels, air will leak out of them eventually, so it is crucial to check tire pressure levels on a regular basis and reinflate them when necessary. If you believe you have been driving on a severely underinflated tire for a prolonged period, you may want to have that tire taken off and inspected by a technician, as it could have incurred internal damage.
  • Rotate your tires – As stated above, tire treads could wear down at different rates, so routine tire rotation is key to preserving their longevity. It is considered a best practice to rotate tires every 5,000 to 7,500 miles, though it is a good idea to consult your car’s user manual for more precise instructions.
  • Replace old or worn tires – A variety of factors could influence the duration of your tires, such as maintenance, usage, and climate, though most tires can last around six years or between 36,000 and 75,000 miles. That said, it is unwise to ride on tires until they break down, so you should keep track of the lifespan of your tires and replace them well before they get too old or too worn to be trusted.
  • Avoid road hazards – Steer clear of obvious road hazards that could puncture or blow out your tires, such as potholes, debris, and rough patches that could be avoided, since it is better not to put your tires through a test that they may not be able to pass.

How to React If You Experience a Tire Blowout

Observing these guidelines could go a long way towards keeping your tires intact, but you may still be confronted with the explosive sound of a tire blowout one day. How you react in the immediate aftermath could determine whether you will only have to sort out some minor property damage or whether you will be forced to cope with major injuries. If you experience a tire blowout:

  • Stay calm – Losing control of your emotions could make you lose control of your vehicle, which in turn could put yourself and others in jeopardy.
  • Do not slam on the brakes – Braking is a natural instinct, but doing so could cause your wheels to lock up at this critical juncture. Instead, you should…
  • Slow down gently – This can be achieved by slowly removing your foot from the accelerator, thus causing a gradual reduction in speed.
  • Turn on your emergency lights – Adjacent drivers need to be warned that you are experiencing a crisis so that they can exercise caution as they approach you.
  • Prepare to get off the road – Begin steering your car towards the shoulder of the road and then pull over when you can.
  • Deal with the blown-out tire – Once you have come to a complete stop in an area where you can move freely, you can now deal with the central or sidewall blowout tire in question. If you know how to change a tire and have a jack and a spare in your trunk, go ahead and replace the damaged tire with the spare. Keep in mind that this is only a temporary fix that is meant to tide you over until you can get a new tire. You should not drive on a spare tire for more than 50 to 70 miles at most, nor should spare tires be driven faster than 50 miles per hour, since they have limited traction and durability. If you do not have a spare tire with you, or if you do not feel comfortable changing a tire on your own, call a towing company and have your car taken to the nearest garage.

A tire blowout can be genuinely frustrating, the kind of annoying setback that can ruin your day. But if you can manage to keep your wits about you, no tire blowout ever needs to ruin your life.

Steps to Take After a Tire Blowout Causes an Accident

So far, we have examined how you can prevent tire blowouts and how you should address them if they occur. But just like others could be affected by your tire blowout, you could be affected by somebody else’s tire blowout if it causes an accident in which you become injured.

A serious collision can be disorienting, but there are steps you can take after a tire blowout accident that could be beneficial to any case for compensation that you might have, such as:

  • Get to a safe place – There could be another accident soon if you linger in traffic, so get to a safe place before you do anything else.
  • Alert the authorities – Be ready to dial 911 to alert the authorities if they are not yet at the scene of the crash. Make an effort to give the responding officer a comprehensive account of what transpired, since an inaccurate police report could come back to haunt you.
  • Seek medical treatment – The symptoms of some injuries may emerge only gradually, so seek medical treatment even if you are not sure that you have been hurt – and do so quickly, ideally from paramedics on site or at the closest emergency room. Delays in care could hinder the healing process and cast doubt on the relationship between the tire blowout accident and your injuries.
  • Exchange information – Exchange pertinent information with the other drivers and anyone else who may have been involved in the accident, such as:

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 take down the names and numbers of any bystanders who saw what happened as well, since eyewitnesses can provide independent confirmation of the events surrounding the tire blowout accident.

  • Take pictures and shoot videos – A contemporary visual record can be invaluable in establishing guilt and documenting your damages, so use your phone to take pictures and shoot videos of your surroundings.
  • Notify your auto insurance company – Promptly notifying your auto insurance company will allow you to remain in compliance with the terms of your policy and take advantage of the benefits that it might provide, such as reimbursement for physician visits, towing, repairs, and car rentals.
  • Keep your distance from other insurance companies – Other insurers may attempt to get in touch with you, but keep your distance from them if possible, since a clever adjuster may be able to use your words against you, particularly if you do not understand your rights.
  • Talk to an attorney – A knowledgeable car accident lawyer can educate you about your rights and go over what you can expect if you pursue a case against the ones at fault for the accident.

Who Is at Fault for a Tire Blowout Accident?

Depending on the circumstances, a range of individuals and entities could be at fault for a tire blowout accident. For instance, the driver of a vehicle that experiences a blowout could be liable, both for actions contributing to the blowout – such as neglecting to inspect or maintain the tires – and for actions contributing to the subsequent collision. If the vehicle is owned by someone else, that owner could be vicariously liable for the driver’s actions and for shortcomings of his or her own that could have facilitated the tire blowout.

Others could share blame too. If a tire blowout is the result of a defective tire or automotive part, the manufacturer, distributor, or retailer of that tire or part could be culpable. If a tire blows out because it has been improperly installed or repaired, the mechanic performing those tasks might be accountable. And if the blowout is the outcome of perilous road conditions, the government agency in charge of that road and any private contractors working for it could be civilly pursued. In some situations, multiple parties might have varying degrees of legal liability for a single tire blowout accident, for which they might have varying degrees of fiscal liability.

Given how many defendants there could conceivably be, it is important to go after all of them within the time permitted by law, known as the Statute of Limitations, because a plaintiff who does not do so could be forever barred from full economic recovery.

How a Car Accident Attorney Can Make a Difference

As you can see, there are various challenges that you could face if you are hurt in a tire blowout accident, and various ways your quest for justice could be stalled, especially if this is your first personal injury case. For this reason, injured victims frequently decide to retain the services of seasoned legal professionals, like the dedicated car accident attorneys at Hensley Legal Group, who have been standing up for the everyday people of Indiana for more than 25 years.

A car accident lawyer can conduct a thorough investigation into the causes of the tire blowout accident and everyone responsible for it within the time allotted by law, swiftly securing all of the evidence needed to put together a rock-solid case.

Your attorney can then negotiate with every liability insurance carrier to obtain a settlement that considers the full spectrum of your damages, which may include:

· Past, present, and future medical costs

· Lost income

· Diminishment of long-term earning potential

· Pain and suffering

· Permanent mobility restrictions

· Psychological trauma

· Reduced quality of living

· Loss of consortium

· Punitive and wrongful death damages (if applicable)

And if your case needs to go to before a judge or a jury, having a proficient litigator in your corner will be essential. Plaintiffs who represent themselves at trial only win their cases about four percent of the time, while plaintiffs with lawyers are statistically more likely to prevail than not, which could help you get the resources required to get back to normal.

Fighting on Behalf of Honest Hoosiers

So much depends upon our tires, and so much can be lost when those tires fail us. But if you are struggling to recover from the impact of a tire blowout accident, reach out to the Indiana car accident attorneys at Hensley Legal Group, who have been fighting on behalf of honest Hoosiers since 1998.

You can call or text us at (317) 472-3333, chat with us online, or fill out our contact form to schedule a free consultation with an accomplished Indiana car accident lawyer today.