Routine maintenance can prevent truck tire blowouts that lead to dangerous truck accidents. Unfortunately, blowout-related accidents happen with alarming regularity because truckers, trucking companies, and tire manufacturers cut corners on safety.
Prevalence of Truck Tire Blowouts in Commercial Vehicles
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), which regulates the trucking industry, regularly conducts research aimed at making the roads safer for motorists and truckers. In a landmark study about the causes of large truck crashes over a 21-month period, the agency reviewed more than 140,000 large truck accidents that resulted in injuries or fatalities. It concluded that approximately 8,000 of those crashes resulted from tire blowouts, making tire failure a common, if not leading, cause of truck accidents in the United States.
Poor Maintenance Practices Lead To Truck Tire Blowouts
A truck tire blowout occurs when a tire suddenly ruptures, and frequently happens at high speeds. A blowout can cause a truck driver to lose control of a rig, leading to a catastrophic accident that inflicts severe, even fatal, injuries.
The devastation that often follows a truck tire blowout is entirely preventable. Trucking companies and truck owner/operators can avoid blowout-related crashes by regularly inspecting truck tires, and by performing simple maintenance like tire rotation and replacement.
Failure to inspect and maintain tires is not only negligent on the part of truck drivers and trucking companies, but it is also against federal law. FMCSA regulations seek to ensure the roadworthiness of commercial trucks by requiring that:
- Truck drivers and trucking companies comply with inspection and maintenance requirements and schedules set forth by the FMCSA.
- Trucking companies and independent operators suspend trucks from service that are not roadworthy.
- Truck drivers conduct a pre-trip inspection, including a review of any notes or needed repairs provided by the previous driver’s mandatory post-trip inspection. This includes changing any worn or defective tires.
- Truck drivers perform post-trip inspections when they finish driving for the day, and remedy any issues that can lead to mechanical failure or an accident before using the truck again.
- Trucking companies rotate, repair, and replace truck tires when needed.
An experienced truck accident attorney will be able to investigate your case to see if the federal regulations which apply to semi trucks were followed leading up to an accident.
Truck Tire Blowout Hazards
Poor inspection and maintenance practices lead to tire blowouts because they leave tires vulnerable to predictable, common road and truck-operation hazards, such as:
- Potholes that can puncture, slice a tire, or deform a truck tire.
- Heat that weakens the integrity of a tire and leads to overinflation.
- Improper inflation resulting from changes in temperature and altitude, or from slow leaks.
- Truck driver error in any part of the job, from performing an inspection to operating in conditions that put undue stress on tires.
- Oversized loads that put excess weight on tires and overload them.
- Inconsistent tire sizes that cause tires to wear unevenly.
- Low or no tire tread on a tire that has reached the end of its operating life.
- Defective tires that will fail even under normal operating conditions.
Truckers and trucking companies have a duty to the public to anticipate these hazards and to maintain truck tires so that they will not blow out when the hazards arise.
Consequences of a Truck Tire Blowout
Jackknife and rollover accidents represent two common, and exceedingly dangerous, consequences of a truck tire blowout. In a blowout, the truck or trailer body shifts rapidly (and usually unexpectedly) in the direction of the blown tire. This sudden dislocation can cause the trailer and cab to jackknife, and in certain conditions, to roll over. A jackknifed or rolled truck can inflict massive damage on a crowded road.
Blowouts also spew debris as treats separate from the tire’s inner tube. This debris, sometimes referred to as a “road gator,” can strike a nearby vehicle and cause an accident. Road gators also get left behind on the road surface as the truck continues on its way, so that even if they do not cause an accident immediately, they can block travel lanes and lead to accidents when an unsuspecting motorist encounters them minutes or hours later.
Liability When a Blowout Causes an Accident
Multiple parties can share legal liability for the damage caused by a truck accident, including one resulting from a tire blowout. Every truck crash in Kentucky has its own unique circumstances, of course, but in general the parties who may owe financial compensation to blowout-related truck crash victims can include:
- Truck drivers who fail to inspect their tires before and after a trip, or who drive in a manner that carelessly raises the risk of a blowout;
- Trucking companies and owner/operators who fail to perform necessary maintenance to prevent tire blowouts;
- Truck mechanics or maintenance companies that do a poor job of performing maintenance; and
- Tire manufacturers that produce defective tires that pose an unreasonably dangerous risk of blowing out under ordinary operating conditions.
A party’s legal liability for a blowout typically rests on one of two legal principles: “negligence” and “strict liability.”
Negligence Leading to a Blowout
Parties that fail to take reasonable steps to keep the public safe from a tire blowout may face legal liability to crash victims because of their “negligence”. As a general matter, lawyers prove this type of liability by showing that those parties owed a “duty of care” to protect the public from harm, that they took actions or made decisions that violated that duty, and that someone (the truck crash victim) got hurt as a result. Truckers, trucking companies, owner/operators, mechanics, and maintenance companies, face potential liability for this type of negligence.
Strict Liability for a Blowout
Manufacturers have a legal obligation to avoid selling tires that contain defects that cause an unreasonably dangerous risk of blowout. The law typically holds these manufacturers “strictly liable” for selling a defective tire that blows out, causes an accident, and results in injuries. “Strict liability” means that even if the manufacturer did not know about the defect when it sold the tire, it still owes financial compensation to victims of the accident the tire blowout caused.
If a Truck Tire Blowout Injured You
If you suffered injuries in a tire blowout-related accident in Kentucky, you may have the right to take legal action seeking financial compensation for your injuries and losses. Contact David Bryant Law today for a free consultation to learn more.