Rubber debris scattered across the highway is usually evidence of a tire blowout. When a big rig has a tire blowout, the shards of rubber can fly into traffic. In addition to the hazard presented by the truck losing control, the shards of tire can also present a danger by blocking traffic. The size of a commercial truck makes a tire blowout particularly dangerous because the truck may roll over, or the driver may lose control of the steering. Tire blowouts are a leading cause of truck accidents.
A loaded tractor-trailer can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, and so it is critical to have properly inflated tires that have minimal wear and good treads. Ignoring a worn, underinflated, or defective truck tire puts everyone in the road in danger.
Truck tire blowouts happen for many reasons, including heat, high speeds, incorrect tire size installed, improperly recapped tire tread, or no tread due to high mileage. It is common for truck drivers who get into a tire blowout accident to blame the tire manufacturer for a defectively manufactured tire as a way of deflecting responsibility. More often, however, the truck driver or trucking company has failed to properly maintain the truck.
Failure to Conduct Routine Tire Maintenance
The chances of a tire blowout are reduced through routine maintenance. A truck driver and truck company's failures to conduct routine inspections and perform maintenance tasks associated with the tires may result in their liability for any accidents that arise from a tire blowout. The mandatory inspection that truck drivers must conduct includes checking the tires, as well as the brakes, steering, lights, reflectors, mirrors, and load. Unfortunately, truck drivers don't always conduct this inspection.
If you are injured in a truck accident caused by a tire blowout, you can bring a lawsuit for compensatory damages. Most of these cases arise out of negligence, which requires a plaintiff to show by a preponderance of the evidence the defendant's duty, the defendant's breach of duty, actual and proximate causation, and actual damages.
Most trucking companies and truck insurers will try to find a way to blame an accident victim. Therefore, if you are a truck accident victim, you should contact an attorney who has experience with truck accidents as soon as you realize you have been hurt. It's important for your attorney to be able to launch an investigation while the evidence is still able to be collected.
Your attorney will examine the evidence at the scene and in the trucking company's records to determine whether the tires were inspected regularly and whether the truck was overloaded at the time of the accident. An expert may be retained in order to determine whether the treads were separating or worn, whether added weight caused stress on the tires, and whether there were too many miles driven on the tires.
What if the tire itself was defective? In that case, it may be appropriate to sue the tire manufacturer in a product liability lawsuit. A tire manufacturer can be held liable for a tire blowout if the tire was defectively manufactured or designed. Defects can include ply separation, for example. This is a manufacturing defect that should be identified during a required visual inspection. If air enters the innermost layers of a tire, it can result in oxidized cording, resulting in a tire that fails at high speeds.