As a Fort Worth personal injury and wrongful death lawyer, I know that one of the leading causes of major tractor-trailer accidents is tire blowouts.
Ever see rubber debris scattered along the side of the highway? More than likely, those shredded tires are the result of an 18-wheeler tire blowout. Tire blowouts are both serious and sudden. A tire explosion can cause an 18-wheeler driver to lose control and collide with nearby cars, resulting in pile-ups, damage, injury and even death. Additionally, the shreds of debris left behind can cause cars to slam on their brakes or lose control of their steering.
A fully loaded semi truck can weigh up to 80,000, so it’s crucial that their tires are properly maintained and calibrated to handle that weight. When a commercial truck has a tire blowout, it’s typically because the tire overheated, was incorrectly installed, improperly recapped or overused. After an accident, truckers often blame the manufacturer for defects, but more often the damage was caused because the trucker and their company failed to keep the tires in working order. Here, we delve a little deeper into the issue:
Who’s Responsible for an 18-Wheeler Tire Blowout Wreck?
Every trucker has a duty to conduct a pre-trip inspection, and many are also tasked with performing general maintenance and inspections on their truck’s tires (as well as their brakes, steering, lights, mirrors, reflectors and load). If the truck driver failed to complete a pre-trip inspection, they’ll be held responsible for the truck tire blowout accident. However, it’s the trucking company (their employer) who will inevitably pay for your injuries and damages.
Your attorney can examine evidence at the scene of the accident and review the trucking company’s records (as well as their past performance ratings) to determine whether the tires were inspected regularly and if the truck was overloaded at the time of the tire blowout. Sometimes, attorneys will chose to bring on an expert who can examine the tire debris to see if the treads were worn out or if too much pressure caused the tires to explode.
In any of these cases, the trucker and their company will be held responsible for the accident. This means you and your attorney can file a claim against them to recover money to pay for your damages, injuries, missed work days, pain and suffering.
The Maintenance Company
Of course, the trucker isn’t always to blame. Sometimes, the maintenance company whose technicians worked on the truck’s wheels and tires will be at fault for the blowout.
Over the past decade, more and more commercial trucking companies have started to outsource services like tire mounting, tire and wheel assembly maintenance, tire repair, wheel refurbishing, tire inflation, rim installation, etc. If a third party worked on the truck that caused a wreck, it’s important to find out if the technicians certified by the Tire Industry Association’s (TIA) Commercial Tire Service (CTS) Certified Instructor Program in accordance with OSHA regulations.
If it’s found that improperly trained technicians worked on the truck’s wheels and tires, then that company could also be considered liable for paying your medical bills and other accident-related expenses.
The Tire Manufacturer
Last, sometimes the tires themselves are defective, which could necessitate a claim against the tire manufacturer (for example: Firestone, Goodyear, Dunlop, etc.).
Common tire defects that have resulted in mass recalls typically involve problems with the tire tread or belt adhesion separating, which can cause devastating crashes. Unfortunately, defective tires often look and feel fine. It’s only after an explosion that anyone realizes there was something wrong at all.
The key to winning a personal injury claim involving a tire defect is that you not only need to prove that the tire was defective, but also that the manufacturer KNEW the tire was defective and did nothing to fix it. Proving what someone did or didn’t know is tricky business, which is why your lawyer will conduct a full investigation with the help of field experts to prove your case.
Tire Blowouts: What’s the Texas Law?
The US Department of Transportation requires every CDL driver (commercial truck driver) to complete a thorough inspection of their rig before driving. This is to ensure that their truck doesn’t have any noticeable equipment problems and to, hopefully, prevent accidents.
The inspection includes a mandatory examination of the truck’s tires. After a tire blowout, one of the first things your Fort Worth attorney will check is that the driver of the crashed truck did actually complete a pre-trip report.
If you’ve been hurt in a traffic wreck caused by a commercial truck tire blowout, you may be entitled to compensation.
Big Rig Accidents: Know Your Rights
Accident claims involving commercial vehicles can be confusing. As a personal injury attorney, I have seen countless big rig accident victims who went through the process without knowing exactly their rights or the money they were entitled to. In Texas, if you’re involved in a truck wreck, you have a right to compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. Remember, you do not have to suffer from the wrongdoing of someone else. For over 25 years, I have successfully represented truck accident victims who have endured painful injuries. If you were injured as a result of a tire blowout striking your car, you have rights.
When Should You Hire a Lawyer?
Not everyone who’s hurt in an accident needs a personal injury lawyer, but truck wrecks and tire blowouts tend to be an exception. This is because they typically happen at high speeds (which mean there are big damages and injuries involved), but they aren’t always easy to prove.
By discussing your personal situation with a board-certified truck crash attorney, you’ll be able to determine who was at fault for the blowout and which insurance policies are liable for your damages.