According to the opens in a new windowNational Transportation Safety Board, approximately 33,000 tire-related car accidents occur each year, and over 2,000 of those are caused by sidewall blowouts. If a tire blowout occurs on a busy highway when a car or truck is traveling at a high speed, the driver can lose control of the vehicle and cause a devastating accident. Fortunately, these accidents are preventable if motorists maintain their vehicles and ensure that their tires are properly inflated. This is particularly important during the summer months when the warmer temperatures cause the air inside the tires to expand. In addition, more motorists are taking long road trips in heavily loaded vehicles, which can put even more pressure on tires that have not been properly maintained. If a motorist sustains a catastrophic injury in a tire blowout accident, an experienced lawyer will thoroughly review the details of the case and recommend the best legal course of action.
What is a Tire Blowout?
According to the opens in a new windowNational Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a tire blowout occurs when a tire loses pressure rapidly, causing the motorist to lose control of the vehicle. Oftentimes, the motorist will hear a loud popping sound, followed by the sound of the flat or torn tire as it hits the road. Tire blowouts are most prevalent from May to October, so motorists are strongly urged to have their vehicles inspected each spring to ensure that the tires have been properly maintained, and that any necessary repairs are made.
What are the Common Causes of Tire Blowouts?
A tire blowout can, and often does, happen when the motorist least expects it. However, there are a range of factors that can increase the risk of a tire blowout. The following are examples of some of the most common causes of tire blowout accidents, many of which are preventable:
- Inadequate tire maintenance: Tires should be rotated frequently and replaced when necessary. In addition, motorists should check the tire treads to make sure that they are the appropriate thickness. Worn tires or thin treads increase the risk of a blowout.
- Underinflation: When tires are not inflated to the appropriate air pressure, the tire becomes underinflated, which can lead to a blowout. Since 2007, federal law requires vehicles to be equipped with tire pressure monitoring systems (TPMS). However, the system alerts the driver only if it senses a severe underinflation. Once a tire is severely underinflated, it causes the tire to overheat, which often results in a blowout.
- Over-inflation: This causes tires to wear down faster and unevenly, which increases the risk of a blowout.
- Impact damage: Debris in the road can cause damage to tires. In some cases, the damage may not be detectable right away. The motorist may continue driving, only to discover that the tire was seriously damaged after driving several miles. Other times, the blowout from a sharp object in the road occurs immediately. For example, if a motorist runs over a nail, the air may drain out of the tire slowly, whereas a larger object causes a sudden blowout.
- Worn out tires: Tires take a lot of abuse, particularly if the car owner travels a lot or fails to properly maintain the tires. After a certain period of time, the tires become worn, the rubber wears down, and the tires are less able to expand and contract with the fluctuating air pressure and temperature. Old, worn tires are much more likely to experience a blowout than fresh new tires.
- Defective tires: If a vehicle is equipped with defective tires, there is an increased risk of a tire blowout. Tire manufacturers will notify consumers if the tire is defective or if there is a product recall. Motorists can go to the NHTSA website and enter their car’s vehicle identification number (VIN) to see if their tires are on the recall list.
- Overloaded vehicles: During the summer months, travelers often overload their vehicles with more cargo than the tires can safely withstand. When there is too much pressure on the tires, there is an increased risk of a tire blowout. This is particularly true if the tires are also old or worn.
- Potholes: Anyone who has hit a large pothole knows how damaging it can be to the vehicle’s tires. When a tire hits a pothole, the tire expands and contracts rapidly, which increases the risk of a dangerous blowout.
What Injuries Do Tire Blowouts Cause?
Depending on where the tire blowout occurred and the speed at which the vehicles were traveling, a tire blowout accident can cause injuries ranging from relatively minor to quite severe, and even fatal. The following are examples of injuries that can occur in a tire blowout accident:
- Severe lacerations
- Strains and sprains
- Soft tissue damage
- Crush injuries, including nerve damage
- Spinal cord injuries
- Head injuries, including traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
- Loss of limb
What Should I Do if My Tire Blows Out?
Tire blowouts are dangerous because they happen so suddenly, and it can be very difficult for a motorist to maintain control of the vehicle. However, it is possible to handle a blowout safely and avoid getting into a devastating accident. The NHTSA offers the following safety tips:
- Keep both hands firmly on the steering wheel.
- Do not slam on the brakes. Try to maintain the vehicle speed if possible.
- Slow down gradually by slowly releasing the accelerator.
- Try to stabilize the vehicle and regain control. The motorist should steer in the direction that he or she wants to go.
- Once the motorist has stabilized the vehicle, he or she should slow down and find a safe spot to pull over.
Who is Liable for a Tire Blowout Accident?
There are a number of parties who may be held liable for a car accident caused by a tire blowout. For example, if the motorist whose tire blew out failed to properly maintain their vehicle and was driving on tires that were clearly worn, they may be held liable for the other motorist’s injuries. If a blowout accident was caused by a commercial truck that was overloaded with cargo, the loading company may be responsible for the accident and the injuries it caused. The company responsible for maintaining the vehicle’s tires may also be held liable if the company failed to notice a problem with the tire pressure and did not inflate the tire to the correct pressure. An experienced catastrophic injury lawyer will conduct a thorough investigation to determine the exact cause of the accident and who is liable for the resulting injuries.
How can I Prevent an Accident Caused by a Tire Blowout?
Most tire blowout accidents can be prevented if motorists keep the following safety tips in mind:
- Maintain the appropriate tire pressure. Tires that are underinflated or overinflated can cause blowout accidents. The owner’s manual will specify the recommended tire pressure. If the pressure is too low or too high, the air pressure should be adjusted as soon as possible. If the tires need to be inflated on a regular basis, the tires should be checked for small punctures or leaks. Small punctures can be patched, but if the issue is more serious, the tire may need to be replaced.
- Replace tires when necessary: Motorists should examine their tires on a regular basis to make sure that they are not worn or underinflated. Various factors can cause the tires to wear unevenly, so it is important to be able to recognize when a tire needs to be repaired or replaced.
- Do not overload the vehicle: Tires are meant to withstand only a certain amount of weight. The owner’s manual will specify the amount of weight that the tires can handle before increasing the risk of a dangerous blowout.
- Follow the rules of the road: Speeding can increase the risk of a blowout accident, particularly when driving over potholes or around construction sites where there may be debris in the road. Driving at a slower speed can extend the life of the tire and reduce the risk of a catastrophic blowout accident.
- Pay attention to the road and other vehicles in the vicinity: This can help motorists avoid potholes, debris in the road, and other potentially hazardous situations. This will ensure that the driver is able to safely avoid another motorist who is tailgating, weaving in and out of lanes, or speeding without having to speed up or brake suddenly.
Los Angeles Catastrophic Injury Lawyers at ACTS Law Represent Victims of Tire Blowout Accidents
If you or a loved one was seriously injured in a car accident caused by a tire blowout, you are urged to contact the Los Angeles catastrophic injury lawyers at ACTS Law. These accidents can be very traumatic, particularly if the accident occurred on a busy highway where cars and trucks are traveling at a high speed. Our dedicated legal team will thoroughly investigate the details of the accident and determine whether negligence was involved. We will assist you with every step of the claims process and secure the financial compensation you deserve for your injuries. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 833-ACTS-LAWopens phone dialer or contact us online. With offices located in Los Angeles and San Diego, we serve clients throughout southern California.