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Crashed Caused by a Commercial Truck Tire – What’s Next?

Posted in Truck Accidents on September 24, 2022

Without millions of commercial trucks on the road, our lives would not be what they are today. However, these incredible hauling mechanical giants, moving food, electronics, gasoline, heavy equipment, and much more can also cause some of the worst accidents on the road. Although the modern truck tire is designed to ensure durability and safety, they are not invulnerable to dangerous blowouts.

What is a Commercial Truck Tire Blowout?

A commercial truck tire blowout occurs when a tire explodes or bursts while the commercial truck is in motion. Although a commercial truck tire blowout can occur while a truck is stationary, the friction of the tire moving on a road and the pressure caused by the immense pressure of the vehicle’s weight can cause a blowout.

Once the tire blows out, the commercial truck may lose control and collide without motorists or roadway fixtures like mediums and light posts. Further, the debris from the tire or truck may scatter once the tire bursts and cause damage to other vehicles or cause drivers to panic and hit other motorists.

Common Causes of a Commercial Truck Tire Blowout Accident

Although tire blowouts can occur for any number of reasons, some causes are more common than others. Below are the common ways a commercial truck tire experiences a blowout while driving on a roadway.

Failure to Maintain the Vehicle

One of the most common reasons for a commercial tire blowout occurs when the owner or operator of the truck fails to maintain it properly. Commercial trucks must undergo routine maintenance based on rules and regulations promulgated by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). Furthermore, a commercial driver’s license (CDL) holder should follow a multi-step inspection of a commercial truck before commencing its operation.  

Excessive Weight Capacity of the Trailer

Shipping companies are keen on adequately weighing their vehicles based on the weight restriction rules of each state. To prevent issues, many states and localities even place a litany of signs that express the weight limit allowed by law for specific streets, including through commercial corridors and residential neighborhoods. However, a commercial truck owner and the operator may improperly overload a truck without checking the truck’s weight limit, complying with roadway safety laws for weight, or ensuring proper maintenance on the tire and suspension system—causing a tire blowout.

Hazardous Road Conditions

It is no secret that many roadways across the U.S. are in varying states of disrepair. Potholes, surface cracks, broken asphalt and concrete, and miscellaneous trash can all cause severe damage to a commercial truck tire. Unfortunately, some accidents cannot be attributed to driver negligence but somewhat neglected roadways.

Incorrect Air Pressure

Unlike most personal vehicles, commercial trucks must maintain strict air pressure to ensure drivability. If a commercial truck’s tires are not correctly inflated, the internal mechanics and components of the tire, rim and axle may not be able to handle the immense weight of the vehicle and road conditions. As a result, the tire may buckle and blow out under pressure at a certain point.

Determining Liability in a Commercial Truck Tire Blowout Accident

Once the plaintiff proves a blown-out commercial truck tire was the cause of the accident, the plaintiff can then pursue a claim against one of the parties typically responsible for the accident.

Owner of the Commercial Truck

In many negligent cases where a commercial truck tire blowout harms others, the vehicle’s owner is usually liable for the damage. Under a negligence theory, the harmed party (plaintiff) must show that the responsible party (defendant) had a duty of reasonable care, failed their duty, caused the accident by their actions, and damaged the plaintiff in a way that can be quantified by money.

For example, if evidence showed that the owner of the truck failed to replace the tires after a significant amount of wear and tear, the plaintiff must demonstrate:

  • The owner had a duty to conduct routine maintenance and replace the tires.
  • The owner failed to replace the tires.  
  • The blowout tire caused the accident that resulted in the plaintiff’s harm.
  • The plaintiff suffered damages resulting in monetary loss.

Commercial Truck Driver

Although many owners are held liable for commercial truck damages, a non-owner driver can also be held liable. For example, a commercial truck driver might be directly liable for the damage caused by a commercial truck blowout if the driver acted outside the scope of their prescribed duties as a driver

For example, the commercial truck owner involved in the accident should conduct a pre-trip inspection of the vehicle before the operation, including checking tire pressure. Suppose the cause of the blowout was a deflated tire that the pre-trip inspection checklist could have discovered. In that case, the owner may argue that the driver was also negligent and should be held partially or fully liable for the damage.

Commercial Truck Design Defects

Suppose the evidence presented during the initial investigation of an accident caused by a commercial truck tire blowout shows the cause of the accident was not the owner of the truck or driver but rather the manufacturer of the tire. In that case, the manufacturer may be held liable.

To prove a case of products liability, the plaintiff must show one of the following:

  • The tire’s construction or composition was defective.
  • The tire’s design created an unreasonable hazard to users.
  • The manufacturer failed to warn the tire’s consumers of any dangers posed by the tire.
  • The tire failed to conform to the manufacturer’s express warranty.

Obtaining Damages for a Commercial Truck Tire Blowout Accident

Once a party has been found liable for the accident, whether the owner of the vehicle, driver, or manufacturer, the plaintiff can seek monetary damages for the harm caused by the accident.

Types of damage awards may include:

  • Payment of lost and future wages if the plaintiff took time off work to address injuries.
  • Medical bills from injuries can include direct treatment and forms of occupational or physical therapy.
  • Loss of consortium (failure to maintain intimate contact or relationships).
  • Pain and suffering.
  • Punitive damages to prevent further instances of harm (only occurs in rare instances of gross negligence or intentional conduct).