Q: Who is liable for a tire blowout?
Anyone who has experienced a tire blowout knows the sheer terror and panic of the moment. You have little control over your car, and you hold on for dear life hoping you do not crash into another vehicle. Having a tire blowout on the highway may fling you into another lane of traffic, or even into oncoming traffic.
The National Transportation Safety Board reported that 596 people were killed in tire-related motor vehicle accidents in 2014. Every year, around 19,000 people are injured in accidents caused by tire problems.
What causes blowouts?
To understand who is liable for a tire blowout, you need to know what causes tire blowouts. Among the many things that can cause a tire blowout on the road are:
- An overloaded vehicle
- Driving at high speeds, especially on a hot road
- Low tire pressure
- Inadequate tire tread depth
- Road debris
- A slow leak in the tire
- A defective tire
Tire blowouts tend to happen frequently during the summer, when families are taking road trips. They overload the car, fail to check the tire pressure, and drive too fast with bald tires on hot road surfaces. In that scenario, hitting road debris or a pothole can be all it takes for a blowout to happen.
When there is a blowout, who is liable?
The short answer is: whoever caused the blowout. The actual answer is, of course, a little more complicated. Who can be liable? There are quite a few potentially liable parties:
- The driver of the car that has the blowout
- Persons responsible for road debris (often other drivers or an entity in charge of road maintenance)
- Entities responsible for road and highway maintenance
- Tire manufacturers and installers
The Driver of the Car That Has the Blowout
If the driver’s negligence caused the blowout, the driver can be liable. Overloading the vehicle, driving on unsafe tires, speeding, and inattention to road debris or potholes can all be negligent acts that can cause or contribute to a blowout.
If the blowout resulted from road debris, the person who is responsible for the debris being on the road may be responsible for the accident. This will require you to be able to identify and locate the person responsible for the debris being in the road, and then prove that person left it there.
Potential parties might include other drivers or the entity in charge of keeping the roadway debris-free. To find a liable party, we will help you gather evidence such as surveillance video or eyewitness testimony (to determine the origin of the debris).
The government entity responsible for the maintenance of the roadway could have some liability for potholes. To hold the entity responsible for potholes or any road hazard, you would need to prove that the entity had prior knowledge of the hazard and that they failed to repair the potholes within a reasonable amount of time.
To prove your case, you might want to look into whether potholes in that area have resulted from other potholes on the road. Be aware that suing the government is very difficult. The entity will likely defend against your claim on the ground of sovereign immunity, but in limited circumstances it is possible to sue a government entity.
If the tire that experienced the blowout was defective — and the defect caused the blowout — the tire manufacturer can be liable for the blowout.
These cases usually require the use of expert witnesses. Since many tire manufacturers are large corporations with large, experienced insurers and legal teams, expect a tough battle.
If the tire that blew out was improperly installed, you might have a claim against the company that installed the tire.
You would have to prove that the improper installation was the cause of the blowout. This is difficult but a qualified attorney can help.
How can I get help?
If you have been injured in an accident involving a tire blowout, you may have a claim. The knowledgeable car accident lawyers at The Law Office of Jason R. Schultz, P.C. will help you determine if you have a claim, and who may be responsible.
Call us today at 404-474-0804 to schedule your free, no obligation consultation.