Everyone has seen the remains of a tire blowout on the side of the highway. That’s a dangerous scenario for any driver, but cargo trucks carrying heavy loads pose a particular threat when a tire suddenly deflates or bursts apart.
The potential for catastrophic injuries is extremely high when a tire blows as a big rig is traveling at top speed to make deliveries across the state. If you were harmed in this type of accident, here’s what you need to know about protecting yourself legally and financially.
Causes of Cargo Truck Tire Blowouts on Virginia Roads
Heat plays a large role in tire blowout accidents, with tires bursting more frequently in hot months during long hauls. They also occur when a vehicle is driven over potholes or collides with debris on the road.
In many cases, unfortunately, truck tire problems and the corresponding collision with another vehicle are caused directly by negligent behavior. Tire blowouts in Virginia personal injury cases may be caused by:
- Defective or recalled tires that aren’t removed and replaced.
- Driver failure to conduct required pre-trip and post-trip inspections of the tires and then properly report worn treads in need of replacing.
- Hazards on the road like litter or broken concrete.
- Improperly loaded cargo. Too much weight that is unevenly distributed can place pressure on tires and cause them to deflate, while loads that aren’t balanced or secured properly can shift during transit and also directly lead to a collision.
- Inexperienced truck drivers breaking excessively, leading to preventable tire wear.
- Insufficient maintenance schedules from the trucking company to deal with cracked and worn tires.
- Mismatched tires or using a spare tire over a long haul.
- Underinflated or overinflated tires.
- Tread separation when the metal and rubber come apart due to a combination of heat, tread wear, and speed.
When a tire blows out on a tractor-trailer carrying a full load, tens of thousands of pounds traveling at 55 miles per hour or more can suddenly shift momentum in an instant. That sort of sudden, violent motion may lead to jack-knifing, head-on crashes, rear-end collisions, or rollovers.
There is additionally a serious danger of cargo from the truck being ejected and striking other vehicles. Even if the cargo load remains in the truck, there is a strong possibility of multi-vehicle collisions whether the tire blowout occurs on a busy Richmond street or out on the highway.
Establishing Liability for Truck Tire Blowout Injuries
Devastating injuries are common when a truck blowout leads to a crash with other cars on the road, from bone fractures to spinal cord trauma and traumatic brain injuries. Recovery periods can be lengthy, and victims may end up dealing with chronic pain or mobility issues. Those injuries, and in some cases even wrongful deaths, could have been avoided if the driver or trucking company had upheld their legally required duty of care.
With the help of an experienced personal injury attorney, you can protect your legal rights and secure your financial future by holding the liable party responsible for your damages. A skilled attorney can fully investigate the crash to find out exactly what caused the tire blowout, as well as locate the best potential source of compensation to cover your costs.
While there are cases where the root issue is clearly negligence on the part of the person behind the wheel, in other circumstances, there could be an entirely different liable party. The specific person responsible for your pain and suffering could be the:
- Driver of the truck involved in the collision
- Negligent mechanic or service shop who improperly installed the tires
- Manufacturer of a defective tire or brakes
- Trucking company for failing to keep vehicles in road-worthy shape
- Third-party crew who improperly loaded the truck’s cargo
To receive a settlement or secure a judgment from a jury, you need to prove the accident was caused by negligence. That’s why your attorney may gather and present sources of evidence such as:
- Accident reconstruction experts
- Driver logbook
- Employment records like training and disciplinary documentation
- Eyewitness testimony from other motorists or pedestrians who witnessed the tire blowout
- Maintenance and repair documents
- Photos or video from the scene of the crash
- Truck “black box” data
While a truck accident attorney handles the heavy lifting by thoroughly investigating the crash, negotiating with insurance, and potentially presenting evidence to the jury, there are also actions you can take after the crash to protect yourself. After contacting law enforcement, be sure to take photos of the blown tire and your vehicle, as well as gather contact info for anyone who saw the collision.
From there, your next steps are to see a doctor to begin a paper trail covering your injuries and then call an attorney. With the right legal counsel at your side, you can seek damages covering your:
- Medical bills, which are likely to be extensive and financially devastating after a large tractor-trailer accident. Compensation can also cover estimated future medical needs if the injury is likely to lead to extra surgeries in the future or require long-term rehabilitation and therapy.
- Wages. Lack of income is a bigger problem than many accident victims expect as they come to terms with the recovery period and physical and emotional toll of the injury. You may be unable to return to your previous position, or need to find a different kind of job after the accident.
- Pain and suffering. Non-economic damages can include issues like anxiety, depression, and reduced quality of life from the impact of the injury.
- Wrongful death and funeral costs.