Did you know that 11,000 auto crashes and 200 fatalities in the United States are attributed to tire failure each year? Unfortunately, there are surface-level accidents in California caused by a runaway tire, including the latest crash on the 18 Freeway near De Soto Avenue in Chatsworth.
A poorly maintained tire can pose several dangers to the driver and other road users around it. In this article, we will discover the risks of keeping a loose tire and how this can lead to accidents.
Why Does a Loose Tire Detach?
There are several reasons why a tire detaches from your wheel. However, one of the most common causes of a runaway tire is when a wheel is installed correctly. When this happens, the lug nuts are either not tightened or overtightened, causing the wheel bolts to break or fail.
Additionally, your tire can lose its grip on your car because of the following defects:
- Over-tightening the bolt
When a bolt is overtightened, it can result in stripped threads on the wheel nuts and stretched studs, making them weaker. If the wheel nuts are stretched, they may become loose, which may lead to a runway tire.
- Under-tightening a nut
As you regularly use your vehicle, your wheel will likely become a loose tire, especially if you travel long distances. This is why it is recommended that you check the nut on your tires and retighten when necessary.
- Having too much paint on the wheels
It’s possible that the nut won’t hold your wheel securely if it has too much paint on it. Despite tightening the nuts religiously, it could still come loose if there is too much paint, leading to a runaway tire.
Can Runaway Tires Cause Accidents?
A runaway tire may likely cause accidents, especially if the wheel pops off while you are driving. According to the 2020 National Highway Statistics Report, tire malfunction caused the following:
- 78,000 car collisions,
- 10,000 fatal injuries, and
- over 410 deaths each year.
How can a loose tire cause accidents?
When a loose tire blows off your car while you’re driving, it may result in a variety of injuries to other road users. These are the different circumstances you may encounter if you drive with a loose tire:
- If you are the driver, you may lose control of your vehicle, causing you to hit others around you.
- A driver of another vehicle may be struck by the runaway tire, leading to a car accident.
- The blown tire may fall on a bystander, pedestrian, or cyclist, resulting in injuries or even wrongful death.
- The wheel runoff may cause damage to other properties.
What to Do in a Runaway Tire Crash?
A runaway tire crash may pose severe damage to road users, especially on highways where cars maintain a high-speed limit. If you are involved in an accident caused by a blown tire, you may do the following to help ensure your safety and properly resolve the incident:
What to do if your tire detaches while driving?
Follow the steps below to ensure everyone’s safety if your tire detaches while driving:
- Remain calm.
- Avoid hitting your brakes. This will cause your wheels to lock up, resulting in a complete loss of control.
- Increase your speed slightly and try to maintain a straight course.
- After trying to drive in a straight line, take your foot off the pedal carefully to slow the vehicle down.
- Turn on your emergency lights.
- When it is safe to stop, move into the right-hand lane.
- Change the tire or contact a towing firm.
- If you cause damage to others around you, call 911 immediately.
What to do if a runaway tire hits you?
Rarely a tire detaches from another vehicle and hits other drivers, cyclists, or bystanders nearby. When this happens, these steps will help you resolve the issue appropriately:
- If you are in a vehicle, stay calm and try to move to a safe location nearby.
- Check if you have injuries.
- Call 911 instantly.
- As you wait for the police to respond, gather necessary evidence, such as:
- The negligent driver’s name, home address, and insurance provider,
- The vehicle’s plate number and type,
- Photos of the accident scene, including the blown tire, and
- Contact details and statements of witnesses nearby.
- File an accident report.
- Contact a personal injury lawyer.
Having a personal injury lawyer by your side will help you identify the appropriate legal steps to take when recovering for the damages of the accident.
Can I File A Claim if a Blown Tire Causes the Accident?
If you incur severe injuries or property damage from the runway tire crash, you have the right to seek compensation to cover the damage expenses. To do so, you will need to prove the other driver’s negligence by obtaining the following pieces of evidence:
- contact information of the driver,
- witness testimonies,
- photos of the accident scene,
- medical bills,
- vehicle repair or replacement costs, and
- the police report of the crash.
Sometimes, victims suffer from severe injuries in runaway tire crashes. If you have serious bodily damage, a legal expert has the expertise and resources to collect the necessary evidence to justify the cause of your accident while you focus on your health recovery.
Does Insurance Cover Being Hit by a Runaway Tire?
If another driver’s runaway tire hits you, their insurance policy should cover the damages caused by the accident.
However, there are instances when the driver flees the accident scene to avoid liability. An at-fault driver may also hit your parked car or other property without notifying you. In such cases, your insurance may pay for the damage costs of the accident through the following coverages:
- Collision Insurance
Regardless of who is to blame, collision coverage secures you against any vehicle repair or replacement expenses caused by an accident involving other drivers or stationary objects.
- Uninsured or Underinsured Insurance
If you are hit by a driver who has limited or no auto insurance coverage, the uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage can deal with your injuries and vehicle damage. It can also include your passengers’ injuries during the crash.
- Personal Injury Protection
Personal injury protection will cover your medical expenses even if you are not driving. This type of coverage can pay for the following:
- medical bills for you and those included in your policy,
- lost wages,
- household services such as childcare and housekeeping (if your injuries prevent you from working at full capacity),
- other treatments and rehabilitation for permanent disability, and
- funeral costs.
- Medical Payments Coverage
Med Pay is an additional option that can cover medical expenses for you or your passengers, regardless of who is responsible for the collision.
Who Is Responsible for a Runaway Tire Accident?
In most cases, the driver of the under-maintained vehicle is responsible for a runaway tire accident. However, there are cases where there are other parties liable for the crash.
The Negligent Driver Caused the Accident
The driver of the vehicle may be the culprit for the accident if they fail to assess, maintain, or replace its wheels, causing it to blow off the road and hit you. If a negligent driver’s tire hits you, you may file a claim against the driver.
In such instances, you will need to justify their negligence through these four elements:
- The at-fault party must act reasonably to ensure the safety of others.
- The driver breached this duty.
- The breach of duty caused the runaway tire accident.
- The crash resulted in injuries or property damages.
The Driver’s Mechanic Caused the Accident
Sometimes, a driver may obtain a runaway tire after having the vehicle maintained by a mechanic. This happens if the mechanic fails to tighten the bolts and nuts on the car after checking or replacing the wheels.
In such instances, you may also file a claim against the mechanic or their company. However, you will need solid legal assistance to prove that the crash is due to their wrongdoing.
The Local Government Caused the Accident
Running into potholes or cracked roads may prompt the tire to loosen its bolts and nuts. When this happens, you may receive compensation from the local government, which is responsible for maintaining the road.
However, you must remember that you may only file a claim against the local government six months after the accident. With the limited timeframe you will be working on, it is best to contact a personal injury lawyer to avoid trial and error when proving your case.
The Vehicle Manufacturer Caused the Accident
In some cases, the vehicle manufacturer releases a defective product that causes the owner’s accident. You may file a lawsuit against the vehicle manufacturer if this happens to you.
How Much is a Runaway Tire Accident Worth?
Generally, compensations from auto crashes vary depending on the complexity of a collision. Here at Jacoby & Meyers, we won car accident settlements from $1.15M to $8M.
When calculating the settlement amount, you must exhaust all possible damages to include in your payout. Typically, a settlement value is comprised of the following factors:
Economic damages have a monetary value and may consist of, but not be limited to:
- future and past medical bills,
- lost wages,
- household assistance,
- personal home health assistance if you have a permanent disability,
- property damage expenses, and
- loss of income.
Non-economic damages are non-monetary losses resulting from the crash. Some motorcycle victims suffer from a significant lifestyle change, which may cause emotional stress or anxiety.
In this case, they may be entitled to non-economic damages, such as, but not limited to:
- decrease in life enjoyment,
- pain and suffering,
- emotional distress, or
- loss of love and companionship.
While this type of damage may seem challenging to compute, an accident lawyer has the knowledge to quantify it and include it in your overall settlement amount.
- maliciously or purposefully intended to cause harm.
- reprehensible or oppressive behavior that causes “cruel and unjust hardship.”
- intentional falsehood, trickery, or concealment of the truth.
Your attorney may seek additional monetary damages to compensate for the negligent driver’s behavior if they determine that your case meets the standard for punitive damages.
What Are the Challenges of Runaway Tire Accidents?
There are specific challenges you may face when claiming compensation for your runway tire accident, such as:
- You may lack solid evidence to support your claim.
- It may be challenging for you to identify the liable party.
- You may have difficulty considering all types of damages to include in your payout.
- The other driver’s insurance provider may intimidate you into accepting a lowball offer.
To avoid these scenarios from happening, you may seek assistance from a legal expert who can do the following for you:
- Gather the necessary information and evidence to justify your claim.
- Prove liability.
- Calculate the total damages.
- Communicate with the at-fault party’s insurance provider.
- Proceed to trial if necessary.
If you are searching for a personal injury lawyer to protect your legal rights, Jacoby & Meyers has skillful lawyers who advocate for victims of car accidents in California. We will examine your situation and provide viable legal options to help you seek the justice you deserve. Contact us at 800-992-2222 for a free consultation.