If you’ve spent any time on New Mexico’s highways, you’ve likely seen tire debris from semi-trucks littered across the lanes. Whether you’ve swerved around a big chunk of rubber on I-40 or run over smaller debris on I-25, you know that cast-off pieces of semi-truck tires are a significant hazard.
Less common—but far more dangerous—is being near a semi-truck when one of its 18 wheels blows out, causing the driver to swerve out of control.
If truck tire debris caused an accident that left you or your passengers seriously injured, you might need help to get the compensation you deserve from the trucking company. Our experienced Albuquerque truck accident attorney look at how tire blowouts happen and who is to blame when they do.
How Do Semi-Truck Tire Blowouts Happen?
Commercial semi-trucks are often referred to as 18-wheelers because they typically have 18 wheels, but they could have as many as 34, depending on how many axles they have.
Trucks need a lot of tires because of the length of the rig, the weight it is hauling, our New Mexico injury lawyer adds, and the likelihood that one of the tires will blow out. In other words, the multiple tires keep the truck stable, help to distribute the cargo weight evenly, and take the place of a blown tire to prevent a wreck. However, when even one tire blows, an occupant of an unsuspecting passenger car could be seriously injured.
Many factors could contribute to the failure of a semi-truck tire, which means multiple parties could be held accountable if a blowout causes injury.
Common Causes of Semi-Truck Tire Blowouts
- Improper inflation. Every tire has a recommended level of inflation for safe operation, commonly known as the tire’s PSI (pounds per square inch). If a truck tire is overinflated or underinflated, it can build up heat and explode. Truck drivers and trucking company maintenance crews are responsible for checking the PSI of tires before and during every trip. If an improperly inflated tire blew out and caused a crash, the driver and employer could be held liable.
- Overloading. Trucks have cargo weight limits for several reasons, one of them being the number of tires. If a trailer carries more weight than the number of tires can support, it could cause the failure of one or more tires. The trucking company or third-party supplier could be held responsible for a crash caused by overloading.
- Defective tire. If a tire came from the manufacturer with a defect that later caused a blowout, the tire maker could be held accountable. However, it is more common for a fault to develop over time through ordinary wear and tear. Regular inspections by the truck’s owner and the driver could prevent a worn tire from blowing out, so these parties could be held liable if a crash occurs due to a defective tire.
- Insufficient maintenance. Poorly maintained mechanical systems—such as brakes, drive train components, and trailer hitches—could contribute to the deterioration of truck tires. The trucking company is responsible for maintaining its fleet of trucks, but individual drivers also play a role in maintenance.
- Driver error. If a driver fails to avoid a hazard on the road, drives off the roadway and damages a tire, or is negligent in handling the rig after a tire blowout, they could be held liable for the crash they caused. In addition, the driver’s employer could also be responsible if the driver was not adequately screened and trained when hired.
It takes a skilled truck crash investigator to determine what caused the tire blowout that led to your crash. At Keller & Keller, we have decades of experience holding truck drivers and trucking companies accountable for their negligent actions.