Tire Blowout Cases in Florida
How to Prove Driver Negligence
We’ve all seen strips of rubber from blown-out tires littered along the side of the highway. You may not give them much thought – just the usual debris along the road.
But tire blowouts are a much more serious cause for concern than most drivers realize. They’re one of the top causes of vehicle accidents in the U.S., and as of the last count by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, tire blowouts cause more than 75,000 accidents per year.
What Causes a Tire to Blow Out?
Tires give out for a number of reasons, usually without warning. Some of the most common reasons why your tires fail are:
- Large cuts in the tire, often from sharp debris
- Small punctures to the tire that lose air slowly
- Defective Wheels and Tires
- A vehicle that’s overloaded with weight
- Other environmental factors
Unlike your engine that warns you about an upcoming issue with its check engine light, tire blowouts rarely come with a warning. One minute you’re cruising down the highway and the next you’re wrestling the wheel after hearing a loud, heart-stopping pop.
Tire blowouts are unpredictable which is why tire maintenance is one of the most important ways to stay safe on the road and keep your tires intact.
Every Driver in Florida is Expected to Keep their Vehicle’s Tires in Good Working Condition
As with every tool, regular maintenance is the key to consistently reliable performance. Your tires are no different.
Tires are one of the features of a vehicle that most people take for granted until there’s a problem. Drivers just assume they’ll do their job. But every driver is responsible for ensuring that their vehicle’s tires are safe for driving not only for their own well-being but for the safety of the other drivers on the road.
That’s why it is important to check your tires every day before jumping behind the wheel. A simple glance down at each tire to look for any changes to its shape is a good first step. If you notice a wheel looks flat, drive to a local gas station and check your tire pressure.
See more Tire Maintenance Safety Tips from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
And, of course, annual inspections and regular tire rotations are the best way to make sure your tires are always in good working condition.
For more information on how to care for your tires, read this comprehensive Guide to Tire Safety and Maintenance from the NHTSA.
You Can Control How Well You Maintain Your Tires. But You Can’t Control How Well the Person Driving Next to You Cares for Theirs.
If you’re involved in an accident caused by a tire blowout from another driver’s vehicle, then you may have a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver.
Drivers are required to drive like a ‘reasonably prudent person’ in Florida. This is a legal standard for a hypothetical driver who must act how society would expect under similar circumstances.
Drivers are also expected to maintain their vehicles, keep tires properly inflated and drive with functioning tires.
In cases where the driver did not take one or more of these steps to ensure the safety of himself and other drivers around him, he may be found negligent and thus obligated to compensate you for your damages (personal injury and otherwise).
In a Tire Blowout in Florida, is the Driver Automatically Liable for Any Damages that are Caused?
Not necessarily. Tire blowouts may seem straightforward, but liability can also depend on many other circumstances of the accident.
For instance, if a driver takes every precaution and maintains their tires – makes sure they’re inflated properly and has them regularly rotated and inspected – but runs over debris on the road that leads to a blowout, they may (or may not) be liable.
Why? Because the facts are everything. The events that led up to the tire blowout can be the difference between whether or not the driver was negligent.
For example, if the debris that caused the blowout fell off of a truck in front of the car, giving the driver no time to move out of the way, that may not be considered negligence (the truck driver may be negligent though). If, however, the driver ran over debris that he could clearly see ahead of him with time to change lanes or move out of the way, that could be a case of negligence.
Of course, if the driver was speeding down the highway when his tire blew out, and the speed was proven to be a factor in the blowout, negligence is a bit easier to prove.
Another variable in tire blowout cases is how old the tires are, who manufactured them when they were installed, and by whom. There’s a big difference between a set of bald tires installed five years ago with 25,000 miles on them that have never been rotated, and a set of tires just recently installed.
In the first scenario, there’s a good chance of driver negligence. In the second scenario, the negligence may fall on the mechanic who installed the tires or the manufacturer who built them.
Tire blowout cases include a surprising number of factors and it’s not always clear where to point the finger. When trying to prove driver negligence, you’ll have to prove, with admissible evidence, that the events that led up to the blowout were avoidable on the part of the driver. Meaning, the at-fault driver knew or should have known of the dangerous condition.
What Should You Do if You’re Involved in Accident Due to a Tire Blowout in Florida?
If you’ve been involved in an accident caused by a tire blowout on another driver’s car, there are actions you can take right away to prove driver negligence. Start with these three steps.
1. Determine What Caused the Accident
If possible, try to figure out why the tire blew out. Write down what you remember about the condition of the driver and vehicle. Start by asking yourself these questions:
- Did the driver of the other car run over debris?
- Did they hit a pothole?
- Did the remaining tires on the driver’s car look old with worn-out tread?
- Did the vehicle look overloaded, adding weight to the tires?
- What was the overall condition of the vehicle?
2. Gather Photos from The Scene
Take photos of your and the other driver’s vehicle, as well as the general scene. If you do identify the cause of the tire’s failure, photograph that as well. If you didn’t take photos when the accident occurred, contact witnesses to see if they have photos or notes from the accident.
3. After Getting Medical Attention, Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Lawyer
Especially if you’re injured and your car is damaged, contact a Florida personal injury lawyer. The more evidence, photographs, and notes you can provide them with, the better the chance of proving negligence and winning your case. (Note: when seeking medical attention, be sure to be completely truthful about your injuries AND your past medical history – even if it includes prior accidents. Don’t give the insurance company an excuse to deny your claim or question your truthfulness.)
4. File a Lawsuit and Request Discovery
After you file a lawsuit, a lot will be learned once you engage in the discovery process. Discovery includes interrogatories, requests for admissions, and depositions. This process gives you the opportunity to get the facts. Like, how often did the at-fault driver check/rotate/replace his or her tires? Here, the injury victim can also find other parties to hold accountable for their injuries. Were the tires faulty (manufacturer liability)? Were they installed properly (tire shop liability)? Was there prior damage to the tire?
The Bottom Line
Drivers in Florida are expected to drive like reasonably prudent persons, care for their vehicles and perform regular tire maintenance to avoid tire blowouts.
Proving driver negligence in a tire blowout case is not cut and dry. The more evidence you can gather about the condition of the tires and the cause of the blowout at the accident scene, the easier it will be to prove driver negligence.
If you’ve been harmed by a tire blowout due to driver negligence, a good piece of advice is to speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer before you file a claim, to learn about some of the issues that can arise with these claims. This includes the type of evidence needed to prove a claim and the type and amount of damages you can recover.
Most personal injury lawyers, like Alan Sackrin, will offer a free initial consultation (over the phone or in-person) to answer your questions.
Do You Have a Question?
Please fill out the “Talk With An Attorney” form above to ask a question or you can call Alan Sackrin at 954-458-8655. He promises to get back to you promptly. Ask now.