Liability for a Maryland Car Crash Involving a Tire Blowout

Posted on behalf of Peter T. Nicholl in Car Accidents Published on December 21, 2021 and updated on March 15, 2022.

ripped up tire on carDid you know there are approximately 78,000 car crashes each year caused by bad tires?

These crashes can be very dangerous – in 2017 alone, there were 738 deaths caused by unsafe tire crashes in the U.S., according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). These statistics include crashes caused by tire blowouts.

Some tire blowouts are unavoidable, such as blowouts caused by a sharp object that punctures the tire or blowouts caused by dangerous road conditions.

However, many other tire blowouts are caused by old, underinflated or overinflated tires. Drivers could be held liable for crashes that result from these problems.

Below, we discuss liability for these accidents and what drivers can do to lower the risk of a tire blowout. If you were injured in a car crash, give us a call today to discuss possible legal options. There are no upfront fees or legal obligations.

Overinflation, Underinflation and Tire Blowouts

You may have heard about high temperatures increasing the pressure in car tires, making a blowout more likely to happen. Overinflation could cause the tread to spread apart, which could increase the odds of a blowout.

However, underinflation is also dangerous and could lead to a blowout. Tires could be underinflated for a variety of reasons, including vehicle owners not adding air when the tire pressure light comes on or when they see a tire that appears to be too low.

Low temperatures could also cause tires to lose pressure and become underinflated. This is a significant risk in the wintertime – pressure per square inch (PSI) can drop one square inch for every 10 degrees the temperature decreases.

It is vital for drivers to keep an eye on their tire pressure in extreme temperatures. If you think the pressure may be too low, use a tire gauge to check it out. If the tire is too high or low, adjust accordingly, based on what it says in your vehicle owner’s manual.

If you regularly take your car to the same mechanic, they may add or remove pressure from your tires for free if you bring your car in. If a mechanic charges you it is not likely to be much at all because it only takes a few minutes to adjust the PSI in a tire.

If you are concerned about damage to the tire or the age of the tire, take your car to a mechanic you trust and have them look things over to determine if it may be time for a new tire or a new set of tires.

Other Causes of Tire Blowouts

One of your tires could blowout because a puncture, from something like a nail. The damage might not be bad enough to cause the tire to go flat right away. Air may slowly leak out over time without you realizing it (assuming your car does not have a light alerting you to low tire pressure). If this happens, it may be difficult to prove the driver knew the tire was more likely to blowout.

Potholes could also cause a tire to blowout. These conditions are beyond your control, so if you hit a pothole, your tire blows out, and you get into a crash, you might not be held liable. In fact, you have may have a claim against the entity responsible for maintaining the road. That said, you need to be cautious driving over potholes, particularly if you are aware of a lot of potholes on a particular stretch of road. Driving over them too fast is dangerous and could make a tire blowout more likely.

Overloading your vehicle puts a lot of pressure on your tires. For example, if you are driving a pickup truck and are hauling excessively heavy cargo, your tires may be put under incredible strain. This could increase the chances of a tire blowout. That said, excessive loads are usually only a problem when heavy loads are transported over long distances over a long period.

Driver Responsibilities with Vehicle Maintenance

Conducting regular maintenance of a vehicle is part of the responsibility of owning a car. Drivers are required to take reasonable steps to prevent accidents, and this is one of those steps. If a crash occurs because a vehicle was not properly maintained, the driver could be found liable for damages that result.

As the victim, you would need to prove the crash would not have occurred without the driver’s negligent maintenance of the vehicle. If the crash was caused by a tire blowout, your Maryland vehicle crash attorney may be able to analyze the remains of the tire to determine why it blew out and if it was related to underinflation, overinflation or the age of the tire.

The other driver may argue there was no way to know the tire would blowout. While that is true in some ways, drivers should know when a tire blowout is more likely to happen. If they knew the tire pressure was not where it was supposed to be and knew the tire was old, it would be difficult for them to avoid liability for damages.

What if You are Partially at Fault?

As you may know, Maryland is one of a few states with a harsh contributory negligence law. If you as the victim are found even one percent at fault, you are barred from recovering any compensation.

While there is often no way to avoid a crash with a vehicle with a blown tire, it may be possible for a victim’s negligence to have contributed to a crash. For example, if you were speeding or distracted and unable to avoid a collision with the other vehicle, you may be partially at fault. The same could be said about a driver who was tailgating the other vehicle.

If you were a third party in the crash, you likely have a claim against the driver whose tire blew out and may even have a claim against the other victim of the crash if he or she was negligent the moments before it happened. A third party could be another driver who got hit after the other two vehicles collided.

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