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According to the U.S. Department of Energy, the average passenger vehicle travels around 11,500 miles per year. Meanwhile, the average semi-truck travels a whopping 62,750 miles per year, and long-haul trucks can rack up more than 100,000 miles annually.
Because wheels are the only part of any vehicle that contact the road, they tend to wear faster than other components. And while semi-truck tires are designed to withstand tens of thousands of miles of usage, they need to be replaced regularly or when they show signs of significant wear.
When semi-truck tires aren’t replaced regularly or when needed, or when they aren’t inflated properly (too much or little air pressure), they can blow out. Blowouts are dangerous both when they happen and later when other drivers strike pieces of tire debris in the road.
If you or someone you love is injured in an accident caused by truck debris, you may be able to get compensation, but first, you need to determine who is liable.
Around 9% of truck drivers in the U.S. are owner-operators. These truck drivers own the trucks (and sometimes the trailers) they use to haul goods for other companies. While this can allow truck drivers to earn more money, it also opens them up to more liability because they’re solely responsible for the condition of their trucks and trailers.
If a driver is injured by tire debris from a truck operated by an owner-operator, the truck driver can be held liable for their damages. That’s because the owner-operator should have known that his truck’s tire was worn, defective, or under/overinflated and was responsible for fixing the problem before getting on the road. Unfortunately, some owner-operators neglect regular maintenance to decrease time not on the road and increase their profits.
Because 91% of truck drivers don’t own their trucks or trailers, there’s a good chance that the driver isn’t liable if you’re injured by truck tire debris. Instead, the trucking company that owns the truck or trailer is likely liable for your damages.
Trucking companies often have fleets of trucks that they use to haul goods, and these trucks are typically serviced and repaired on a regular schedule to ensure all components are in good condition.
However, like some owner-operators, some trucking companies delay regular maintenance and repairs to keep more trucks on the road for longer periods. They also may hire inexperienced mechanics and technicians who fail to properly inflate or install tires or fail to notice signs of wear and damage. This can lead to severely worn tires blowing out and damaging nearby vehicles and injuring their drivers and passengers.
Tires aren’t always safe when they leave their factories. Sometimes, tires are sold for use on passenger vehicles or semi-trucks with major defects. When truck tires are defective, they can blow out without warning and with no signs of wear or damage.
In these cases, owner-operators and truck companies usually aren’t held liable for accidents and injuries caused by debris from damaged or blown-out tires. Instead, the manufacturers of the defective tires can be considered at fault for any damages that victims in any resulting crashes suffer.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety says that between 2011 and 2014, road debris was a factor in more than 200,000 police-reported crashes on America’s roadways. These crashes resulted in around 39,000 injuries and 500 deaths.
It goes on to say that tires are one of the most common types of vehicle debris involved in crashes. Sometimes, drivers can avoid truck tire debris by staying alert on focused on the road ahead, but that’s not always possible. For example, truck tire debris can appear suddenly when a truck tire blows out or when another driver strikes a piece of debris that’s already in the road, causing it to hurdle toward another vehicle.
Truck debris is a significant danger on Ohio’s roads. Whether vehicles strike stationary truck debris or are struck by debris that has just come off trucks while in motion, they can sustain serious damage—and their occupants can suffer serious injuries.
Truck tire maintenance (and proper manufacture) are essential for keeping our roads safe, but not all owner-operators, truck companies, and tire manufacturers are committed to safety. Instead, they’re committed to maximizing their profits at the expense of other motorists.
At Nurenberg, Paris, Heller & McCarthy, we have decades of experience building successful truck accident claims for injured victims, including claims for people who were hurt by truck tire debris. Contact us anytime for a free consultation and to learn how our 90+ years of experience can help you get the money you deserve.
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