A car tire, amongst many other functions, carries the weight of a car. They are there to ensure that the vehicle’s weight is well maintained and tilting and imbalance is avoided. A stationed car without a tire may not be much of an issue, as its weight and balance can be kept with a properly placed jack and wheel chock. However, if a car in motion ever has its tire fall off, it can prove to be a disaster not only to the driver but also to the road users at the given time or anyone near the environment.
Many drivers do not have enough time to react and avoid the flying wheels even though they’re maintaining a safe distance. This is because the falling off happens almost unexpectedly, and when it does, no one knows the direction in which the tires will ferociously bounce.
According to 2019 data from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), 612 motor vehicle fatalities are tire-related crashes. Federal records also show that loose wheels cause an average of three daily crashes on US highways.
A tire on motion that falls off can continue its journey down any road, crossing into another and crushing into anything and anyone on its path until it hits a stop. For example, the force from semi-truck tires that averagely weigh between 105 and 110 pounds coming off can be soo great that it crushes a whole windshield and hits the driver behind the steering.
Various cases of tire fall can be seen here, where a tire falls off on a highway, crosses into another road below the bridge, damages oncoming vehicles, and injures the drivers. Also, another example was cited where a tire falls off a moving vehicle on a highway and travels down the road till it hits the door of a hotel conference room nearby, obliterating their setup and nearly injuring people in the room.
Causes of A Tire Fall Off
The pit crews during an F1 race make it look as though a tire is replaced by mere hanging it within a few seconds. It’s not as easy as they make it appear. They are professionals who use sophisticated equipment, hence making it looks easy.
However, one must note that the tires of a moving vehicle comprise different units like the lug nuts, the rim, etc., that must be in proper alignment. Failure to properly align these parts can result in a tire falling off.
The most common cause of a tire fall off is a lug nut coming off. The lug nut is a fastener, specifically tightened on the wheels to ensure the tire and its surrounding components assemble appropriately to the vehicle.
A broken axle can also cause a tire to fall off.
Who Is Liable For A Tire Fall Off Crash?
Not all tire fall incidents are freak accidents. They can be predictable and preventable if proper measures have been observed before setting out with a vehicle.
For example, a lug nut should not come off; it should be well-fastened. It can be prevented by using proper tools while fastening, following maintenance schedules, and using safety equipment like wheel nut indicators.
Victims of these incidents can bring an action against different parties, including a negligent driver, mechanics, defective parts maker, etc., to get compensation for personal injuries and/or vehicle replacement and repairs.
An example is the case of Wood v. City of Detroit, who filed an action in court after he sustained significant bodily injuries when he was struck by a tire that fell off a moving vehicle while crossing the street at an intersection.
In proving who is liable, an attorney must seek to prove that the tire falling off was caused by the negligence of another party. There are cases where a mechanic uses improper tools like hands to tighten a lug nut. If such negligence on the part of the mechanic can be proven, then the victim has a case.
A manufacturer of a defective product like an axel or lug nuts can also be held liable if a tire falls off.
Using Vehicular Crash Animation To Prove Liability
An attorney can work with expert witnesses, traffic accident investigators, and other experts on a case to prove the cause of a tire falling off. It requires in-depth knowledge and investigation to prove that the sued party caused the fall-off.
When reports from this have been put together, an attorney can seek the services of a crash animation company to illustrate the events surrounding the crash and showcase errors caused by the sued party.
The animation will serve as a visual aid to the jury to help them understand the cause of the crash and how the other party is liable. It can help them illustrate the proper way a wheel should be attached to a vehicle and show the effect of not fastening it the appropriate way.