A much unpublicized danger on roads and highways in the United States involves tires and wheels falling off of trucks. These steel wheels with an attached tire can weigh more than one hundred pounds. And, traveling at a high speed they can cause serious injuries and deaths. Many lawsuits have been filed for victims of these tragic accidents.
In flying wheel cases, the victim usually has no way to avoid the flying object. Victims can include a motorist, motorcyclist, bicyclist, or pedestrian who are struck by the tire or a wheel fragment. Other victims include department of transportation workers, road repair workers, and even state police officers. A loose, flying tire wheel moving at great speed can cause instant death to an unprotected and unsuspecting person.
It is wise to contact an experienced truck accident lawyer as soon as possible after a flying wheel injury incident. Determining the reasons that the tire came off the vehicle is essential to proving and winning a case. Many times, there needs to be a search for the tire parts and other debris to piece together how the incident happened in the first place.
An inspection of the truck and its parts should be performed as soon as possible after the incident. A lawyer will demand the trucking company preserve the vehicle and all parts without making any repairs or modifications before it is inspected. The truck and parts will need to be closely inspected and photographed, and some parts may need to be removed and stored until the matter is resolved.
A proper forensic investigation can involve an accident reconstruction expert, mechanical engineer, and a metallurgist. Each expert has a unique and separate role in the analysis. Many times, they work in conjunction with other to make a universal determination as to the cause of the incident.
The investigation goal is to determine all of the reasons the tire and wheel came loose from the truck. Some common reasons why a wheel will fly off a moving truck include:
Old and worn parts, like broken axels, or axels in disrepair or rusted
Hub separations, including when a wheel bearing fails
Defects in the tire itself, like manufacturing and maintenance problems
Improper installation of parts
Further, obtaining the trucking company maintenance and repair records is an essential part of the process. In many cases, there were repairs issues identified before the incident and never made. Other times, there were simply no regular inspections of the necessary parts of the vehicle.
The lack of necessary maintenance and the failure to perform a proper inspection the motor vehicle before it is allowed to be driven on a public roadway can provide the basis for liability in a flying tire lawsuit. There may be multiple reasons for this type of occurrence, including a combination of poor maintenance, defective parts, and the failure to inspect the vehicle before the incident. Identifying all of these issues and documenting them through records, photographs, and expert testimony are the keys to proving liability in every trucking accident case.
Commercial trucking companies are required by law to have liability insurance policies. Most policies provide for a minimum of $1,000,000 in bodily injury benefits. These policy limits help to compensate the victims for the injuries by trucking company negligence.