According to 2019 statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, tire blowouts are estimated to cause more than 11,000 crashes a year and more than 200 deaths. Tire blowouts can happen to anyone at any which time. No matter how hard you might work to ensure your vehicle is safe, a stray nail on the road can send your vehicle off course when your tire rolls over it. At high speeds, tire blowouts can be deadly, especially if there is dense traffic around you. A single blowout can cause a multi-vehicle crash, with potentially serious injuries and expensive damage. Whether or not the damage caused by the blowout will be covered by insurance isn’t an easy question to answer. While the tire itself may be covered by its own manufacturer’s warranty, damage to other parts of your vehicle or other vehicles may not be covered by your insurance policy.
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How Blowouts Happen
Tires are a critical part of any motor vehicle, but they’re often ignored and taken for granted by drivers. As they age, tires become less capable of gripping the road. In situations where the road might be wet or icy, the ability to grip the road becomes even more important. It’s not just old tires drivers need to worry about, either. Underinflated or overinflated tires can also cause blowouts. The odds of a blowout increases significantly when tires are improperly inflated or worn out.
Even the newest of tires isn’t immune to a blowout. Heavily loaded vehicles on hot pavement in the summer can experience blowouts, even when tires are new and regularly maintained. An encounter with a particularly nasty pothole can also lead to a slow death of a tire, with drivers failing to notice that any real damage has been done until it’s too late.
When a tire blowout occurs, drivers often lose control of their vehicle. At high speeds, this can cause SUVs to roll over and smaller cars to run off the road completely.
A Driver’s Duty
When determining fault in a car accident, it’s important to understand that all motorists are required to drive in a reasonable manner. For example, if you drive over debris in the road and experience a tire blowout, chances are you won’t be held responsible for an unavoidable accident. An unreasonable reaction, however, like swerving or slamming on the brakes, could make you liable to a certain extent.
Besides driving in a reasonable manner, drivers have a few other duties. All drivers have a duty to inspect their vehicle and look out for obvious problems. It’s not necessary for you to become a mechanic or expert on car care, but you should have a good working understanding of the different parts of your vehicle requiring regular maintenance and how to spot trouble. If you’re sued after a blowout and your tires are found to be bald, you will indeed be held responsible for the damage done. In the eyes of the law, you should have known about the high risk of a blowout and should have opted not to drive on them in that condition.
In addition to your duty to inspect your vehicle, you also have a duty not to drive with defective equipment. Anyone with knowledge of a potentially deadly or dangerous defect should not drive their car until it is repaired. Doing so can lead to serious and even deadly accidents, and you could be held liable if you knew about the risks but did nothing to prevent the blowout.
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Generally, tires are not covered by your automobile insurance policy. Liability coverage, however, may come in handy in the wake of a tire blowout. Should someone get injured or property become damaged as a result of your blowout, your liability coverage may offer compensation. If no other vehicle is involved in your blowout but you still sustain additional damage to your car beyond the tire itself, comprehensive coverage can be helpful. This coverage would help you with the cost of repairing your vehicle, but not replace the tire itself.
In some cases, auto insurance policies include personal injury protection coverage, or PIP. This kind of coverage can come in handy should you suffer injuries when your tire blows out. PIP can help cover the medical costs associated with your injuries. It can also help reimburse you for lost wages if you need time off to recuperate.
Legal Guidance After a Tire Blowout
Following a few simple maintenance guidelines can prevent tire blowouts, but what if it’s too late? If you and your loved ones have experienced a tire blowout that resulted in property damage or injuries, you may be feeling confused about your options. While your insurance company may offer some insight, they will be quick to deny any claim they can.
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