A tire blowout while driving can be terrifying. If a tire explodes on the road, the booming sound and sudden shift in momentum can induce panic in even the most experienced drivers. Not every driver is an expert, and no one expects drivers to have a mechanic’s knowledge of every aspect of a vehicle, but they should understand basic maintenance and what to do in certain situations before you get behind the wheel.
Many tire blowouts turn disastrous because of the driver’s response to the blowout. When a tire blows out, the vehicle tends to drift in the direction of the popped tire. Some drivers, especially those driving at a high speed, might instinctively turn the wheel sharply in the opposite direction to keep the vehicle on course. Though it may sound counter-intuitive, the best method for safely handling a blowout is to gently accelerate to maintain forward momentum, and then lightly apply the brakes once you have aimed the vehicle steadily forward and away from traffic.
Unfortunately, most people won’t have the presence of mind to remember this tip in the event of a blowout. If the worst happens, and you are injured in a tire blowout accident, you need to understand your options for legal recourse if another party is to blame.
Proving Negligence and Product Liability
If another party is responsible for your injuries from a tire blowout, your first course of legal action should be to determine who is exactly at fault. If a tire manufacturer failed to follow accepted industry standards for its product, it put consumers at risk, and your attorney may suggest filing a product liability claim.
Product liability laws exist to ensure that manufacturers release only safe, effective products that perform as the manufacturer intended. They must use safe designs that meet all industry requirements, use consistent manufacturing operations and materials to ensure consistency and quality, and must adequately warn consumers of any risks associated with the use of the product. They must also provide thorough instructions for the proper intended uses of the product.
If you or someone else finds the manufacturer used a defective design, faulty manufacturing processes, or failed to represent the product accurately, then you may want to pursue a product liability claim for the damage done by the defective product.
You may also need to prove negligence to win your case. For example, if a shop recently repaired your tire, the technician who performed the repair work may be held accountable if this person failed to do it sufficiently. Proving negligence revolves around proving three facts to a judge:
- The defendant (the party being sued) had a duty to act with reasonable care. Following the above example, auto mechanics must perform their work to standard to ensure customers’ safety.
- The defendant failed to fulfill this duty or breached this duty in some way. Perhaps the mechanic skipped a step or incorrectly applied a substance to your tire, creating a hazard.
- This breach of duty directly resulted in the plaintiff’s (the person bringing the suit) injuries. The plaintiff may only sue for damages directly resulting from the defendant’s breach of duty.
Keep in mind that the state of Florida operates under comparative negligence law, meaning that the court may reduce a plaintiff’s damages by the percentage of fault if the court finds that the plaintiff to have been in some way responsible for the incident. According to the law, drivers must have a reasonable knowledge of proper techniques in certain situations. This is why vigilance is crucial: if you over-steer, slam on the brakes, or swerve too sharply, you may be found partially at fault for your injuries due to taking unreasonable actions.