Bald Truck Tires and Their Potentially Deadly Consequences

Whether a person drives a mid-size passenger sedan, a large sport utility vehicle, or a nimble, yet vulnerable motorcycle, once involved in a serious injury-related commercial vehicle accident, dealing with the aftermath of that crash can be nearly as traumatic as the initial event itself. When a roadway wreck caused by a large truck, such as an auto hauler, fully-loaded tanker truck, or 18-wheel moving van, the success of a personal injury claim against the responsible parties can hinge on a number of factors.

At the law offices of Lebowitz & Mzhen, LLC, our legal staff has many years of training and courtroom experience. We make it our business to defend the rights of those innocent victims of injury-related automobile, commercial trucking and motorcycle collisions. When it comes to injuries sustained following an impact from a commercial motor vehicle (or CMV), the odds of receiving a reasonable and appropriate monetary settlement from an insurance company can often be quite slim without legal representation, which makes it all the more important that any victim of a trucking accident should contact a skilled Maryland auto and truck accident attorney.

It is no secret that large companies and big corporations have many times the monetary and legal resources of the average person. Large trucking firms are no exception and their insurance providers usually have teams of lawyers who spend a great deal of time and effort preparing a defense against any significant injury claim filed against them. Our background in Maryland personal injury law allows us to focus on the needs of our clients, who typically suffer from pain, discomfort and financial hardship due to the negligent actions of another party.

In cases where a commercial trucker loses control of his big rig as a result of poorly maintained tires, the parties named in the injury accident lawsuit may include the driver, trucking fleet owner, maintenance facility, truck manufacturer, or the manufacturer of the tire(s) that failed. In cases involving failed tires, that is, when a tire or tires disintegrates catastrophically at high speed or loses air pressure causing a loss of steering or handling control, a personal injury law firm representing the victim will need to gather as many facts as possible.

As Baltimore car and truck injury lawyers, the personal injury experts at Lebowitz & Mzhen are passionate about our role in helping victims recover monetary damages to cover the usually high expenses arising from emergency room care, surgeries, extended hospital stays and physical therapy treatments. For those unlucky enough to be paralyzed or otherwise left in a seriously compromised physical condition for months or years, an injury claim must also consider any long-term nursing care, as well as ongoing medical treatments to maintain the best possible quality of life for the victim.

By law, commercial motor carriers and truckers must comply with those federal regulations that require checking the condition and inflation of truck tires prior to that vehicle going out on the road. Federal and state regulations call for truck drivers to maintain an inspection log detailing the results of their visual inspections. As with any vehicle, the safety of a commercial truck is often dependent on the “health” of the tires on which it rides.

Truck tires must have sufficient tread to provide a sufficient amount of road grip under various driving conditions. If one or more tires on a commercial vehicle are bald, they will be more susceptible to a blowout. Depending on the circumstances at the time of such a tire failure, such as at high speeds or when rounding a corner on an undivided highway, means the chances of that CMV causing a serious accident is rather high. Tire blowouts are sudden events that can result in a truck driver losing control of what is a very large and heavy vehicle. On the beltway or interstate, a catastrophic failure of one or more truck tires can lead to a collision with other smaller vehicle, which in turn can cause serious injury to the occupants in nearby vehicles, as well as to the trucker himself.

It goes without saying that if a trucker or a fleet owner allows a CMV to be put into service in sub-par condition, the actions of those individuals can easily endanger the lives of other innocent people who share the roadway. There is no mystery as to the law. For a truck driver to operate an 18-wheel big rig with bald front tires is a direct violation of federal rules and regulations governing the safe operation of commercial motor vehicles. Such negligence, either by the driver himself or the trucking company, can easily be a factor in deciding whether or not to file a trucking-related personal injury claim.

Federal law requires that tires be inspected before a commercial truck goes out on the road. To provide safe operation, all tires must have a minimum amount of tread left. If any of the tires are bald or if the tread is below the minimum acceptable thickness, there is a much greater chance of a blowout occurring while the CMV is moving at high speed. There are a number of conditions, defined by federal regulations, which make a tire unsafe to put into service. These include:

  • Exposed belts or plies in the tread or sidewall of the tire
  • Evidence of tread or sidewall separation from the rest of the tire
  • Insufficient tread for safe operation
  • Any audible air leaks

In the aftermath of a commercial vehicle crash, when tire failure is indicated as the cause, or a contributing factor of a crash, the professional legal team at Lebowitz & Mzhen will consider many aspects of the accident and circumstances leading to the event. As part of our investigation, we often consider whether the tire failure resulted from one or more possible causes, including ineffective maintenance policy on the part of the fleet owner or maintenance facility, failure of the trucker to adequately inspect the tires prior to beginning the trip, an over- or under-inflated condition that may have led to the failure, possible pre-existing manufacturing defects in the affected tire(s), or excessive heat build-up around the failed tire(s).

Other factors that can cause or contribute to a commercial truck tire failure include potholes or ruts in the roadway, road debris encountered prior to the failure of the tire in question, climatological extremes (excessively hot or cold weather), poor or incorrect steering alignment, overloading of the semi trailer, excessive vehicle speed or aggressive driving on the part of the trucker.

In addition to the dangers presented by a large semi tractor-trailer that is essentially out of control, the loss of cargo during the event, or the throwing off of the tread or tire carcass can cause other vehicles to crash or lose control as well. Motorcyclists are particularly vulnerable to a thrown tread, which can cause significant injury when a rider is hit by one or more large pieces of heavy rubber.

As Maryland personal injury lawyers, we know how one simple mistake on someone else’s part can lead to a tragic result. While nobody can say with certainty whether a serious trucking-related injury accident or fatal crash could have been avoided if a commercial driver or transport company owner had taken measures to ensure the safety of a delivery truck, semi tractor-trailer rig, or interstate motor coach, the lack of effort to maintain vehicle safety can point to negligence that then led to the victim’s injury or death.

As experts in the field of auto and trucking accidents, Lebowitz & Mzhen is dedicated to helping those people who have been the victim of another individual’s careless or reckless actions. Considering how densely packed our beltways and interstates are, the suggestion that any vehicle should be allowed to travel on public roadways in marginal or sub-par condition indicates a marked lack of concern for public safety.

Trucking-related personal injury accidents can and do happen in and near cities like Rockville, Annapolis, Gaithersburg and Washington, D.C. While not every one of these commercial truck accident cases goes to trial, when our lawyers prepare a case, we do so with the intent of taking it all the way to trial. We have found that some plaintiffs, due to a well-prepared case, can actually avoid the often lengthy and exhausting affair that is a personal injury or wrongful death trial. In these instances, an out-of-court settlement can spare victims and their families any additional stress.

If you or someone you know has been hurt as a result of a trucking-related traffic collision, we recommend that the victim or his family find an experienced personal injury attorney with a background litigating commercial trucking injury accident cases. Our attorneys can help victims better understand their legal rights under Maryland injury law. We are ready to sit down with you and discuss your options going forward. Call us, toll-free, at (800) 654-1949, or send an email to either Jack Lebowitz or Vadim Mzhen so that we may arrange a free, no-obligation consultation.