Recent Fatality Reminds of the Deadly Danger Of Trucks With Loose Wheels

Earlier this month, Massachusetts state police shared on social media something all car drivers fear: a truck wheel breaking loose. According to the post, a state trooper stopped a commercial truck after seeing that the large vehicle had a half-loose tire. The accompanying photo showed that the wheel had only four out of eight lugs attached, with half of its hub studs completely gone.

It was “stupid and frightening,” police said in the post. “Lucky we caught it before that makeshift attachment to the axle failed and the wheel flew off and killed a motorist.”

As a commuter, it’s definitely a nightmare to see an 18-wheeler or a semi with a wheel breaking off and hurtling down the highway. Unfortunately, this occasionally happens in the US, including right here in California, posing a grave danger to everyone on the road.

Runaway Truck Wheel Fatalities

“Wheel-offs” or wheel separation may not happen frequently, but when they do, the risk for catastrophic injuries and deaths is huge.

Just this past November, a car driver was killed by a flying tire that broke loose from a big rig in San Clemente, CA. The September before that, a car driver also died in Los Angeles after being crushed in his seat by a runaway wheel of a Dodge Ram pickup.

Several other truck tire deaths occurred last year across the US, including a Georgia woman who was struck dead by a loose pickup tire while she was walking her dog, and a Maine state trooper who sustained fatal injuries from a tractor-trailer wheel-off accident.

Getting hit by a flying tire is not the only danger with loose truck wheels. The truck itself can easily overturn, given its size, weight, and momentum. A truck rollover accident can cause additional injuries and fatalities.

Transportation officials say that runaway tire accidents are rare, hence there is very little data on them. However, some accident experts believe that these disasters are largely underreported. According to forensic engineer Mark Bailey, who has examined thousands of crashes in the last three decades, wheel separation occurs “probably at least 50,000 times a year in North America.”

With at least two runaway tire incidents occurring in California just in the past few months, it may be worth knowing what to do in the event of this horrifying accident. If you or a loved one was injured, you could pursue a personal injury claim to cover your medical bills and other expenses. If someone in your family tragically died from a runaway wheel accident, you may be able to file a wrongful death case.

Who Is At Fault In A Loose Truck Tire Accident?

When a flying truck wheel causes a death or a serious injury, the victim’s family will naturally want to pinpoint who is at fault in the accident. This is especially true in California, where the fault-based legal system holds the at-fault party liable for paying damages. It is crucial in our state to establish which party (or parties) caused the accident.

If a commercial truck was involved, investigators will likely look into the trucking company. The law requires these companies to ensure that their trucks are well-maintained, road-worthy, and operated by qualified drivers. Sadly, commercial truck companies often take safety shortcuts in terms of vehicle maintenance and staffing, ultimately risking the lives of everyone around their vehicles.

The truck driver will also be asked about any vehicle inspection they might have done before climbing into their rig. Before going on the road, truck operators should confirm that all vehicle components are functioning properly, including the wheels, engine, brakes, trailer attachment, and lights.

In some cases, a third party may be found liable as well. For instance, a tire repair shop or mechanic may be blamed for improperly attached wheels, or a tire distributor could be found to have sold defective wheel parts.

Note that there could be multiple parties at fault in a single truck accident. To help you determine all the liable parties, enlist an experienced accident lawyer for a thorough examination of your case.

Having an attorney is also vital if you are up against a commercial trucking company. You can expect to face their strong defense team and assertive insurance adjusters, all of whom could make it extremely difficult for you to obtain fair compensation on your own.

Start by consulting with a truck accident attorney. We offer free initial consultation at Hamparyan Personal Injury Lawyers in San Diego.

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