Tire Accidents – Did the Failure of the Tires or the Wheels Cause the Accident?

Many times after a serious car or truck accident, an investigation reveals that one or more tires may have failed. The first question that must be answered is whether the tire failed before the crash or as a result of the crash. If the tire failed before the crash, did a manufacturing defect, improper handling, installer negligence, or consumer misuse contribute to the failure?

In most tire accidents, the answer is usually not immediately apparent.  Inspection, analysis, and possibly testing of the tire by a qualified accident investigator or expert who understands tires and their interaction with the road, the wheel, and the vehicles are required to provide the answer.

Accident Site Investigation

If possible, it’s important to conduct an accident site investigation to document tire marks on the roadway and surrounding area as soon as possible after an accident. Tire marks, for example, can quickly be washed away by the weather, faded by the sun, or eroded by traffic.  However, on less‑traveled roadways, tire marks can remain for years. We do not eliminate a site visit merely because of the amount of time that has passed.

Tire and Wheel Examination

Next, the tire in question should be carefully examined as soon as possible after an accident by a qualified tire investigator.  The condition of the tire can be affected by towing the vehicle or by improper storage of the tire and vehicle.  Spoliation (or tire degradation) is a real concern in tire failure cases.

Ideally, the tire should be examined in conjunction with the wheel. The wheel and rim may exhibit scuff marks, scratches, dents, and even wear marks that can provide valuable clues in determining the cause of the failure.  Even balance weights can contribute to the total accumulation of evidence.

The tire/wheel assembly should be examined in the context of vehicle and scene evidence.  For example, abrasions to the tread shoulder or the sidewall of the tire can be indicative of a vehicle in yaw (not going in the correct path).  Irregular tire marks can indicate that the tire was flat prior to the crash, rather than as a result of it.

Once the examination of the tire is completed, a qualified tire investigator can determine whether the tire was a causal factor of the crash or was damaged as a result of the collision. If it is determined that tire failure caused the crash, then the potential causes of the failure must be examined.

Reasons for Tire Failure

Tires can fail for many reasons. There may have been an error in the manufacturer of the tire, the valve, or the wheel.  Tires can fail because of improper installation or repair. They may have been poorly maintained, either by the vehicle owner, the tire maintenance/repair shop, or even the leasing/rental company. The replacement parts used may be faulty.

How We Investigate Tire Failure

In any vehicle accident, it’s important to determine all causes and factors contributing to an accident so that the responsible people or companies are held accountable for their actions.

Our firm is experienced in carefully investigating the causes of car and truck accidents, including accidents in which a defective tire may have played a role in causing the accident. We hire qualified accident investigation examiners, including those who have specialty in identifying defective tires.

Call Us As Soon As Possible If You Have  Been Involved in an Accident, or If a Family Member Has Been killed Due to a Potential Tire or Wheel Defect.

We will meet with you at your convenience so that we can learn about your case and advise you of your options of recovery.  This meeting is free.  We work on a contingency fee basis, which means that there are no fees for us unless we recover for you.

In an accident potentially involving defective tires or wheels, it is important to contact an attorney immediately so that critical evidence is not lost, damaged, or subjected to spoliation.  Auto manufacturers and tire companies would prefer that tires and wheels not be available for trial – as soon as we are retained we seek to locate and preserve this important evidence.


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16020 Swingley Ridge Rd., Suite 340
St. Louis, MO 63017

Contact Us 888.586.7041

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