They can happen on Interstate 95, Route 6, or other various roads throughout Rhode Island. When a wheel comes loose, a driver can lose control of his or her vehicle. When wheel runoffs occur, they often result in devastating crashes, including:
- Lane-departure accidents
- Head-on collisions
- Side-impact accidents
- Rear-end accidents
- Single-vehicle accidents
Additionally, the wheel itself can become a danger to other road users. In many cases, loose wheels strike other vehicles on major roads and highways. A loose wheel can crash through someone’s windshield and cause injuries to multiple vehicle occupants.
Crash Forensics has identified several scenarios in which a wheel runoff accident can occur, as well as the factors involved.
Wheel mounting failures
One of the primary causes of wheel runoffs is improper installation of a wheel, often caused by over- or under-torquing lug nuts. This can lead to mounting failures.
Wheel bolts have the ability to stretch and pull back to their original shape. This is called “Clamp Load.” When lug nuts are over-torqued on a wheel, the bolts can be stretched beyond their capacity, reducing their ability to maintain Clamp Load.
On passenger vehicles, the lug nut torque shouldn’t exceed 100 foot-pounds. However, many impact wrenches used by mechanics have a torque capability of 300 to 500 foot-pounds.
Under-torquing lug nuts can result in a loose wheel. Overtime, the lug nuts can fall off. This can be caused by poor wrench quality, as well as eroded or rusted bolts.
Wheel and hub bearing failures
Wheel and hub bearing failures are usually attributed to four factors:
- Lack of lubrication
- Overloading a vehicle
- Over tightening an axle nut
- Loosely installing an axle nut
Warning signs often include leaking hub seals, unusual wear on tire tread, and smoke. Drivers may also experience clicking and popping sounds, wheel grinding, clunking, a vibrating steering wheel, and overall wheel instability.
Who is liable in a wheel runoff accident?
Accidents involving loose wheels can be complex. Finding out who is responsible may require a thorough investigation. Responsible parties may be:
- The driver: Some drivers fail to maintain their vehicles. There may have been clear signs that they have been overlooked or ignored. Additionally, if a vehicle failed an inspection, the driver can be held liable for operating an unsafe vehicle.
- Vehicle parts manufacturer: Defective vehicle parts can be a factor in wheel runoff accidents. If a wheel system component failed to do what it was designed to do, the vehicle parts manufacturer can be held liable.
- Mechanic: Many drivers are responsible when it comes to keeping their vehicles maintained and inspected. However, the poor work of a mechanic could render a vehicle unsafe to drive. In most cases, the driver is unaware of a defect.
If you or a loved one was injured in a wheel runoff accident, you need an experienced auto accident attorney on your side who will leave no stone unturned. No matter how complex your crash may be, attorney Mark B. Morse has the legal knowledge and experience to find out where negligence occurred. Contact us today to get your claim started.