We hear about serious car accidents on Interstate 95 in Fairfield County all the time. It’s one of the most heavily traveled roadways in the country, where a single mishap can set off a catastrophic chain reaction. Some of the most dangerous of those mishaps are wheel runoffs. They can happen in a split second at high speed.
What’s worse, a rogue wheel in the southbound lane can travel over the median strip and strike vehicles in the northbound lane. Accidents can be caused when vehicles swerve to avoid the wheel. And depending on where the accident happens, a wheel can be launched at a high speed and hit unsuspecting pedestrians, bicyclists, or even people inside buildings or houses.
Let’s not forget the damage that can be caused by a vehicle that loses a wheel. When traveling at high speed, a vehicle can careen out of control. It can result in a head-on collision, lane-departure accident, rollover, pedestrian accident, rear-end accident, or single-vehicle accident.
Poor wheel mounting and bearing failure are common factors
When a wheel detaches from a vehicle, it’s most commonly caused by poor mounting or installation, according to Crash Forensics. Over-torquing the lug nuts can cause the bolts that hold the wheel in place to warp and eventually fail. Lug nut torque should only be around 100 foot-pounds. However, when fastened using impact wrenches, torque capability can be increased to 300 to 500 foot-pounds. At this range, it is impossible for bolts to maintain Clamp Load. They become overstretched beyond their capacity and are unable to revert back to their original form.
Under-torqued lug nuts can eventually loosen and fall off. Poor wrench quality, rust, or eroded bolts can be common factors.
Wheel installation isn’t the only cause of wheel runoffs. In some cases, the wheel hub and bearings can be the culprit if they lack lubrication, and if the axle nut was installed too tight or loose. Loading a vehicle behind its weight capacity can also cause problems with the hub and bearings. Warning signs may include leaking, uneven tire tread wear, smoke, clicking, popping sounds, grinding, and general instability.
Who is the responsible party in a wheel runoff accident?
Finding who is at fault in a wheel runoff accident isn’t easy. Many factors can come into play:
- Did the vehicle fail inspection, but was still driven?
- Did the driver improperly install the wheel him or herself?
- Was the vehicle poorly maintained by a mechanic?
- Did the manufacturer produce a defective wheel component?
Handling this type of accident requires the legal knowledge and skill of an experienced car accident attorney. Based in Fairfield County, auto accident attorney Jeremy Vishno has over 25 years of experience helping injured motorists maximize their compensation. To schedule your free consultation, contact Vishno Law Firm today.