Wheel Runoffs: A Serious Wilmington Car Accident Threat
You may not hear about them every day in greater Wilmington, but wheel runoff accidents can be devastating, and even fatal, to anyone affected. They often happen on roads where vehicles travel at high speeds, such as on Routes 17 and 117.
When a wheel detaches from a vehicle moving at a high speed, it can be thrown in any direction. It can strike vehicles following behind or bounce off a median strip and into oncoming traffic.
Detached wheels can also roll off overpasses and strike vehicles below. Pedestrians, bicyclists and building or home occupants can also be struck by a wheel runoff.
What causes wheel runoff accidents?
According to Crash Forensics, there are two primary causes of wheel runoff accidents: improper wheel mounting and complications with bearings.
When installing a wheel, it should be mounted evenly, and lug nuts should be tightened at around 100 foot-pounds. When lug nuts are under-torqued, wheel movement and vibrations from the road can cause them to come loose over time. Under-torquing can be caused by lack of experience installing wheels and rust on the wheel bolts.
Wheel bolts are generally flexible and can retract to their original shape. This is called “clamp load.” When lug nuts are over-torqued, the wheel bolts can be overstretched, eventually causing them to fail. Over-torquing is often caused by overuse of impact wrenches, which are capable of tightening lug nuts at 300 to 500 foot-pounds.
The wheel and hub bearings can also be the culprit in a wheel runoff accident. This often happens when there isn’t enough lubrication to allow them to move without friction. Other factors include improper installation of an axle nut and loading too much weight on a vehicle.
Who can be found negligent?
Wheel runoff accidents are not as conventional as other types of accidents. They are complex and require thorough investigation in order to determine where the negligence occurred. Responsible parties may include, but are not limited to:
- The driver or owner of the vehicle: The driver of the vehicle may have known about the mechanical defect and failed to do anything about it. Even if the driver knew, he or she may have attempted to fix it alone and failed to properly mount the wheel. The driver may not always be the owner of the vehicle. The vehicle could have been used by a business, in which the owner was responsible for maintenance.
- A mechanic who worked on the vehicle: Not all mechanics know what they’re doing. Mistakes such as poor wheel installation are more common than you think. In this case, the mechanic may be found negligent in a wheel runoff accident.
- A vehicle parts manufacturer: Some vehicle parts come with glitches and defects. When an accident occurs because a vehicle part failed to function properly, the manufacturer or distributor may be found negligent.
If you or a loved one was injured in a wheel runoff accident, don’t hesitate to speak to a highly skilled Wilmington car accident attorney as soon as possible. At The Law Offices of Richard Flexner, no car accident is too complex. Our legal team will get to the bottom of it. Contact us today to schedule a free case evaluation.