young woman loosening lug nuts on her car tire

Loose Wheels a Hidden Threat for Denver Motorists

Losing a wheel is a hidden risk more common than many motorists realize, creating a danger for you and your passengers, as well as other motorists on the road.

The threat of worn, dangerous or defective tires is well understood in the wake of numerous high-profile accidents and nationwide recalls by major tire brands like Firestone and Goodyear. But losing a wheel can be even more dangerous, leading to loss of vehicle control, roadway departure and impact injuries to passing motorists.

While most modern tires are designed to allow motorists to maintain some control over a vehicle in the event of a flat tire or sudden tire failure, losing a wheel typically results in a suddenly uncontrollable vehicle.

Many newer vehicles come with all-season tires. However, winter snow tires remain common in Denver and the surrounding mountain areas. The most common time for a loose wheel is after tires or brakes have been replaced or serviced, or after tires have been rotated or wheels are otherwise removed from a vehicle at a service center.

Our Denver car accident lawyers know most motorists underestimate the risks for a variety of reasons, including the fact most people have their vehicles professionally serviced because they believe service centers will do so safely.

Common reasons for loose wheels include: 

  • Wheels are improperly installed.
  • Lug nuts are not properly tightened.
  • New wheels are installed with old lugnuts.
  • Wheel studs are loose, worn or stripped.
  • Tires are improperly balanced.

Service-Center’s Worst Nightmare: Loose Wheels

The reality is replacing wheels and tires is an entry level service position at most dealerships. And the growing number of quick-lube and independent tire centers are often staffed by employees with even less experience.

Service managers understand the risks. But the high-volume, repetitive nature of the business means far too many vehicles leave repair centers without being properly inspected by a supervisor.

Motorists typically underestimate the risk of a loose wheel after having their vehicle serviced. Yet far too many vehicles hit the road with dangerously loose wheels as a result of a number of common service scenarios.

  • Dealerships rely upon air-driven, pneumatic impact wrenches. Too many people using the system at once can result in air-pressure that is insufficient to properly tighten a wheel.
  • Wheels should be checked by hand with an appropriate torque wrench properly set according to vehicle and wheel specifications.
  • Vehicles getting new wheels often require different lugnuts. Using the same lugnuts can create a poor fit that doesn’t allow the wheel to tighten securely.
  • Worn or stripped lug posts can prevent lugnuts from tightening properly. Yet these are not often replaced, even when damage is noted.
  • Improperly balanced wheels can create vibration. Even minor vibrations, unfelt by the driver, can cause a wheel to quickly loosen, creating life-threatening risks at driving speed.

Service managers understand the risks. Yet they often fail to hand-check a technician’s work. Once a vehicle has been lowered to the ground, loose wheels or other dangerous conditions involving wheels or tires can also be more difficult to identify.

What to Do After a Loose Wheel Falls Off

Sudden loss of a wheel at driving speed can result in an uncontrollable vehicle. Loose wheels also create serious hazards for oncoming motorists as many cases have resulted in a wheel bounding into a passing vehicle or through a windshield. In other cases, motorists have been forced off the road trying to avoid a loose wheel.

Motorists who have suffered a loose wheel after service should take a number of steps:

  • Carefully document the wheel, studs, and lugnuts by taking pictures from your cell phone while still at the scene.
  • Request law enforcement come to the scene and make a report.
  • Do not attempt to replace the wheel at roadside. One loose wheel makes it very likely other wheels are loose. This may not be possible to determine without the vehicle being jacked up so the wheels spin freely.
  • Have the vehicle towed on a flatbed to a different service center.
  • Save all receipts, both from the service center that created the dangerous condition, and the repair facility to which the vehicle is towed.
  • Contact an experienced Denver car accident attorney before contacting the at-fault service center. Ideally, your vehicle should be carefully inspected before repair work is authorized.

Whether you cause an accident as a result of a loose wheel, or you are the passing victim of someone else’s misfortune, there is a good chance that a third-party liability claim should be pursued against the service center that created the dangerous condition. This can allow for compensation over and above an auto insurance claim. By contacting an experienced car accident lawyer in Denver as soon as possible after an incident occurs, you will be protecting your rights and helping to ensure that conditions at a dangerous repair facility do not continue to endanger the motoring public.

If you have been injured, contact the Denver personal injury lawyers at Bell & Pollock P.C. for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights. Call (800) 559-5920

Contact Us

Call a trusted attorney at Bell & Pollock, P.C. at (303) 795-5900 to get on the road to recovery now. You can also email our firm via the contact firm on this page.

As proud champions of the people, our lawyers are ready to answer your questions, explain the law and your rights, and help you take whatever steps necessary to recover the compensation you’re entitled to. With us in your corner, you can be confident that you have the legal support and representation necessary to successfully resolve your claim.

Don’t delay your recovery for a second longer – and don’t be misguided into thinking that you have to go through the process alone. Our attorneys are here, ready to help – and you won’t have to pay us anything until (or unless) there is a recovery in your case.

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Case Results


CASE: Client was injured by a drunk driver. As a result of the motor vehicle accident, client was rendered a quadriplegic and needed a life care plan.
Outcome: $9,600,000

CASE: Against Insurance company for failure to pay for property damage after a gas and fire explosion.
Outcome: $1,600,000

CASE: Medical malpractice for failure to diagnose a descending aorta aneurism, resulting in death.
Outcome: $1,300,000

CASE: Neck and back injuries from car accident. Client had ongoing symptoms and needed injections for attempted remediation of pain.
Settled for $485,000

CASE: Client was injured in a 2 vehicle collision. She suffered a traumatic brain injury, concussion and multiple injuries to the neck.
Outcome: $6,000,000

CASE: Client was in her car and was T-Boned by a commercial vehicle. Her cerebral spinal fluid leaked and she suffered a concussion and traumatic brain injury with neck and lumbar (low back) injuries. Her neck injury caused radiating pain, numbness and tingling in her arms.
Outcome: $3,400,000

CASE: Client was driving on a rural road when another car crossed the center line and caused a head-on collision in the snow and ice. Client did physical work for a living. Both knees were injured, along with a neck injury.
Outcome: $2,300,000

CASE: Client was driving on South Parker road when another vehicle rapidly changed lanes and rear-ended the client. That vehicle was cited for careless driving. The collision caused a concussion with traumatic brain Injury. Client missed time from work and had a positive correlation between brain scan and neuropsychological test results.
Outcome: $950,000

CASE: Client was rear ended by a dump truck, was then knocked forward and hit another vehicle. Client had a concussion with traumatic brain injury. Client underwent a brain scan which showed hypoperfusion, correlated with her concussion symptoms. Client suffered neck injuries and injuries to her low back.
Outcome: $650,000

CASE: Client was rear-ended. The mechanism of injury from the forces in the collision caused her neck injury and at the same time, damaged her organs inside her throat. Client had swallowing and choking issues.
Outcome: $1,250,000

CASE: Client was in a motor vehicle accident. Both injections in the neck rendered some temporary relief. The Injections were transforaminal epidural steroid injections. Surgery was recommended on the lumbar (low back). The low back was injured by the forces in the collisions.
Outcome: $933,000

CASE: The client was driving in her car and was rear-ended thereby causing injuries to her lower back and neck. Client also suffered a concussion. Client had to undergo facet injections multiple times, through multiple procedures. Client also had cognitive issues which required cognitive training and therapy.
Outcome: $400,000

CASE: Client was entering a highway from an on ramp and was rear-ended by a commercial van. Client tested positive for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome and failed conservative treatment. Client underwent thoracic outlet syndrome surgey, which involved removal of the first rib to attempt to relieve pressure in the thoracic outlet. Client also suffered a back injury.
Outcome: $750,000

CASE: Client was injured by a drunk driver, who crossed the center line of the road. Client underwent multiple surgeries and could not work. Client was late 40s and needed a modified life care plan.
Outcome: $750,000

CASE: Client was rear ended by a tow truck driver who was a diabetic. The diabetic at fault party was a non-compliant diabetic and claimed he had a syncope episode, and was “blacked out”. Client had a preexisting back condition known and the forces from the collision aggravated, or made worse, the preexisting back condition in addition to, causing neck injuries.
Outcome: $350,000

CASE: Client was a passenger in a car where the driver fell asleep on a country road in the early morning hours. The car rolled multiple times. Client had eye injuries, facial injuries and neck and knee injuries.
Outcome: $850,000

CASE: Client was on the job, driving her own car, when she was rear-ended. She suffered a concussion with traumatic brain injury and pursued Workers Compensation Claim.
Outcome: $150,000

CASE: Client slipped and fell on snow and ice in Central City. He suffered back injuries, that did not require injections.
Outcome: $125,000

CASE: Client slipped and fell on snow and ice on a sidewalk in front of a business. She had to have knee surgery and multiple injections in her back.
Outcome: $175,000

CASE: Client was visiting a friend who was renting a house. Client tripped on untreated, dangerous section of deck and injured his back.
Outcome: $150,000

CASE:Client was rear ended and needed fusion spinal surgery. Insurance proceeds were limited.
Outcome: $125,000

CASE:Client was rear-ended and had to have rotator cuff surgery. Insurance proceeds were limited.
Settled for $65,000

CASE:Client was at Denver International Aiport traveling through Denver, slipped and fell and broke her ankle.
Settled for $118,750

CASE:Client was exposed to mold in a multi-family dwelling that was caused by leaking water.
Settled for $125,000

CASE:Motorcycle accident, reconstructive surgery, post-traumatic stress disorder, neurological injuries
Settled for $1,275,000



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