On Friday morning whilst driving my wheel fell off. I was behind a truck taking off at lights and going through intersection at low speed and my wheel fell off. My ute slie for about twenty metres. There was damage to the vehicle and I had to get it towed to get repairs. I had two new tyres fitted on Saturday and had hardly driven my ute because my boss was away (watching the big fight with Danny Green) in Adelaide. I immediately phoned the tyre place and they seemed to be very apologetic. I emailed them photographs I took showing the scratch in intersection and damage to the ute. They replied 'Ok' via email, so I have spoken with the guy who did the job and he has confirmed that he definitely torqued up the wheels before the car went for the alignment and there was no vibrations when the vehicle left there for the test drive afterwards. I am stuck with a $1,200 bill because I am under 21. I will have to borrow money and will not be able to work. Do wheels randomly fall off? I could have been easily have been killed. Any suggestions? Very angry.
Rather than seek advice here, you would be far better speaking to a solicitor as I think it's quite likely you have a case.
Typically it's worth checking your wheel nuts after a few miles so ensure they haven't worked loose. If they didn't tell you to do this, they're likely liable. If they told you to do this but you didn't, it's less likely you would have a successful claim (but not impossible).
First thing to do is to get an independent engineers report into the vehicle and, as I say, find a solicitor.
To answer the main question:
Do wheels randomly fall off.
The answer is:
Even if you did nothing with the car afterward (not torqued the wheel after xx amount of miles), the wheel should not have fallen off. You could have had a single lug nut on there torqued to spec and the wheel would not have fallen off (well, you'd have to do some really heavy duty driving to get it to come off - and I do not suggest anyone test this, because it's still not a good situation). People don't seem to realize it's not the lug nuts which keep the wheels in place, it's the friction between the hub and the wheel (which the lug nuts provide) which keeps the wheels in place.
I agree, the main part of this question is really a legal issue, not a maintenance one, but wheels just do not fall off by themselves. It does happen, but so very rarely does it, and when it does it's most likely due to human error, not to mechanical failure.
As Steve says, pretty much every tyre shop will give you a warning, either verbally or (more usually) on the paperwork telling you to check and re-torque the wheel nuts after a short distance (here in the UK they usually say 50 miles), as they can work loose as the wheel 'settles' onto the hub - although this is very unusual.