Product Liability Lawyer for Defective Tires
Unfortunately, when you are traveling on the highway, there are many different factors that could cause a serious collision; however, one risk you may not consider as often as you should is the threat of mechanical failure. You trust your tires to get you from point A to point B, but sometimes they are not so reliable. While regular maintenance, tire rotations, and inspections can all help prevent tire blowouts, some tires may simply be defective in nature.
If you've been involved in a collision due to a tire blowout, call Arnold & Itkin today at (888) 493-1629.
The NHTSA estimates that 8,000+ car accidents every year can be attributed to tire blowouts. A tire blowout refers to a situation in which a tire loses air rapidly and explosively, resulting in a loss of control over the vehicle. The tire can quickly deflate as it loses air, placing the vehicle at an increased risk for a rollover. When a vehicle has a defective tire, this may significantly compromise a driver's ability to maneuver the vehicle. This may lead to a single-vehicle or multi-vehicle collision that leaves drivers, passengers and even nearby pedestrians or bicyclists seriously injured.
Injured in a Car Crash Caused by a Tire Blowout?
You may be able to move forward with a product liability claim against the manufacturer. Depending on the situation, the distributor or retailer may also be liable. By reviewing your legal options with a skilled auto product liability attorney, you can determine the best course of action to seek and recover the highest settlement or jury award possible. Considering the compensation you receive will be needed to cover medical bills, lost wages and the various other losses, expenses or damages you have experienced, recovering as much money as possible is crucial.
Steps to Take After a Tire Blows Out
Per the NSC, there are a few steps a driver can take to ensure safety after a tire blowout.
Follow these steps if you ever experience a tire blowout:
- Instead of slamming on the brakes, slowly take your foot off the gas pedal.
- Coast to the shoulder or other area way from traffic.
- Stay calm, try not to panic so that you don’t make the situation for dangerous.
- Turn on your emergency flashers, especially if there is low light.
- When waiting for help, stand as far away from your vehicle as possible.
- Wait to change your tire unless there is sufficient room to do so away from traffic.
Causes of Tire Blowouts: Dangerous Defects
One major cause of tire blowouts is low air pressure in tires. Every driver has the responsibility to monitor tire pressure to avoid these types of accidents. Some cars have automatic warning lights to notify the driver when the tire pressure dips below a safe level. If for some reason this warning light fails on a vehicle, the vehicle manufacturer may be liable to some extent for the damage and injuries caused by the tire blowout.
While some of these accidents can be traced to driver error, faulty design of the tire has also been found to be a major cause of tire blowouts. If a manufacturer sells tires made from substandard material or a mechanic installs tires not designed to be used for a specific vehicle type, it could put the driver at risk. Even incorrect installation could create conditions for a dangerous tire blowout and accident.
Over the past decade, millions of tires have been recalled in the United States, all of them manufactured by some of the country's most reputed companies. These recalls have been linked to defective design that causes tread separation, which is the major reason for a tire blow out. Tires are manufactured by integrating several plies or layers. When the design to make these layers stick to one another is defective, it causes the tread to separate while the vehicle is running. Tread separation can also be the result of using weak adhesives. Tires that are manufactured in an unsafe facility and exposed to moisture during the production process may also have improperly adhered treads.
SUVs & Tire Blowouts
SUVs are some of the most popular cars on American roads, and yet these have also been linked to an increased incidence of rollover accidents. Part of the reason for this is that the vehicle design of an SUV leaves it with a long, narrow body, and a high center of gravity. When a tire blowout occurs in an SUV, the vehicle is more likely to lose control and overturn than a passenger car in a similar situation. A prime example of a defective tire-related rollover accident is the series of crashes caused by defective Firestone radial tires fitted on Ford Explorers. These tires were particularly prone to tread separation, causing them to blow out. In 2000, Firestone and Bridgestone were forced to recall approximately 6.5 million defective tires. The following year, the Ford Motor Company recalled about 13 million tires from their Explorer SUVs due to the increasing number of tire blowout injuries and fatalities.
Cooper Tire Defects
From 2000 and 2005, tires manufactured by Cooper Tire were the subject of several recalls and the focus of hundreds of injury lawsuits regarding defective design and manufacturing. These defects have resulted in tire blowouts, tread separation, sidewall failure, loose belts, and other incidents of tire failure.
The Cooper Tire and Rubber Company is headquartered in Findlay, OH with an annual output of ~40 million tires. The company is involved in the design and manufacturing of various kinds of tires including those for passenger cars, light and medium trucks, and motorcycles. They also manufacture tire-related products like tread rubber.
Behind the façade of a successful all-American company, however, lies a sordid network of shoddy design practices and poor manufacturing standards. In the summer of 2000, three former employees of the company's Texarkana and Tupelo plants testified that the company regularly made use of unsafe manufacturing practices to cut costs.
The workers testified that manufacturing malpractice during the production process included mixing plastic, cans, and chicken bones into the tires. They also stated that employees regularly used hand tools to pop air bubbles formed in tire rubber rather than properly discarding the tires. Such practices compromise the tire's integrity, but were considered routine manufacturing practices at the company. Employees also testified against the company regarding the regular, incorrect use of solvents during the manufacturing process. Cooper Tire was aware that incorrect use of solvents could contribute to a disintegration of the tire, but encouraged it anyway.
Other manufacturing defects included the production of tires from old rubber parts. Outdated rubber stock would be held in storage for long periods of time during which it would dry out. The dried rubber would not take curing well and the treads would not hold together. According to employees' testimony, management at Cooper encouraged employees to continue production using the old stock.
Further, the company's Tupelo plant had a leaky roof in the first stage of tire production. Moisture compromising the integrity of tires is a serious concern. When water is introduced to the tire during the manufacturing process it can contribute to tread separation. Cooper management, however, refused to stop production.
Quality and safety flaws at Cooper Tire allowed for increased production and higher profits as the company continued to cut corners in its manufacturing practices. Between 2000 and 2005, the company's tires were responsible for more than 200 fatalities. Cooper has recalled dozens of makes of its tires and continues to face lawsuits from consumers who suffered injuries in accidents caused by the defective tires.
Get Legal Help Now: Call Arnold & Itkin for a Free Case Review
Tire blowouts are not 100% preventable, and there may be other aspects that contribute to one, such as faulty road maintenance. However, if tire companies invest in safer design, and stringent manufacturing, quality control and inspection standards in order to produce more reliable tires, then they can greatly reduce the possibility of a blowout.
If a manufacturer, mechanic, or automotive specialist sold or inspected your defective tires, they could be held liable for not identifying or warning you about the issue. Whether you were sold substandard tires or older showroom times that had been damaged, our car accident lawyers are ready to help. Get in touch with us today.
Fill out a free case evaluation today. We are here to stand up for your right to compensation.