Unsafe Tires Cause Car Crashes
By: chris.placitella @ Dec 17, 2014
260,000,000 x 4 = 1.04 billion. That’s a conservative estimate of the number of tires in use today on just the four-wheeled motor vehicles in the United States. The tire is one of the most important components of a motor vehicle. As the only connection between the vehicle and the ground, if it blows or the tread separates from the tire, serious injuries can occur. Lawyers representing the motor vehicle accident victims who have suffered catastrophic personal injury must perform a tire investigation to determine if it caused or contributed to the crash.
What is the history of the tire? Has the tire been recalled? Has the tire outlived its useful life? When and where was the tire manufactured and/or mounted? Is this a tire model that has a history for failures or problems? And did the tire cause or contribute to the happening of this crash, or was it damaged as a result of the crash? These questions and others must be addressed by experienced and knowledgeable attorneys and a team of multidisciplinary experts.
Tire failure can cause a vehicle to go out of control, often with tragic and fatal results. After a tire failure the vehicle may cross over into oncoming traffic, roll over or go off the road. And the innocent and injured victims are not only those drivers of the crash vehicle, but also pedestrians, other motorists, and vehicle occupants. General vehicle safety must always be considered in the investigation of any serious motor vehicle accident, but tire safety must be investigated specifically.
Some of the issues that must be considered in a thorough investigation are:
- Recalls. If a tire manufacturer knows that the tire is defective or has a safety problem, it has a duty —legally, morally and ethically—to inform consumers. However, there is no effective tire recall system in the United States, and as a result some retailers and service centers are still selling and mounting recalled tires.
- Old Tires. When a tire ages, the rubber begins to deteriorate, and as the components dry out of the tire begins to decompose. This can lead to a tread separation, known as a “detread”. This decomposition occurs whether the tires are in use on the vehicle, stored at home or on the shelves of tire distributors or retail dealers. The U.S. National Highway Safety Administration places a short (6 year) useful life limitation on tires depending on surface conditions and the environment in which they operate.
- Known Tire Defects. Tire tread separation is one of the more common types of tire failure and can occur for a number of reasons, including unsafe design, manufacturing defects, insufficient resistance to aging, or contamination. There are design and manufacturing steps that can greatly reduce the risk of tread separation, yet not all tire manufacturers take those steps. And even if designed to fit certain specifications, not all tires that are manufactured will meet those specifications. Whether a tread separation is the result of a defective tire may depend upon the tire design (a “design” defect) or upon how well that tire was made (a “manufacturing” defect).
An effective crash investigation requires a substantial investment of time, money and resources. Investigating attorneys need experience and knowledge in this specialized practice area and must also have the financial resources to do the job properly. You need a team that is quickly assembled and able to handle cases anywhere in the country. In addition to experienced counsel, the team should include investigators to visit the accident site and inspect the vehicle and , and attorneys must have access to experts in tire design and manufacture, material science, mechanical engineers, accident reconstruction, biomechanical engineers, computer and “black box” specialists, paralegals and other experienced legal secretaries and assistants. The tire and other physical evidence must be preserved, handled carefully and in keeping with accepted chain of evidence protocols and best practices to avoid “spoliation of evidence”.
The law firm of Cohen, Placitella and Roth has over 41 years of experience in successfully representing plaintiffs in products liability and motor vehicle cases. Our firm has the knowledge and resources to properly investigate whether a defective tire or some other set of facts caused a vehicle crash, and hold the manufacturer responsible. Some of our results include:
- A $10.69 Million recovery on behalf of the estate of a father killed when a truck tire separated causing the accident.
- A confidential recovery on behalf of a deceased young woman killed when the defectively designed seatbelt system dragged her out of the car during an automobile crash.
- An $8.5 million dollar verdict against a car manufacturer of an SUV that was unstable SUV and rolled over, ejecting the passenger who lost her leg in the incident.
- A confidential settlement against a truck manufacturer for the design of its truck cabin when a passenger lost his leg after the truck structure came apart in an accident.
- A confidential settlement against an SUV manufacturer when the driver of that vehicle was killed after the vehicle rolled over and its roof crushed down onto the victim/driver.
- A confidential settlement against a tire manufacturer for the negligent design of a defective tire that lead to a crash and multiple deaths.
If you have any questions about this article or wish to discuss a current case or investigation please contact Stewart Cohen or Joel Rosen to discuss this further.
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