Most people do not give a great deal of thought to their tires. We trust them to get us and our cars from point A to point B. But sometimes, tires are unreliable and can suffer a blowout. If the tire blowout happens when you are driving at high speed on the highway, there can be serious injuries or even death.
If a tire blows out and causes injury, how do you determine if the tire was defective? By seeking the advice of a good tire blowout attorney, it is possible to ascertain whether or not the blowout was caused by a product defect. If so, you could be entitled to compensation for your injuries, or death, of your loved one, including medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering.
Below is more information about the legal aspects of tire blowouts.
Tire Blowouts and Injuries
According to the NHTSA, 8000 car accidents per year in the United States may be at least partially due to tire blowouts. A tire blowout is a situation where the tire loses its air quickly and explosively. This can result in a loss of control of the vehicle. The tire may deflate rapidly when it is losing air. This alarming situation can put the vehicle at higher risk for a rollover, especially SUVs with a higher center of gravity. The loss of control also can cause the drive to veer off the road and run into immobile objects such as trees or buildings. A tire blowout can easily cause a single or multi-vehicle crash that can leave drivers, passengers and/or pedestrians with serious or fatal injuries.
Many crash victims may not realize that the tire blowout may have occurred due to the manufacturer of the tire and/or the manufacturer of the vehicle. If so, it is possible to file a product liability claim against the responsible parties. Depending on the accident, the retailer or distributor also may be held liable for your injuries.
Common Causes of Tire Blowouts
Millions of car tires have been recalled in the US over the past 10 years. Most of them were manufactured by some of the most well-known companies in the world, including Goodyear and Michelin. Many of these recalls were linked to a defective tire design that led to tread separation. This is one of the biggest reasons that tire blowouts occur.
Tires are made by integrating several layers of rubber. When the design that makes the rubber layers stick to each other has defects, it may cause the tire tread to separate when the vehicle is in motion. Tread separation also can occur if the tire manufacturer uses weak adhesives. Tires that are made in an unsafe facility and are exposed to any moisture during manufacturing can lead to treads that do not adhere properly to one another.
While it is possible for some tire blowout accidents to be caused by driver error, including under or overinflating the tires, as well as debris on the road, faulty tire design is a common cause of tire blowouts. If the tire manufacturer sells products that are made from subpar rubber supplies or a mechanic puts the tire on the car that is not designed for that vehicle, it can lead to a tire blowout. Even putting a tire on a car incorrectly can lead to a tire blowout and serious accident.
Tire Blowouts and SUV Rollovers
SUVs are some of the most popular vehicles on the road today. But these popular vehicles have a higher risk of a rollover accident. Part of the reason is vehicle design of the typical SUV leaves it with a longer, narrower body and a higher center of gravity. When there is a tire blowout on this type of vehicle, the SUV is more likely to lose control and flip than a typical passenger car with a lower center of gravity and wider base.
A good example of a tire-related blowout and rollover is the several serious crashes that were caused by defective Firestone tires on Ford Explorers. These tires were proven to be more prone to tread separation. This led to several blowouts. In 2000, Firestone and Bridgestone were required to recall 6.5 million bad tires. The next year, Ford recalled 13 million tires from their Explorer line because of the higher number of tire blowout injuries and deaths.
From 2000 to 2005, tires that were made by Cooper Tire were recalled several times. There were hundreds of tire blowout personal injury lawsuits related to defective design and manufacturing. These manufacturing defects and bad design led to tire blowouts, tread separation, sidewall failure, loose belts, and other related product failures.
The Cooper Tire and Rubber Company is based in Ohio and produces approximately 40 million tires per year. The company works in the design and manufacturing of various types of tires for passenger cars, trucks and motorcycles. They also manufacture several types of tire-related products including tread rubber. But it has been proven through various legal actions that the company has engaged in questionable product design and low manufacturing standards.
In 2000, three ex-workers for the company testified that the company was using unsafe manufacturing practices to reduce its costs. These workers also testified that during the production process, there were impurities being mixed into tire-making compounds, including plastic, cans and even chicken bones. They also said that workers were regularly using hand tools to burst air bubbles that were forming in the tire rubber, instead of throwing the tires out as required.
From 2000 to 2005, Cooper’s tires led to more than 200 deaths. Cooper has had to recall dozens of types of its tires and still faces lawsuits from consumers who have been hurt in car accidents caused by the shoddy tires.
Other Legal Issues with Tire Blowouts
If you are driving a vehicle and are hit by another vehicle that has a tire blowout, you could file a personal injury lawsuit against the driver of the vehicle who hit you. That would be the case if it is determined that the driver of the vehicle was negligent in the upkeep of his tires. To establish driver negligence, three things must be proven in court:
- The driver owed you a legal duty of care.
- The driver breached that duty of care.
- Because of the breach, you were injured and suffered damages.
As noted above, it is possible that the tire manufacturer or distributor of the tires could be held liable in a product liability lawsuit. To prove such a case, your attorney may need to prove:
- Tires were defectively constructed or designed.
- Manufacturer or distributor failed to warn users of the risks of using the tires.
Tire blowouts cannot always be prevented. There could be owner-related aspects that contribute to some blowouts, such as poor tire maintenance. But when tire companies spend the money on safer design, better manufacturing, and high-quality control, they can greatly cut the chances of a tire blowout. If you have been injured by a tire blowout or lost a loved one in a tire blowout accident, talk to one of our tire blowout, product liability attorneys. We can help you determine if any tire or automotive entity may be held liable in civil court.
- Who’s Liable for a Tire Blowout Accident? (2017). Retrieved from https://blogs.findlaw.com/injured/2017/03/whos-liable-for-a-tire-blowout-injury-accident.html