Anyone who has been in a car accident knows how shocking the experience can be. In a matter of seconds, the entire world changes. If the driver and passengers are injured, physical pain can suddenly become a constant part of life. But what's worse is learning that your insurance isn't enough to cover the medical bills and that work may no longer be an option. Then, victims suffer financially as well as physically.
Car Accidents Change Lives
There is a way to come back. Every year, thousands of injury victims file car accident lawsuits, pursuing financial compensation from the parties responsible for their crash.
In some cases, accident survivors and loved ones are even able to file suit against a tire manufacturer, arguing in court that the tire was defective in manufacture or design. Injury victims and families who can prove that a defective tire led to their accident may be able to secure valuable financial damages.
What Is Tread Separation?
The most common form of tire defect accident is known as tread separation. More than any other tire defect, tread separation leads to hundreds of severe injuries and fatalities every year.
Every tire has tread on it, which is the part of the tire that comes into direct contact with the road. This tread is what grips the road while the car is traveling. On the inside, the tread is connected to fabric cords and wires, which are in turn attached to steel. Since rubber doesn’t adhere well to steel, the other materials are necessary.
Separation occurs when the tread peels off of the other materials. This is more likely to happen while traveling at high speeds and during hot weather. When this happens, the tire can no longer support the necessary load and the driver may lose the ability to steer the vehicle entirely. All of this can occur in a matter of seconds.
What Causes Tread Separation?
There are several reasons why tread separation may happen. Some risk factors for tread separation come down to consumer error. Tread separation is more likely to occur, for example, in tires that have been over- or under-inflated. Wear and tear also increase the risk of separation.
In other cases, however, tread separation is the result of a manufacturer's defect. The defect may occur in three ways:
- the tire has a flaw in the design
- there was an undetected problem during the manufacturing process resulting in poor bonding of the tread to the rest of the materials
- the manufacturer failed to adequately warn of the tire's risks
Usually, it doesn’t take long for the defect to result in separation and many of our clients have reported feeling abnormal vibration just prior to their accident.
Can I Sue A Tire Manufacturer?
Yes. If a defect in a product causes injuries to a consumer, victims have the right to pursue legal action against the party responsible. Manufacturers have a responsibility to keep their customers safe and to create a product that will work the way that it is advertised to. If they fail to do so, they risk being named the defendant in a lawsuit.
Goodyear Faces Tread Separation Lawsuits
Currently, a large litigation has emerged against Goodyear. In nearly 50 different lawsuits, families from across the nation accuse the leading tire manufacturer of producing and selling defective tires. According to ABC News, the plaintiffs claim that "the rubber tread on the tires peeled away from the steel belts beneath and that this 'tread separation' caused crashes, injuries, and in some cases, death."
The tires, which plaintiffs say are defective, come from Goodyear's Load Range "E" series of tires, manufactured between 1991 and 2000. Millions of the tires, experts believe, remain on the road, in large part because Goodyear has not yet issued a recall. At least 87 crashes have been linked to failures of the Goodyear tire, leading to 158 injuries and 18 deaths, according to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report on the subject. The Load Range E tires are mainly used on large sport utility vehicles, pickup trucks and commercial vans.
During the course of litigation, plaintiffs have discovered troubling evidence that Goodyear expressed concern over the tire's safety back in the mid-90s, when high-level officials at the company opened an internal investigation in the face of rising accident rates. Goodyear says publicly that its internal investigation found no evidence of a product defect.
How Much Is A Tire Defect Lawsuit Worth?
When a jury awards a plaintiff with compensation or a settlement is negotiated, they base the amount of damages awarded off of the losses sustained by the plaintiff. Losses that are taken into consideration may include:
- Lost earnings
- Medical expenses
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional trauma
Since each client has sustained different losses, the amount obtained will be different in each case. Prior to a case's commencement, there is no accurate way to predict the amount of compensation that will be secured.
What Can I Do If My Loved One Died In The Accident?
The loved ones of a victim who died in an accident caused by tire separation may be able to file a lawsuit. This type of lawsuit is called a wrongful death lawsuit. Wrongful death claims are similar in form to the complaint that would have been filed by the victim, if they had survived.
Generally, the parents, spouses, and children of the deceased are the people who are eligible to file this complaint, although other family members who were dependent on the victim may also be able to pursue a lawsuit.
How Can I Prove A Defect Caused The Accident?
While the police may provide a police report which can indicate that an issue with a tire resulted in the accident, this may not be enough to prove a case. Due to significant vehicle damage, many police reports contain insufficient findings. That’s why it’s incredibly important to contact an attorney as quickly as possible after an accident.
An attorney will investigate the accident and collect evidence, including the tire, to be examined by engineers and other specialists who will be able to determine how and why the tread separated. This evidence will be crucial to the lawsuit and the longer a client waits to contact an attorney, the harder it may be to obtain the necessary evidence.
If My Tires Were Recalled Do I Have A Case?
Yes, even if a recall was issued, it may still be possible to file a lawsuit. A recall simply indicates that the company has admitted they are aware of an issue with their product which may cause harm to consumers. It does not absolve them of any liability. In most cases, a product recall can only strengthen a plaintiff's case, since the defendant has publicly acknowledged that some problem with the tire has been identified.
I Was Offered A Settlement - Should I Take It?
Plaintiffs should never accept a settlement offer without first consulting their legal team. That being said, after discussing the offer with their attorney, the decision is completely up to the client and they must do what they think is best. There are benefits to accepting an offer to settle, however, not every offer is worth accepting.