The National Transportation Safety Board estimates that car accidents involving defective tires cause 400 to 500 deaths every year. The agency also blames defective tires for causing an average of 33,000 accidents per year.

In 2012 about 800,000 Uniroyal Laredo and BF Goodrich tires were recalled. Recalls happen among most tire manufacturers with some regularity; however, there is no nationwide system for alerting consumers of defective tire recalls. To receive recall notices, vehicle owners must register their tires with the tire manufacturer. Registering your tires still doesn’t guarantee that your vehicle isn’t equipped with defective tires, or tires that are susceptible to catastrophic failure. Unfortunately, many families have discovered this the hard way.

Common Causes of Tire Failure

Depending on the amount of usage and road conditions, tires can lose their tread and separate as soon as six years from purchase. Tire tread separations are common for steel-belted radial tires because of the difficulty of adhering steel to rubber and can be blamed on the tire design as well as on the manufacturing process. These defects can come to light under many circumstances, including these:

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  • Under-inflation of the tires.
  • Overloading the vehicle’s gross weight maximum for the tires.
  • Contact with an object such as a pothole, curb, or accidents caused by large debris.
  • Extreme hot or cold temperatures.
  • The inner liner is punctured.
  • Loss of tire elasticity.
  • Improper tire repairs including
    • Patches with no plugs.
    • Plugs with no patches.
    • Wrong location of patch or plug.

The Catastrophic Consequences of Defective Tires

Tire separations can be deadly. When the tire belt separates, it often causes a “blowout” which can make it impossible to control the vehicle. This can cause any of the following events and result in catastrophic injuries and death:

  • The vehicle may uncontrollably cross lanes and collide with other vehicles in either or both directions of traffic.
  • In trying to correct the vehicle’s movement, the vehicle may rollover.
  • The vehicle may collide with highway barriers at a high rate of speed.
  • The vehicle may leave the roadway and travel uncontrollably over a cliff, bridge, or down a hillside.

In addition to injuries or death sustained by the driver of the vehicle with the defective tires, there may be other victims as well: the vehicle’s passengers, drivers and passengers of other vehicles, and pedestrians.

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Can the manufacturer be held accountable for their defective tires?

Yes. Tire manufacturers are aware of ways to substantially reduce the risk of producing defective product. Methods include:

  • Proper curing of the tread belts.
  • Using quality rubber stock.
  • Developing quality control practices to substantially reduce or eliminate contamination of tire materials.
  • Thorough final inspections.

An experienced Washington DC car accident lawyer understands not only the dangers of defective tires, but what to look for in determining the cause of the tire failure. Litigation of personal injury cases following accidents caused by defective tires is not uncommon. In addition to the tire manufacturer, other parties may be held accountable. The plaintiff’s attorney may seek compensation from

  • The tire manufacturer
  • The tire distributor
  • Providers of the raw materials used in the manufacture of the tire

Every accident case is unique, which is why you’re best served by discussing the details of your accident with a qualified attorney experienced with car accident litigation

cohenThanks to our friends and contributors at Cohen & Cohen, P.C. for their additional insight into the hazards of defective tires.