A tire defect can cause a serious car accident with little to no warning. These accidents then lead to a complicated legal situation because, to the untrained eye, it may seem as if the crash was caused by the driver whose tire blew out. Insurance companies may insist that this was the case in order to minimize what they pay to cover the crash, hoping that the victims of the accident do not ask questions.
The personal injury lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian are the trained eyes who understand that tire blowouts are often the result of defectively made tires and can help victims recover compensation from the party who was ultimately responsible for the crash through a products liability lawsuit.
Tire Defects Cause Accidents
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), tire issues cause more than 11,000 crashes every year. Those crashes hurt an estimated 19,000 people and take the lives of more than 700 others, annually.
While poor maintenance is responsible for a lot of these accidents, many of the crashes are caused by production defects or faulty designs. Even those that are the result of poor maintenance, however, may not be the fault of the person driving the vehicle.
The Many Types of Tire Defects
Not all blown tires are the same, even if they look identical at the instant they fail. Some of the most common tire defects include:
- Bead failures,
- Zipper failures, also known as a sidewall blowout, and
- Ply separation or de-treading.
The tire bead is the innermost rim of the rubber tire. It is connected to the rim of the wheel and held in place by tire pressure. If it moves or falls out of place, the rubber tire can fall out of alignment with the wheel or actually come off the wheel entirely. In either case, the driver will likely lose control of the car.
Zipper Failures or Sidewall Blowouts
A blowout of the tire's sidewall – also known as a zipper failure, for how the slit in the side of the tire looks, afterwards – most commonly happens while the tire is being inflated. Just because the defect is most often found while the car is not being driven, though, does not mean that a zipper failure is not dangerous. Whoever is inflating the tire at the time of the accident can get seriously hurt or even killed, while bystanders are at risk, as well.
Ply Separation or a De-treaded Tire
Ply, or tread, separation is likely the most common type of tire defect. In these cases, the tread on the outside of the tire – the grooved rubber that actually comes in contact with the roadway – breaks away from the underlying fabric and metal cords that run around the tire, underneath the treads. Technically, these defects are not “blowouts” because the tire will still have all the air inside.
Poor Designs Can Cause Defective Tires
One way for a tire to be defective is it was so poorly designed that it was almost guaranteed to fail on the road at some point. Defectively designed tires can put everyone on the road at risk – both the people in the car that has the defective tire, as well as the people around that vehicle who will have to react to avoid the sudden danger.
When the tire was negligently designed or was supposed to come out in a way that either put the average consumer in a hidden and unacceptable danger or that carried a risk that far outweighed the costs of mitigating that risk, the company that designed the tire can be held liable for the crash.
While defectively designed tires are rare, when they do happen, the prognosis is far more serious. By the time the defect has shown itself, there will likely be thousands of tires that have been made using the defective design. Each of those defective tires carries the risk of causing an accident.
Manufacturing Problems Can Lead to Defects
A manufacturing defect happens when a safe tire design gets sent to the factory, but some of the tires that get produced do not match the design. The noncompliant tires may use materials that are not as strong or flexible as the design had called for, or somehow fail to meet the design's specifications.
Manufacturing defects are far more common than design defects. However, when manufacturing defects happen, the result is only a few defective tires on the road, rather than an entire line or model. Just because not all of the tires are prone to failing, though, does not make them safe or even reasonably acceptable. If the failure rate is high enough, it can lead to a recall.
Poor Maintenance or Improper Installation Can Lead to Liability
In some cases, a blown tire can be the result of a negligent mechanic who failed to adequately maintain the tire or who installed it incorrectly. This can happen if a mechanic failed to notice sure signs of tire wear or replaced a tire with one that was clearly defective. It can also happen when a mechanic improperly installed a tire by, for example:
- Using the wrong size tire
- Choosing improper tread for the season
- Not aligning the tires correctly
- Not adequately tightening the wheel
- Over- or under-inflating the tire
Auto Defect Attorneys at Gilman & Bedigian Serve Accident Victims in Philadelphia
The personal injury lawyers at Gilman & Bedigian strive to represent car accident victims in Philadelphia who have been hurt because of a car defect. While these crashes can happen in a wide variety of ways, they all have one thing in common: They were not the fault of the driver. Instead, a mechanical failure or a shoddy design was the true culprit.
Proving that this was the case, however, is not always easy. That is where Gilman & Bedigian can help. Contact them online if you or a loved one has been hurt in a crash and suspect that a tire defect was the cause of it.