Injuries or even death may result from a tire that is defective. Shapiro Law Team, based in Scottsdale, understands that the role that Arizona plays in causing tire tread belt separations. Through our extensive tire litigation experience, attorney David Shapiro has learned how tire manufacturers will sometimes try to cut corners during design, or use old raw materials during the manufacturing process, or not properly inspect tires before putting them on the market.
If you were injured in a tire tread belt separation, blow-out, or tire explosion, contact us. We will bring in tire experts who can examine the tire and determine if there is a flaw in the design, labeling, or manufacturing of the tire. Drawing upon our extensive personal injury and motor vehicle accident experience including tire defect cases, we can then file a claim for damages resulting in injuries or death. We plan for trial each time, knowing that proper representation begins with a well-prepared case.
One of the most important components in a motor vehicle is its tires. A tire is the only part of the car that contacts the ground. Your tires allow your car to move forward, turn, reverse, and stop. Without all four tires, your car will not move. Because tires are so important to your car, it follows that your tires must be safe and reliable. Faulty tires often lead to serious motor vehicle accidents. In many instances, faulty tires lead to tread detachments or tread belt separations on a highway at high speeds. These unforeseeable tread belt separations are usually loud, sudden, frightening, and often cause the vehicle to leave the road, rollover, veer in one direction, or flip. As you can imagine, the consequences of a tread belt separation can be catastrophic – regardless if the occupants of the vehicle are belted.
Victims of a tire tread belt separation can suffer a variety of serious injuries including spinal cord injury resulting in paraplegia or quadriplegia, brain injuries such as a subarachnoid hemorrhage, orthopedic fractures such as a broken hip, pelvis, femur or tibial plateau fracture, a crushed foot, or even death. If you were injured in a motor vehicle or car accident involving a tire blow-out or tread belt separation, contact Shapiro Law Team in Scottsdale, Arizona.
Accidents resulting from tire separation in the Arizona heat include tire blowouts and tread belt separation. Tread separation is a type of tire failure where the tire tread and belt layers tear off from the carcass of the tire.
Tread belt separations that occur at highway speeds often lead to serious accidents including vehicle instability or rollover, particularly on the highway or if they involve semi-trucks. This is because, at such high speeds, drivers are usually unable to control the unforeseen, unpredictable, and dangerous conditions created by a tread separation. Sadly, many victims who are involved in these kinds of tire defect cases may not even know that their tires were defective and are usually blamed by the tire companies or manufacturers for the accident. Tire defect cases are complex cases because of the massive amount of engineering that accompanies a tire’s design, manufacture, and performance. The lawyer must have a complete understanding of how tires are designed, manufactured, inspected, and sold. Because tires are manufactured with many different components, a lawyer investigating and litigating a tire defect case must understand how these various components are stored, manufactured, and designed in order to be successful.
Tire defect litigation holds tire companies responsible for their faulty tires – tires that fail prematurely even with plenty of tread remaining. Over the years, we have seen what happens when tire companies cut corners and design shoddy tires. In the 1990s, defective tires manufactured by Bridgestone/Firestone were linked to as many as 271 fatalities and over 800 injuries in the United States. Many of these tires suffered tread belt separations due to high temperatures. Even worse, it turned out that during the investigation of Bridgestone/Firestone’s tires, through consumer warranty claims, Bridgestone/Firestone itself became directly aware of its tire failures yet never took any affirmative safety measures to warn consumers about their dangerous tires.
The causes of these defective Firestone tires ranged from poor tire design that led to increased operating temperature of the tire to substandard manufacturing facilities, the use of shoddy manufacturing materials and components, and substandard tire inspection practices where tire workers were not given adequate time to safely inspect the manufactured tires. It was determined that many of these causes were attributed to the tire manufacturer’s concern about profits rather than making a safe product.
Though the Firestone crisis killed and maimed hundreds of victims across the United States, it, fortunately, brought awareness to an industry that – until 2000 when Congress passed the TREAD Act (Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation Act) – had very inadequate safety regulations. The crisis also sheds light on the tire manufacturer’s need to design and manufacture safe tires to prevent catastrophic, premature tire failures.
Sadly, tire manufacturers still design, manufacture, and sell defective tires. Long after the passage of the TREAD act and the Ford-Firestone, crashes involving tires still happen by the thousands. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, at least 11,000 crashes in the United States are linked to tire failure issues.
But even though these tire accidents continue to occur, consumers need to understand the challenges in winning a tire case. First, the consumer must prove that the tire company was at fault for the manufacture or sale of a defective and unreasonably dangerous tire. To prove that the tire was defective and unreasonably dangerous, the consumer must show that it was defective and unreasonably dangerous at the time it left the manufacturer’s control and that the defect was “a cause of” the consumer’s injury.
Manufacturers understand what it takes to make a tire, but sometimes it is not worth changing a design for what they deem as an acceptable flaw. This is a small consolation to the injured and their families. Consumers have the right to expect products to perform safely as promised. We believe that is always in the best interests of the community that companies who design defective tires should be held accountable for their actions.
A tire’s tread and steel belts should not separate or detach if the tire still has adequate tread remaining. Tire manufacturers of steel-belted radial pneumatic tires know that the belt edge is where the belt separations start and face durability problems. Just like during the Firestone crisis, tire companies continue to design, make, and sell tires with poor and unsafe designs. There are many common types of design defects found in failed tires including the lack of a nylon overlay or nylon cap ply, poor belt-to-belt step-off, or an inadequately designed inner liner that allows air to permeate into the body of the tire leading to premature oxidative degradation of the internal components of the tire.
The Nylon cap ply is a critical tire component and mechanism designed to prevent belt edge separation. Here is a diagram of how the nylon cap ply is fitted around the carcass of the tire:
Nylon cap plies have been around for over forty (40) years. The nylon cap ply prevents belt-edge separations by: 1) reducing corrosion of the steel wires, 2) maximizing constriction of the steel belts, and 3) substantially reducing the centrifugal forces/stress at the belt edges of a tire – which cause the tread and steel belts to separate from the tire – by compressing the belt package during periods of high centrifugal force which occurs when a vehicle is traveling at highway speed.
However, in the highly competitive tire market where each penny makes a difference, many tire companies refuse to design tires with nylon cap plies. They choose profit over safety – despite the extensive tire company documents, testimony, and patents that clearly prove that nylon cap plies are safety mechanisms that are designed to ensure good adhesion between the rubber and steel. In fact, in the Uniroyal Nylon Cap Ply Patent, Uniroyal refers to nylon cap plies as “safety belts.” (United States Patent, 4,724,881 dated February 16, 1988).
Without a nylon cap ply or a properly designed inner liner and belt step-off, a tire may be considered defectively designed and can lead to serious tire failure resulting in accidents including vehicle instability or rollover, particularly on the highway.
Manufacturing defects are related to mistakes made during manufacturing, lack of quality control in the tire building and inspection process, or the use of shoddy, old, or improper tire component materials that lead to the manufacture of a defective tire.
Like other product manufacturers, tire manufacturers must manufacture their tires in a clean, temperature-controlled environment, within their specifications and have safe, reliable ways to inspect their tires before they are shipped off for distribution. Oftentimes, tire manufacturers – facing increased cost pressures – will cut corners to increase their production as well as their profit margin. Sometimes, tire manufacturers will allow contaminants such as water, oil, grease, or other ill-intended products to make their way into the tire’s components including the tire’s steel belts. If this occurs, and the tire is cured with these contaminants, it is likely that the tire’s steel belts will not properly adhere and can result in an unsafe and defectively manufactured tire.
In addition, the tire manufacturer sometimes uses old, dated rubber components that prevent the tire from bonding properly and maintaining its intended durability. This defect can manifest itself in the form of liner pattern marks, which confirm that the tire’s rubber components were stored too long in their liner rolls before being used to manufacture the tire. Liner pattern marks, which can prevent the tire’s components from safely bonding during the vulcanization process, can be identified by an experienced forensic tire expert.
Additionally, tires are defectively manufactured with trapped air blisters or impressions in the steel belts that prevent proper bonding of the rubber components. Trapped air blisters or impressions can be major catalysts in a tread separation event because they cause premature degradation of the tire’s components.
Finally, a common manufacturing defect found in failed tires is poor belt positioning and alignment. Steel-belted radial tires rely on the precise installation of the steel-belt wires to maintain their integrity. Conversely, if the tire builders do not place the steel cords properly, the tire likely will be weaker, will allow more stress to accumulate into the tire, may likely overheat, and can lead to a premature tread belt separation. Most of these belt positioning and alignment defects cannot be seen or detected by the naked eye and can only be seen under an x-ray.
Thus, since the consumer cannot see the defect, it is incumbent on the manufacturer’s quality control and inspection personnel to catch the defect before the tire is shipped for sale. Unfortunately, because of cost, many manufacturers do not x-ray every tire. Instead, only a select few are sampled for an x-ray, allowing many defectively manufactured tires to leave the facility with an array of belt defects such as dog-eared belt splices, gapped belt splices, improperly spaced steel belts, overlapping placement of the belts – all of which can prevent the tire from maintaining its durability and increasing the risk of a tread belt separation.
One of the major misconceptions in the public is that if a tire has adequate tread (that is above 4/32nd of an inch), that the tire is still safe for use. This is not true. Rather, following the Firestone crisis, NHTSA investigated the various causes of tread belt separations and concluded that the older the tire, the more likely it is to fail:
Unfortunately, because of profit motives, liability, supply-chain concerns, and concern over branding, many tire manufacturers do not warn their consumers that old tires are likely to suffer failures than new tires. This is in stark contrast to the automotive manufacturers who have issued warnings to the consumer about tire aging more recently:
If your tires were unsafely designed, manufactured, or are old and degraded or were improperly installed and mounted on your car, you and anyone in your car may have a potential tire defect case against the manufacturer of the tire and/or the retailer that sold you the defective tire.
It is important to note that tire defect cases pose unique challenges. It is not as simple as simply determining that because the tire failed and there was an injury, that there is a case. Rather, the victim of the tire-related accident must prove that the tire was defective and proximately caused the accident and the resulting injuries.
Like other product liability cases, tire defect cases are costly to pursue. They require the retention of a multitude of industry expert witnesses ranging from tire failure experts and engineers with experience in the design, manufacture, testing, and inspection of tires, accident reconstructionist experts with automotive engineering backgrounds, biomechanical engineers, and medical experts. In addition, tire cases sometimes require the purchasing of automotive products to conduct non-destructive testing and/or simulation and almost always necessitate costly storage fees to safeguard the defective tire, the companion tires, the vehicle itself, and any other pieces of evidence relevant to the accident.
Additionally, once a tire defect case is initiated, the tire manufacturer will not admit responsibility. Instead, the manufacturer will claim that the tire was misused, abused, overloaded, underinflated, or suffered some sort of impact damage. The manufacturer will also likely contend that the driver inappropriately responded to the tire failure such as by oversteering the vehicle once the tread detachment occurred. The manufacturer may also argue that the accident sequence did not cause the occupant’s injuries and that perhaps the vehicle or use or non-use of the safety restraint caused such injuries.
Contact our office to discuss your case with a lawyer as soon as possible after the accident while the details are still fresh and physical evidence still exists. We can be reached through the Contact page of this website or by calling (480) 300-5405. Initial consultations are free and we charge no fees until we win your case.
So, if you were catastrophically injured and suffered a spinal cord or brain injury, or you lost a loved one due to an accident involving treat belt separation or tire failure, you should contact our office right away. At Shapiro Law Team, we will quickly get our team including lawyer David Shapiro himself immediately to the accident scene, collect and/or document valuable pieces of evidence including the subject tire, the companion tires, the vehicle, the pieces of tread remaining on the roadway and a host of other physical evidence.
In addition, at Shapiro Law Team, we have the expertise in representing victims of catastrophic tire failure accidents. We have a tremendous network of tire, automotive, and medical experts who can offer the jury with credible, honest, and reliable testimony about the nature of the tire’s defects, how it contributed to the accident, and the medical injuries that you may have suffered because of this accident. In cases involving spinal cord or brain injury, it may be necessary to hire medical experts who can formulate a life care plan to predict your future health care needs and costs. With a life care plan, an economist can also be hired to explain to the jury the present-day value of the economic losses you suffered. The economist’s testimony would also include the past and future wage losses you may have incurred as a result of your disabling injury.
If you’ve been injured in an accident, don’t hesitate to talk to our Scottsdale car accident lawyer.
Again, we urge you not to wait to start your potential tire defect case. Call Shapiro Law Team, in Scottsdale, Arizona, at (480) 300-5405 or online before it’s too late. Our office will consult with you 24/7. And we guarantee no fees until we win your case.