Los Angeles Defective Tires Lawyer
The cause of an accident may be unfortunate but quite simple like either carelessness of the other driver or bad weather, etc. However, in some instances the cause of an auto accident may not be as simple. What if the accident in which you or your loved one was involved, was caused by a tire blow out? Then, the case involves something, which is legally called a products liability lawsuit.
The consequences of these blow outs can be life threatening to you and your family, especially if a vehicle is traveling at a high speed or if a vehicle is top-heavy. A tire blowout can cause the driver to lose control of the car resulting in rollover accidents, collisions or worse. Tire blow-outs may be caused by the following defects in:
- Tire manufacturing – There may be manufacturing defects in how the tire was essentially put together.
- Tire design – There may be design defects in how the tire was designed/engineered.
Potential Causes of Tire Defects
- Tread separation (de-beading/ de-treading) – Due to the difficulty in obtaining adhesion of steel to rubber there is a potential for tread separation of all steel-belted radial tires. This is true especially at high speeds in hot weather. Recent examples of this have included the Firestone ATX and Wilderness tires on Ford Explorers, Continental General tires on Lincoln Navigators, the Firestone Steeltex tires on Ford Excursions, and the Goodyear Load Range E tires on 15-passenger vans.
- Adhesion failures – A number of factors can cause the adhesion between the belt and rubber to fail. Weak or improper compounds, contamination during manufacturing, and other problems can cause the initiation of cracks between the belts and treads. Most often, these will begin to form at the belt edge. Progressive fatiguing, crack growth and tearing failure can progress into the skim stock. These cracks propagate during the use of the tire. Heat or friction within the tire may hasten this process. Ultimately, this can result in separation and the potential for catastrophic failure of the tire.
- Tire Aging – For many years, the life of a tire has been defined by its use and condition such as tread depth and sidewall condition. It is now clear that deterioration within the tire can occur over time which increases the likelihood of catastrophic failure. Heat and oxygen are both enemies to tires. They work to degrade the internal adhesion of tire components. Environmental conditions such as exposure to sunlight or salt air also may adversely affect tires as they age. Tread separation once again is a typical failure mode of an aged tire.
Importance of Retaining a Field Expert in Tire Defect Cases
Litigation against tire manufacturers is complex. Many auto accidents and rollovers caused by tire blow outs may be due to a design defect or a manufacturing defect in the tire. It takes time and the assistance of experts in accident reconstruction, forensics, or biomechanical analysis to identify if a defect in a tire contributed to the accident. However, it is overly important to retain any applicable experts in the beginning, so the vehicle involved can be examined right away. This is why the most important evidence in an auto or tire defect case is the vehicle that was in the accident. Without it, an automotive defect case is difficult if not impossible to establish.
Finger Pointing in Tire Defect Cases
It is important to have an experienced attorney on your side because it is quite often in a product liability case, big businesses will engage in “finger-pointing” practices, where one blames the other for making a design and/or manufacturing flaw in a product. For instance, in 2001 Ford ended its long-standing relationship with Firestone by publicly blaming Firestone for manufacturing defective tires. In fact, Ford stated it had lost faith in the safety of Firestone’s Wilderness AT brand tires designed specifically for Ford vehicles. On the other hand, Firestone responded by claiming Ford was trying to divert attention away from the flaws in the Ford Explorer and that Firestone would no longer sell tries to Ford due to a loss of “mutual trust and respect.” To this day, these two companies continue to fight each other in Court due to a slew of individual and class action product liability lawsuits against them.
In addition, to compensatory damages, which may include but are not limited to, property damage, the cost of past and future medical treatment, loss of earnings, loss of earning capacity, pain and suffering, emotional distress, etc., you or your loved may be also entitled to punitive damages, if involved in an auto accident as a result of a tire blow out. The purpose of punitive damages is a public one – to publish wrongdoing and deter future misconduct by either the defendant or other potential wrongdoers. (Stevens v. Owens-Corning Fiberglass Corp. – 1996; Adams v. Murakami – 1991). In order to sustain an award for punitive damages, proof of malice does not require an actual intent to harm. Conscious disregard for safety of another may be sufficient where the defendant is aware of the probable dangerous consequences of his or her conduct, and he or she willfully fails to avoid those consequences. (Taylor v. Superior Court – 1978). Therefore, there is a much higher chance for an injured party to win a punitive damage award with an experienced attorney by his/her side who has at her disposal a number of experts who will prove in court that the responsible party for the defective tire acted in conscious disregard for safety of others despite knowing of the probability of dangerous consequences but willfully failed to avoid them.
One of the ways to show that to the court in a product liability, specifically defective tire case, is that mmanufacturing defects can be substantially reduced by appropriate adhesion, proper manufacturing practices, and adequate quality control measures. Some plant practices which contribute to tread belt separation include improper curing, the use of over aged “dry” rubber stock, use of petroleum solvent on tire components prior to vulcanization, moisture or foreign matter cured into the tire, improper repairs, inadequate final inspection and an emphasis on production or quantity over quality and safety. Many plants run on twelve-hour shifts with the tire builders working on a quota incentive system which unduly stresses workers. Therefore, in such case, it would be much more possible, to obtain a punitive damage award than in a pure negligence auto accident case.
Importance of Retaining an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney
If you or your loved one was involved in an auto accident involving a tire a blow out, it is important to talk to an experienced attorney right away. Attorneys Inna Demin and Dmitry Gorin are knowledgeable in products liability area of tort law. It is imperative to evaluate the cause of the car accident, even if the cause may not be readily apparent in the beginning. Also, it is vital that an expert in the area is consulted right away, who will help in pin-pointing the cause of a tire blow-out. We offer a free case evaluation and you pay no fee unless we win your case.
Injury Justice Law Firm LLP, Los Angeles Injury Lawyer