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Tire Litigation


Tire litigation is a type of vehicular product liability law. Tire manufacturers are professionals when it comes to lawsuits because they get sued all the time for wrongful death, traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, and other injuries resulting from car wrecks.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there are over 8000 traffic crashes a year involving death or serious injuries from tire failures. Many of these tire failures are attributed to manufacturing defects, design defects, or failure to warn of dangers inherent in products.

Usually a consumer is not protected against tire failures because when a person buys even a new car, the manufacturer does not give many warranties for tire performance, and any warranty given may come with exceptions for causes such as nails on the ground or other hazards that make it difficult for an injured party to determine if the failure existed at the time the tire left the manufacturer or from normal wear and tear.

Each tire failure case demands a detailed review of the facts relating to the car wreck, the appearance of the tire, and the severity of the injuries. The injured party may require expert testimony on tire technology.

The first step in a tire lawsuit is to identify the tire manufacturer. There may be a brand name on the tire, but this does not necessarily mean that the company was the manufacturer. Some manufacturers make private brand tires for major retailers or wholesalers like Sears.

Look at the Department of Transportation number to figure out the manufacturer, place of manufacture, and date of manufacture. The number is usually on the axle side of the tire, and cannot be read while the tire is on the wheel. The first few digits or letters following the DOT are the manufacturer’s identification code. Depending on the year of the tire, there may be 2-4 digits.

The family of a dead passenger or driver may need to file a wrongful death lawsuit to recover for tire failure in road operation. The failure may result from tread separation or sidewall failure (blowout). In tread separation, the tread and the outermost steel belt separate from the lower steel belt and the rest of the tire carcass. This exposes the inner liner, belts, and cords. Sidewall blowouts generally are caused by under-inflation of the tire during contact between the sidewall and a sharp object.

When death or serious injuries occur because of tire failure, look to an experienced Hawaii personal injury attorney to recover in a wrongful death claim against the responsible parties.