Without tires, your car would be useless for transport. The tires of a vehicle are essential in providing balance, traction, braking, and direction. They also help in absorbing shock as your driver. Proper design, manufacture, and regular maintenance are some of the factors that influence the effectiveness of car tires.
Driving with defective tires intentionally or unintentionally is a recipe for disaster. An accident can occur, leaving you and other people injured. If you are the victim of a defective tire accident, we advise you to contact the San Diego Personal Injury Law Firm.
We have extensive experience in establishing fault in such accidents and bringing justice to the victim and their family. We help you identify the cause of the accident and the role tire defects played in the accident.
Overview of Defective Tires
Tires are crucial to the safety of a vehicle. They support the car, ensuring that its weight is evenly distributed on all tires. This support makes it possible to steer the vehicle and maintain control over it.
Due to the critical role of tires, manufacturers must design them in a manner that enhances safety without compromising efficiency. They must use materials that provide strength, stability, and durability to the tire. In addition, they must test their products before releasing them into the market.
Manufacturers are not the only ones responsible for ensuring tires do not have defects. The car owner, the tire seller, or distributor and the car repair shops must also play their roles in ensuring the tires are at their optimum.
Drivers must check their tires regularly to identify possible defects that may affect the car. With such vigilance, drivers can catch early warning signs of a tire defect. These warning signs include:
- Cracks and cuts on the sidewall
- Unevenness in treadwear
- Excessively worn tread
- Bulges and blisters on the sidewall
- Excessive vibration as you drive
A defective tire is a serious hazard, especially when driving at high speeds. It can lead the driver to lose control of his or her vehicle, causing an accident.
Tire defects arise due to several factors, including:
- Negligence of the car owner in maintaining the tire
- Negligence of the car repair shop or mechanic
- Design flaws
- A tire shop that sold a defective tire
The common tire defects include:
Underinflated or Overinflated Tires
The right balance of tire pressure is key to a successful ride. Driving with an underinflated tire increases the risk of accidents. Your vehicle's fuel consumption also increases with an underinflated tire.
When the tire has less pressure, a larger surface area of the tire is in contact with the road. This increases friction, overheating, blowouts, tread separation, and premature wear.
On the other end of the spectrum, overinflating your tires is equally dangerous. An overinflated tire is more likely to cause a blowout. A blowout compromises the safety of your car. You may lose control of the vehicle, thus placing yourself and other road users in danger.
Excessive pressure makes your tires inflexible, thus exposing the tire to more damage, especially from adverse road conditions such as potholes. Most of the damage affects the middle layer of the tire, thus increasing the chances of developing tread separation.
One of the reasons some drivers overinflate is to increase their mileage. However, this increase comes at the cost of your safety and that of other road users. When driving at high speed and on an overinflated tire, you risk losing control of the vehicle.
Before you drive, you must always ascertain that your tires have the right pressure. Proper inflation increases the efficiency of your car’s fuel consumption. You are also in much better control of the vehicle and less likely to cause an accident.
Tread separation is a dangerous condition in which the tire tread separates from the body of the tire. Tread separation occurs due to several reasons, including:
- Manufacturing defects - Errors in any of the tire manufacture processes often lead to tread separation. The separation typically begins after you start using the tire.
- Tire abuse - As the car owner or driver, you must take care of the vehicle’s tires. Abuse due to neglect, overinflating, or careless driving will strain the tire, causing tread separation.
- Incorrect repair of punctures
- Excessive wear of the tires - You should change the tires once you reach the recommended mileage
You can correct or prevent the risks associated with tread separation by examining your tires frequently. You can also identify the warning signs that the tire has a tread problem. These warning signs include:
- A slight vibration while driving
- A blister or bump on the tread (these blisters continue to grow until the whole tread separates)
- Uneven wear on the tread
- Cracks on the sidewall
Tires are designed with a maximum load that they can support. Overloading your car puts extra strain on the vehicle’s tires. Overloading has the following effects that increase the risks of a road accident:
- It causes instability and poor control of the vehicle
- The tires are likely to overheat and blowout
- The acceleration and braking of the car is affected
Tire Bead Failure
A tire bead rests on the grooves of the wheel. The tire bead holds the wheel to the rim, thus keeps the wheel intact when driving. Tire beads rely on air pressure to remain in position and function correctly.
However, the tire bead may fail due to several reasons, including:
- A manufacturing defect
- A design defect
- A poorly mounted tire
Bead failure is a leading cause of tire explosion and tread separation. These conditions can cause the driver to lose control of the vehicle or experience a rollover accident.
Tire Retread Failure
Tires, especially on trucks and semi-trucks, can be expensive to replace. Therefore, most people in the trucking industry often choose to retread to prolong the life of their tires.
Retreading has gained both support and criticisms from different groups. In itself, retreading does not increase the risk of an accident occurring, particularly if the procedure is done correctly.
The person retreading the tire must use the right techniques to ensure that the efficiency of the tire is as good as a new one.
However, if the technique used in retreading has errors, then the risk of tire failure increases. Retreading a tire more than once also increases the risks of tire failure.
Other common tire defects include:
- Tires that do not show tread wear
- Improperly mounted tires
- Using the wrong size of tires on the car
- Mechanical problems
Types of Defective Tire Accidents
More than 200 people die every year from defective tire accidents. The severity of these accidents depends on the defect as well as surrounding conditions. The response of the driver and his or her driving experience also contributes to the severity of the accident.
Most drivers can maintain control of their vehicle when a tire punctures. However, a blowout or explosion can cause the car to lose control, leaving a trail of damage.
The present road conditions also influence the nature of the accident. For example, road hazards such as potholes make it easier for tires to malfunction and cause an accident.
Defective tires are responsible for several types of accidents, including:
Hydroplaning accidents happen when the tire cannot sufficiently displace the water under the tire. When your car hydroplanes, it loses grip on the road surface, increasing the risk of a dangerous accident.
The treads of a tire are designed with grooves that are deep enough to displace water away from the tire. If your tire lacks sufficient tread depth, then the chances of an accident increases.
Factors such as overloading and under inflating the car can also contribute to a hydroplaning accident. This is because an underinflated tire has less friction with the road. Coupled with an overloaded car, the tread of the tire has less room to disperse the water, thus increasing the risks of hydroplaning.
Tire defects that cause a tire to spin out of control are responsible for several rollover accidents.
Tire Blowout Accidents
These types of accidents occur when the tire suddenly loses its air pressure (blows out). A blow out immediately causes the driver to lose control of the vehicle or have difficulties controlling it. A driver might also try to control the vehicle by braking too hard, thus increasing the risk of a rear-end accident. Tire blowout accidents usually occur due to potholes and other poor road conditions, underinflated tires, overloading cars, punctures on the tire, or a manufacturing defect.
Investigating the Cause of a Car Accident
Conducting an investigation is the first step in determining the cause of an accident. Several factors can contribute to an accident. Tire defects are one of the substantial causes of the accident.
While most accidents are likely to cause damage to the tires of your car, you can, through forensic investigation, identify whether the tires contributed to the accident.
The first step involves getting sufficient visual information to determine what the tire looked like before and after the accident.
The next step will be to identify the type of tire. Different tire types come with various applications and construction. They also wear in different ways. Therefore, the knowledge of the kind of tire your car was using will provide the investigator with information about the common failures associated with the tire type.
The investigator will also identify the type of the tire, its dimensions, the week, and year of manufacture, the type of construction, the speed rating, and the load index of the tire.
With the information, the investigator can determine whether you were using the tire according to the specifications. In addition, he or she can decide whether or not you were using the right size of the tire and whether it was installed correctly.
Next, the investigator will establish the condition of the tire. The sidewalls of a tire are a great place to start since the damage, and its location will provide crucial details about the state of the tire before the accident.
Sometimes, the investigator will require expert testimony to clear up difficulties in establishing the role of the tire in the accident. An expert has the technical information you will need in your case so that you can establish liability for the accident.
You can help with the investigation by providing the investigator with all the details you remember about the accident if you can collect any debris from the tire to assist in the investigation.
The remains of the tire can help the investigators establish the exact cause of the tire defect and accident.
Liability for Defective Tire Accidents
If you are injured in a defective tire accident, you can sue the negligent party. Establishing liability for defective tires depends on the cause of the defect.
Some of the parties you can sue for defective tires include:
- The manufacturer of the tires
- The tire distributor
- The tire seller
- The driver of the vehicle
- The owner of the vehicle
- The mechanic
- The tire repair shop
You can file a lawsuit based on California’s negligence laws or product liability laws. Under negligence laws, the negligent party is liable for any injuries that arise from the negligent act.
You can determine that a party was negligent if:
- He or she owed a duty of care
- He or she breached the duty of care
- The breach of the duty of care was a substantial factor that contributed to your injuries
For example, you can file a personal injury lawsuit against a driver who knowingly drives with a defective tire.
If you file a product liability lawsuit, you do not have to prove that the liable party was negligent. You can submit a product liability lawsuit for:
- Manufacturing defects
- Design defects
- Inadequate warning defects
As mentioned earlier, manufacturing defects on tires occur due to errors in the manufacturing process. These errors make the tire unsafe for use. When filing a lawsuit for manufacturing defects, you need to compare similar products from the manufacturer to determine whether they match.
Also, you need to prove that:
- The liable party manufactured, distributed or sold the tire
- The tire had a manufacturing defect
- You suffered injury
- The defects contributed substantially to the injury
You can also file a lawsuit if the tire has a design defect. Design defects are different from manufacturing defects. A design defect on a tire is one that either:
- The tire fails to perform safely as the consumer would expect
- The risk the design defect poses outweighs the benefits
You will also need to prove the following element:
- The liable party manufactured, distributed or sold the tire
- The performance of the tire posed safety risks that an ordinary consumer would not have expected even when using the tire in an intended way
- You suffered an injury
- The defect was a substantial factor in the injury
You can also sue the manufacturer, distributor, or tire seller for failing to give adequate warnings and safety instructions for using the tires. Before you can recover damages from the defendant, you have to prove that:
- The liable party manufactured, distributed or sold the tire
- The tire had a defect which the defendant knew of or should have known
- An ordinary consumer would not have recognized the defect
- The defendant failed to provide adequate warnings to the consumers about the tire defect
- You suffered harm due to the defect
Damages You Can Recover
Once you establish the liable party in a defective tire accident, you need to file a claim so that you can recover the accrued damages.
You can recover the full value of the damages or a part of it, depending on the defenses the defendant uses. For example, in a product liability lawsuit, the manufacturer could raise concerns about tire maintenance or even the presence of defects in the tire.
In such a case, the court will apply the laws of comparative fault to determine the contribution of the defendant and the plaintiff in the accident.
Regardless, you can recover damages such as:
- Wrongful death damages if you lose your loved one due to the accident. These damages will compensate you for any medical expenses, burial and funeral costs, pain and suffering, and lost wages the deceased could have earned
- Medical damages to compensate you for the out-of-pocket expenses you incur for treatment, medication, therapy, and rehabilitation. You must provide proof for these expenses by presenting the receipts from your doctor. Depending on the severity of the injuries, you could also recover the costs of future medical expenses
- Lost wages to compensate you for any benefits, wages, salaries, overtime, or bonuses you lost while recovering from your injuries
- Lost earning capacity to compensate you for the losses you will incur in the future due to the injuries. These damages compensate you for the reduced income you earn as a direct result of the injuries
- Pain and suffering to compensate you for the emotional pain, mental anguish, loss of consortium or parental love and guidance due to the accident
In some rare cases, the court will award punitive damages, especially if the defendant acted in a grossly negligent manner. Punitive damages are not part of compensatory damages. They serve as a punishment to the defendant, who must also pay from his or her pocket.
What to do After a Defective Tire Accident
A defective tire accident can catch you by surprise, especially if you were not aware of the defect. If you are involved in such an accident, you can take several measures to ensure that you and other road users are safe.
The first step is to wait for the police or medical emergency services to arrive. The police will record the accident and collect any evidence at the scene. Waiting for the police can also prevent additional charges for hit and run accidents.
However, you can leave the scene of the accident to protect yourself and other road users. In such a case, move to a safe distance from the road and warn oncoming drivers about the danger.
Record any relevant information, including the details of the accident, the condition of the tire, and the type of the accident. This information is crucial in supporting your claim
Get medical care as soon as possible. In the excitement of the accident, you might not think you are injured. The adrenaline produced masks your injuries until a later date when you have calmed down. However, delayed medical care can lead the defendant to claim that the injuries are not a result of the accident. Therefore, ensure that a doctor checks you immediately after the accident.
Another reason you need to be checked is that some injuries do not show signs until they get worse. This is especially true with internal injuries.
When you get to the doctor, explain that you were involved in an accident. Your doctor can then proceed to evaluate you for the common injuries that arise from a road accident.
Inform your insurance company about the accident. Your insurance company requires you to inform them about any accident you are involved in, whether or not you are at fault. Once your insurance company learns about the accident, it can investigate to establish whether it has liability in covering any damages you suffered.
Contact a personal injury attorney to help you with the case. Your attorney will provide valuable legal advice and representation.
Find a Defective Tire Accident Attorney Near Me
A defective tire accident can upset many activities in your life. In addition to the damage to your car tire, you could suffer injuries and, in some cases, lose your loved one. These injuries can affect your financial standing.
At the San Diego Personal Injury Law Firm, we help you recover compensation for any injuries you sustain. We focus on helping you identify the liable party in the accident as well as the possible causes of the accident.
We also help you identify and get witness testimony to support your claim. Contact us at 619-478-4059 if you need assistance with your case.