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Tire Blowouts & Product Liability

August 16, 2013 Posted By Vanguard Attorneys

A tire blowout is a specific type of tire failure in which a rapid loss of inflation pressure causes a tire to explode or burst. A blowout can cause a section of a tire to sever entirely or a chunk of the tire may literally “blow out”, leaving a visible hole in the side-wall. Tire tread can also separate, either due to impact, such as striking a pothole or curb, or from defects in the tire’s physical construction. According to tirerack.com:

“Most blowouts are caused by too little air pressure allowing the tire to flex beyond its elastic limits until it overheats to the point where the rubber loses its bond to the internal fabric and steel cord reinforcement.”

A tire blowout results in a rapid or immediate loss of tire function, leaving the moving vehicle riding only on its rim. Steering and braking capabilities are adversely impacted and the abrupt loss of control can produce a skid or rollover crash, particularly if a blowout occurs at highway speeds. Accidents are more likely to occur when a truck or SUV have a tire blowout due to their high centers of gravity.

Defective Tire Lawsuits in the US

Tire manufacturers can be held liable if injuries result from a blowout. A product defect is often the cause if tread separation occurs but is not caused by an outside object or improper inflation,

One of the nation’s largest, high-profile tire blowout liability suits involved tire-maker Bridgestone/Firestone and its massive tire recall from August of 2000. In the years leading up to and following the recall, hundreds of consumer lawsuits were filed in conjunction with the accidents caused by defective tire blowouts. Three Firestone models, accounting for nearly 6.5 million units, were commonly equipped on new SUVs like the Ford Explorer. Defects in the tire’s construction caused tread separation at highway speeds, resulting in dangerous blowouts. Large personal injury lawsuits followed after 271 deaths and several hundred injuries resulted from rollovers and crashes linked to the defective tire blowouts.

Another manufacturer, Pirelli Tire, LLC, issued a voluntary tire recall on certain motorcycle tires made between June and September 2008. Pirelli claimed that the tires were stamped with incorrect load range and inflation pressure specifications. Improper loading and inflation commonly leads to blowouts, as discussed previously. Although no accidents were reported, Pirelli could have been held liable if any riders experienced blowouts as a result of improper inflation guidelines.

7 Steps to follow if you Experience a Tire Blowout

If a driver experiences a blowout, a loud bang and “whoosh” will be followed by a flapping sound, consistent with vehicle speed. The vehicle may tilt slightly and will pull in the direction of the blown tire. Below are some tips to follow if you experience a tire blowout:

  1. Stay calm and do not react suddenly or abruptly.
  2. Do not brake and do not lift off of the accelerator.
  3. Maintain or apply light, constant accelerator pressure to stabilize the vehicle.
  4. Offset the vehicle’s pull by gently counter-steering – just enough to keep the vehicle in its lane.
  5. As soon as the vehicle feels stabilized and is tracking in a straight line, turn on the hazard lights, ease of the accelerator, and then brake very gently.
  6. Gradually pull over to the side of the road. If possible, keep all four wheels on the pavement.
  7. If it is necessary to leave the paved surface for safety reasons, drive onto the grass/dirt after you are able to bring the vehicle’s speed down to 5mph or less.

References:

Tire Rack (.com) – http://www.tirerack.com/tires/tiretech/techpage.jsp?techid=13

Who Can I Sue (.com) – http://tire-blow-out.whocanisue.com/

Wikipedia – Blowout – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blowout_(tire)

Categories: Product Liabiity
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