Our Tire Defect Practice
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that 11,000 vehicle accidents take place every year because of tire defects.
If you or someone you love suffered catastrophic injuries or died as a result of defective tires, consult the skilled attorneys at Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP. We have extensive experience representing clients who sustained massive injuries in accidents caused by defective tires. Call us at (310) 576-1200 or email us today for a free consultation.
We Have Won Millions in Tire Defect Cases
Our successful cases include:
- Frankl v. Goodyear Tire and Rubber Co., confidential settlement – Tires unraveled, leading to an accident that killed a U.S. Air Force captain and others in his car. The Goodyear LRE tires involved had a history of malfunctioning, especially when used on large SUVs and other high-occupancy vehicles.
- Logan v. Ford and Firestone, confidential settlement – Tread separated on a Firestone tire, causing an accident. The tires were later recalled.
- De La Torre v. Cooper Tire Company, confidential settlement – Tire tread separation caused an accident with fatalities.
- Mathews v. Goodyear, confidential settlement – Tread separated on a Goodyear tire, causing a rollover accident. The driver suffered a spinal cord injury. Information from the case led to a defect investigation by NHTSA and a recall.
When you need the services of experienced tire defect litigators, contact Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP’s knowledgeable attorneys. To learn more about defective tires and how we hold tire makers accountable for their negligence, read through some of the questions that people most frequently ask us about tires.
What parts of a tire are most likely to have defects?
First, let’s look at the different parts of a tire and how tires work. Tires consist of:
- Body ply. The main body of the tire consists of layers of plies, often made of a polyester cord and laid perpendicular to the tread. Plies should give the tire its strength.
- Tread. The tire’s tread comes in contact with the road, and usually incorporates a grooved pattern that should help water escape from the tire surface. Special layers of tread called sipes should improve traction in challenging road conditions.
- Belt. Tire belts are layers between the tread and the plies, often made of thin steel or another hard material and coated with rubber. Belts should position the plies, help to keep treads flat for better road contact, and prevent punctures from immediately destroying the tire.
- Sidewall. The side portion of the tire should protect the inner plies and is marked with details about the tire manufacturer and size.
- Shoulder. The outer edge of the tire tread should wrap into the sidewall.
- Bead. The tire bead is a reinforced loop, usually rubber-coated steel, that should keep the tire in position on the car’s rim.
- Innerliner. The most interior layer of a tire that should seal out air.
While design defects can occur anywhere on the tire, many defects occur when parts of a tire are not properly bonded, causing them to separate while in use. The most common reason for a tire recall is when the tread separates from the belt, often caused when the plies beneath start separating. If the tread separates from the rest of the tire, the result is usually a blowout. This can lead to vehicle damage or an accident that can produce severe, permanent injuries, even at low speeds.
Another vulnerable point on a tire is the bead. The bead is responsible for holding the tire to the rim, and if it fails, the tire will deflate quickly or even come off the rim. This may result in the vehicle driver losing control of the vehicle.
What is tire tread separation?
Making the rubber tread adhere to the steel belt is one of the most interesting parts of tire design, and tire manufacturers use various chemical processes to stick the two materials to each other. Unfortunately, sometimes these chemical bonds don’t last, and the tire and belt separate. When the tire is in use, this could mean that the tread loosens and peels off, causing tire tread separation.
Unlike a blowout, where the tire has a puncture or other weakness and explodes, a tread separation typically results in tire pieces wrapping around the wheel, which causes the axle to vibrate and affects the driver’s ability to steer. This may dramatically reduce the driver’s ability to control the vehicle. It can lead to oversteering, where the vehicle slides sideways into other traffic or moves into a spinout. That’s why tire tread separation accidents are often more serious than those where the tire blows out and the pieces move away from the wheel—in these situations, the driver is more likely to regain control and move to the side of the road.
Are older tires more dangerous?
You may not know how long tires that look new were in storage before someone installed them on your vehicle. Even when they were never used, the older rubber on tires may begin to deteriorate due to age.
Older tires are more likely to fail when you need them most. The Porsche that Fast & Furious star Paul Walker was riding in during a 2013 crash had nine-year-old tires, a fact that investigators attributed to the accident that claimed his life and that of race car veteran Roger Rodas. The California Highway Patrol report noted that “the driveability and handling characteristics” of the Porsche “may have been compromised” by the tires. Many less-publicized accidents have occurred with older tires cited as a contributing cause.
Age will exacerbate any manufacturing defects or problems with adhesion of materials. The longer a tire sits, the more likely a problem could occur. You’re also more likely to drive on older tires if you only drive your vehicle occasionally, need to use your spare tire, or purchase used tires.
Can defective tire valve stems lead to accidents?
Defective valve stems can cause underinflated tires, leading to accidents. The stems crack and leak small amounts of air, eventually making it more difficult to control the affected vehicle. In addition, valve stem defects can cause a complete tire failure or blowout if they crack enough to break off.
How did Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP, help get defective Goodyear Load Range E tires off the road?
Tire manufacturer Goodyear sold a type of tire, called a Load Range E (LRE), that was originally designed for use on passenger vans. This tire was also sometimes used on larger SUVs. Unfortunately, the Goodyear LRE was identified as causing accidents due to tread separation.
During Mathews v. Goodyear, a case in which Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP, successfully represented the plaintiff, documents obtained during discovery revealed the history of the tires malfunctioning and their role in causing other serious accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration used the information unearthed during discovery to pressure the manufacturer into issuing a voluntary recall. NHTSA found that the tires may have contributed to as many as 18 deaths and 158 injuries on U.S. roads before the recall was issued. Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP, is proud to have played a role in getting this dangerous tire off the roads and replaced with safer alternatives.
How can you learn about tire defects or recalls?
Tire manufacturers don’t always make it easy to learn about recalls of their products. The U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association maintains a website at RecallInfo.USTires.org where you can search for recalled tires using the tire identification number stamped on the sidewall of each tire.
NHTSA also maintains an online database of recalls at nhtsa.gov/recalls. You can report problems you’ve experienced with your tires to NHTSA, which keeps records and looks for patterns to identify manufacturing defects and design issues.
Contact your tire manufacturer or check their website for the opportunity to register your ownership of their tires. In the event of a recall, the manufacturer should contact you directly, usually by mail, with more information.
What damages are recoverable in a tire defect case?
Each product defect case is unique, and there’s no single answer to how much compensation you may qualify for by taking legal action. Settlements or judgments depend on how serious your injuries are, among other factors.
Contact Our California Tire Defect Attorneys Today
If we take your case, we will handle your tire defect case on contingency. That means that the attorney who takes on your case is compensated only if you recover damages. You often won’t need to pay any money to your law firm up front.
At Greene Broillet & Wheeler, LLP, we’ve seen what a devastating vehicle accident can do to those involved, including their families. We understand the legal and financial needs you have as you go through a challenging court case, especially one that concerns a defective product. We work with clients who have experienced catastrophic accidents due to the poor design or manufacture of vehicle tires, and have taken on cases not only in our state of California, but around the United States. We also consult, when appropriate, with other law firms about tire defect cases.
If you need help after a tire defect injured you, please call our office at (310) 576-1200 or contact us online for a free consultation.