How Do I Know If a Defective Tire Caused My Crash?

How Do I Know If a Defective Tire Caused My Crash?

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How Do I Know If a Defective Tire Caused My Crash?

Over the past 26 years Lance Cooper has developed a particular expertise in tire defect cases. He handled his first tire defect case back in 1992 and has been passionate about this safety issue ever since. Defective tire cases are different because there is a lot that goes into the design and manufacture of a tire.

When a crash happens and there has been a tire blow out or tire tread separation, it is important that The Cooper Firm be involved early in the investigation. We need to enlist the expertise of engineers to not only inspect the damaged tire, but also inspect the car, the surrounding road scene, and everything that happened in that particular crash. From there, we can determine if a tire defect contributed to that crash. Oftentimes tire failure claims result in very bad crashes where people are catastrophically injured or perhaps have died. It’s important early on to involve The Cooper Firm for investigating potential tire defect claims.

If you or someone you know has been injured in a crash and you believe a defective tire may have been the cause, please contact us as soon as possible.

Tire Wise: Tire Safety

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Tires - The Cooper Firm

Tire Wise: Tire Safety

Tire maintenance is crucial to safety in vehicles considering that everything rides on it. Ensuring tires are safe can prevent tire failure. Tire blowouts and failure can result in severe car crashes.

Here are a few tips in order to extend the life of your tires and to keep you safe on the road.

-Tire Aging. Factors such a heat, use, storage and climate conditions can deteriorate tires at accelerated rates. Although you cannot tell just by looking if your tires are old, there is a date on the side that tells when the tire was manufactured.  A good rule of thumb is you should replace your tires every six years, but other factors can play into the age so always be aware of wear and tear.

-Tire Maintenance. You should check tire pressure and tread monthly. This will not only help with ensuring safety, but will also help with fuel consumption. Have your tires rotated, balanced, and aligned whenever you take your vehicle in for an oil change. An easy way to check tire tread is to put a penny in the tread with Lincoln’s head upside down. If you can see the top of Lincoln’s head, it is time to change your tire.

-Replacing Tires. By regularly maintaining your tires and keeping track of their age, you will have a good idea of when it is time to replace them. When that time comes, it is important to make sure that the new tires are right for you vehicle and the environment in which you drive. Always have the tire company bring out the tires before they put them on so you can check the manufacturing date. Tire companies will call tires ‘new’ if they haven’t been used, but they could have been sitting and baking in a warehouse for months or years. This can be very dangerous. For example, consider a rubber band. If exposed to warm temperatures, the rubber band will start to crack. This same thing can happen to tires, including spares.

-Registration and Recalls. Registering your tires is crucial for tire safety. Manufacturers rely on this information to alert you when there is a recall on your tires. You can also sign up with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to get notices when there are recalls for tires.

It is so important to take proper care of your tires. If you or someone you know has been injured as a result of a defective tire or product, contact our offices today for a free consultation.

Source: NHTSA

Goodyear Runs Flat: Company Sanctioned For Hiding Tire Testing

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Tires - The Cooper Firm

Goodyear Runs Flat: Company Sanctioned For Hiding Tire Testing

Discovery in litigation is the process through which people injured by a defective product can get information and documents from the product manufacturer. You can ask the company questions and request documents and things from the company files. This discovery process is the life’s blood of the case. With it, done rightly, you get the facts and the data and the tests.  Without it, and done wrongly, you get nothing and you lose your case.

The discovery process, governed by published rules and ethical principles, relies fully on the parties to respond fully and honestly and to act in good faith. There is supposed to be a “little voice” in each attorney’s head telling him to “turn over all material information.” Sadly, and by design, not all companies and their attorneys listen to that inner voice. They “sell out to client” and hide documents. They delay. They conceal. They use word games to avoid producing highly relevant documents.   It’s a common gamble, because if they are not caught, and many are not, then they are almost certain to win the case and protect the company and the product.

But, sometimes, diligent plaintiffs and good judges catch the company and its attorneys playing games, albeit deadly serious games, in the litigation process. We have seen it many times over the years in our cases. It happened most recently in Haeger v. Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co., a case in which a tire failure caused serious injuries to the Haegers. After seven years of battling Goodyear for documents tests that common sense said existed, and after being told none did, the Haegers settled their case for a fraction of what they might have had they gotten all the tests. Later, the Haegers learned from other tire litigation that the tire tests they asked for, but never got, did in fact exist—but the company and its attorneys had concealed them.

Even though their case was over, the Haegers acted. They and their lawyer filed a motion for sanctions, alleging that Goodyear and its attorneys had knowingly concealed internal tests related specifically to the Goodyear tire that failed and hurt the Haegers. Those concealed tests showed flaws in the tire design. Goodyear defended, arguing that it had never violated any court orders to produce the tests it had said did not exist, and that the trial court did not have the power to sanction it post-settlement for previous discovery abuse.

During the ensuing fight over whether Goodyear had committed fraud on the court and engaged in discovery abuse, Goodyear accidentally produced tests it had repeatedly said did not exist. Because of that and what it learned in a 6-hour evidentiary hearing, the trial judge was not impressed. The judge further found out that Goodyear’s corporate representative had failed to mention the tests when asked repeatedly about them. The trial judge held that Goodyear had committed fraud on the court by not producing the tests.  It found that Goodyear and its attorneys had acted in bad faith and had engaged “in repeated and deliberate attempts to frustrate the resolution of the case on the merits.” Relying on its “inherent power,” the court then sanctioned Goodyear, fining it and its lawyers over $2.7 million dollars in attorney’s fees and costs.

Goodyear and its lawyers appealed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. In a 49-page Opinion, the Ninth Circuit upheld all the sanctions. You can read the entire Opinion at http://cdn.ca9.uscourts.gov/datastore/opinions/2015/07/20/12-17718.pdf.

Lawyers and litigants have a duty to use good faith and candor in responding to discovery. They have a duty to listen to that inner voice and turn over all the responsive documents. That’s the only way facts come out. That’s the only way the truth comes out. And that’s the only way justice is done in court.

Tire Industry Association and Safety Advocate Groups Team Up to Support Tire Recall and Recovery Reform

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Tire Industry Association and Safety Advocate Groups Team Up to Support Tire Recall and Recovery Reform

Safety advocates and the Tire Industry Association agree that technology which would allow electronic scanning of tires is the only way to reform tire recall procedures to guarantee full recovery of defective tires.

The Tire Industry Association (TIA), The Safety Institute and Families for Safer Recalls requested that Congress and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration support recall and recovery reform that requires uniform electronic scan-ability of tires. The current system has failed for a long time, with an estimated less than 20 percent of recalled tires actually being recovered, according to The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). Currently, Tire Identification Numbers (TIN), which are codes used to identify recalled tires, are manually transmitted to manufacturers by consumers or tire service professionals. During a recall, neither party has tools that can quickly and accurately decipher whether tires are a part of a recall.

Even though the NTSB is currently in the process of making recommendations for improvements based on crashes from failure of recalled defective tires, legislators are moving forward with a bill supported by the Rubber Manufacturers Association that would only make slight adjustments to the currently dated system. July 15, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation passed a combined transportation funding and safety bill that includes re-establishing mandatory tire registration by dealers. The bill also includes provision for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to include a TIN-based recall look-up on its website. The changes place the burden on the tire dealers, leaving the tire manufacturers with little to no responsibility.

The current registration process for tires is very labor-intensive, and requires the hand translation of the TIN from the side of a tire to a mail-in registration card or electronically by computer. While adding a TIN-based recall look-up is a positive step forward, dealers are not equipped to take on the full load of translating each TIN, nor will it help solve the problem of defective tires not being recovered.

Safety advocate groups and the TIA are suggesting that RFID chips in tires or laser-etched QR codes would be a cost effective and up-to-date way to keep track of recalled tires as well as notify owners. Even if ownership changes or tires were purchased used, tire identification could still notify parties of whether the tire was recalled or not.  Tire Dealers are not opposed to tire registration, but the new legislation places the entire burden on them with no realistic methods for doing the job right. Not only could small tire dealers go out of business, but the larger dealers would be hurt by having to send their customer list to manufacturers.

Woman dies after tire blows out on I-75

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Woman dies after tire blows out on I-75

This past weekend, a woman was killed after the tire on her Honda Accord blew out. Acworth resident, Richeany Meas was driving on I-75 southbound when her front tire blew out. Her car stopped in the second lane. A Jeep Wrangler struck the Honda from behind and both vehicles ended up against the left median wall. The Jeep flipped over during the process and landed on its roof.

While going to check on the child in the back seat of the Honda, Meas collapsed and was taken to Wellstar Kennestone Hospital. She was there pronounced dead from injuries sustained from the crash. The passenger and child in the Honda were both treated at Wellstar Kennestone Hospital and were later released.

The driver of the Jeep, 39-year-old Thomas Allan Jordan, was taken to Wellstar Kennestone Hospital and is in serious but stable condition. There are no charges expected for the accident according to the Marietta Police spokesman David Auld.

Source: Marietta Daily Journal

Photo Courtesy of GDOT

Would you consider renting your tires?

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rent tiresRenting Tires

It’s no joke that buying tires can be expensive, but would you consider renting them to save you the $400-500 you would have to fork out now if you needed them?

Companies such as Rent N Roll, which is a rent-to-own tire store in Florida, are popping up in a great deal of locations. These companies attract people who don’t have the cash to spend on four new tires immediately but can make small payments of about $30. In some cases, the renters end up paying almost twice as much for the tires as they would have buying them straight out.

Part of the reason so many people are driven to renting tires recently is because in 2009, the U.S. imposed a tariff on Chinese tire companies in a trade fight. This drove up the price of Chinese tires and competitors who were no longer competing with the low prices of the Chinese imports. Even though the tariff was removed last October, tire prices have already risen 40 percent. Many people are also victims of unemployment or stagnant wages with the economic issues there have been. A great deal of people don’t have the money to put aside for automobile upkeep.

Is this necessarily a bad thing? Even though people are losing loads of money to these renting companies, it does save them from buying used tires or defective tires. We just have to hope that the tires that these companies are renting them are actually brand new tires.

Do you think renting tires is a bad idea? Share with us your thoughts.

Source: NPR, “Why More People Are Renting Tires,” Zoe Chace, June 14, 2013.

Tire Blamed for Fatal Georgia Car Accident

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 There are times when a driver has no choice in avoiding or preparing for an upcoming accident situation. For a Georgia mother and her teenage daughter, a bizarre car accident left them incredibly vulnerable on the highway with presumably no way to avoid being hit. The accident took the 47-year-old mom’s life.

The accident occurred as the woman was driving down the highway during rush hour, reportedly to take her teenage daughter to school. A tire from another vehicle came off and was launched into the air. The tire reportedly hit the car right at the windshield and roof area, killing the mom at the scene. The tire allegedly flew over several lanes before hitting the vehicle.

There is an investigation as to why the tire flew off of the vehicle it was attached to. There is no word yet as to whether or not the driver of the vehicle whose tire flew off would possibly face charges in relation to the car accident. Several lanes of the highway had to be closed while authorities tried to determine what exactly occurred.

While there is no word yet of charges against the driver whose tire caused the car accident, if there is negligence proven as to why the tire fell off when it did, the driver could possibly be held responsible for damages. The family of the deceased woman may be able to seek damages in a Georgia civil court. Monetary damages could help the family manage unexpected costs, such as funeral costs or lost wages.

Source: fireengineering.com, “DEADLY ACCIDENT; Driver killed by flying tire ‘had nowhere to go’,” Alexis Stevens, April 27, 2013

Liberty Tire Helps Prove Why You Should Stay Away From Used Tires

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Last year, Kumho Tires recalled over 40,000 SOLUS KH25 passenger tires due to sidewall cracking. Although the majority of the tires were in the warehouses, 122 had been sold to customers and over 1,000 were in dealers inventories. This April, Kuhmo had to take back almost 12,000 SOLUS KH25 because the company they had paid to scrap the tires, Liberty Tire Recycling, ended up reselling them to used tire dealers.

Ironically, on Liberty’s website they state that they have turned more than 110 million scrap tires annually into “raw materials for smart, sustainable products that improve people’s lives.” What Liberty Tire was actually doing, was taking the hole filled and cracked sided tires, patching them and then re-selling them.

522191.1-lg.jpgThough safety researchers are unsure how Kumho learned of Liberty’s actions, they did find that 2,310 had been sold to consumers. More than 9,600 tires had not been sent back to the market.

Used tires are dangerous in that they could have been exposed to improper maintenance, storage, and could have been damaged. All of these factors can lead to tire failure. Currently, there is still no way to determine if a tire is subject to a recall.

For more information on used tires you can visit the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration or The Safety Research and Strategies, Inc..

Michelin North America Recalls Tires

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Michelin North America Inc. is recalling about 841,000 BFGoodrich Commercial T/A A/S and Uniroyal Laredo HD/H commercial light truck tires in the U.S., Canada and Mexico due to tread separation concerns.

A large portion of the tires were mainly sold in the U.S. These tires are commonly used on commercial light trucks and full-sized heavy-duty vans.

Each model has two tire sizes that have been affected. The recalled tires were manufactured at the firm’s Fort Wayne, Ind., plant starting in 2010. The customer return rate for all four sizes for tread and/or air loss was 0.17 percent before the recall.

The tread separation issue was discovered by Michelin through its quality system, but they still have not identified any overriding cause for the tread separations.

Redesigned tires are now being made and have been proven to have a significant improvement in safety and performance. The recalled tires will be replaced free of charge through customers’ BFGoodrich or Uniroyal dealer.

The company has placed an announcement on its website, and they will be mailing notices to tire owners no later than the week of August 6.

No deaths or injuries have been reported due to the tire issue.


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