Impact – Real or Phantom Cause of Tire Failures?
Tire tread separations are a concern for drivers in South Florida because this phenomenon most typically occurs in hot weather climates. Tread separations occur when the tread and the top steel belt detach, and pull away from the underlying steel belt and the remainder of the carcass of the tire, leaving a tire stripped of the tread.
As Miami tire lawyers pursuing claims against tire manufacturers for product defects associated with manufacturing and design, we have brought claims against almost every major tire manufacturer in the world. Many of these claims have related to tire defects specifically associated with tread separation events. The desire to avoid these events is compelling because tread separations commonly result in loss of control of the vehicle and rollover accidents.
Many times in these cases tire manufacturers have countered our allegations of tire defect with the theory that the tire, at some previous time in its life, experienced some sort of impact which may have caused damage to the integrity of the internal components of the tire.
In taking the sworn statements of many tire experts hired by tire companies we repeatedly find that these experts are incapable of answering the simplest questions about their asserted theory that impact may have caused damage to the tire which resulted in the tread separation. These experts are uniformly unable to answer the following questions: What is the object that caused the impact? What is the size of the object? At what speed was the object struck?
Furthermore, if it is a rear tire that separated we are always curious why the front tire did not also suffer some damage by an object that common sense indicates must have also been run over by the front tire. When we ask these experts if common roadway objects such as a curb, rock or two by four piece of wood could have been the object that was impacted and caused the tread separation; we are told that it is possible that such commonplace objects could in fact create an impact resulting in a catastrophic tire failure.
It is amusing and ironic to see repeated advertisements for tires showing vehicles riding on rocky and mountainous trails, lifting off the roadway, and going airborne and bouncing over boulders and other objects. These advertisements are designed to show the rugged and durable nature of tires being sold. Yet when someone suffers a significant injury as a result of a rollover caused by a tire failure attorneys representing injured individuals in tire defect cases are confronted with the theory that impact, as apposed to some manufacturing or design defect, caused the tire to break apart. In controlled studies tire experts and engineers have been unable to recreate a tire tread separation caused by impact damage. This further heightens the suspicion about the asserted defense that impact damage causes tread separations.
At Halpern, Santos & Pinkert, P.A., we have deposed a host of tire experts put forth by the defendant to assert various theories that would insulate tire manufacturers when tires break apart suddenly and unexpectedly and cause catastrophes on the roadway. In fact, we have collected a library of depositions of the various defense tire experts and have found many places where their testimony is inconsistent with prior testimony they have given. When hiring an attorney to pursue a tire defect case or any product liability case it is important for the attorney to research the testimony of adverse experts and know that testimony inside and out.