1 The Nitto Grappler is a brand of tire distributed by Nitto Tire North America, Inc., and manufactured by or in conjunction with its Japanese parent corporation. Nitto is also associated with Toyo tire. The Nitto Grappler comes in a variety of sizes including oversized tires that are intended to be used on pick up truck and other four wheel drive vehicles that have lifted suspensions. It is important to recognize the dangers associated with using large Nitto Grappler tires or other oversized tires on your vehicle. Lifting the suspension can seriously degrade the stability of your vehicle. Moreover, small defects or other imperfections in a tire such as the Nitto Grappler can be greatly exaggerated because of the large circumference of these tires. An out of round Nitto Grappler being used on a highway can result in a dangerous condition known as vehicle skate or skating, where the tire and wheel hop on the roadway in a manner similar to the behavior of a vehicle on a wash-board gravel road. This can result in loss of vehicle control without warning. Use your over-sized Nitto Grappler or similar tires with caution. Passenger tires come in many different sizes and types of construction. Many do not realize that passenger tires are actually used in many light truck applications especially SUVs. For example, the Ford Explorer is equipped with passenger tires, not SUV tires. Many other popular SUVs also use passenger tires. The reason for this is that the passenger tires tend to have a more forgiving ride than light truck tires. Light truck tires are built with stiffer sidewalls and are generally more robust than passenger tires. As a result, light truck tires carry more load but they are also harsher to the occupants over bumps and generally noisier. You should always follow the vehicle manufacturer s recommendations for tire type. In choosing passenger tires for your vehicle you should not focus solely on cost. Many cheaper tires are not just lower performing in terms of stopping or cornering performance, but are also more likely to be built with cheap components and materials that make the tires prone to fall apart unexpectedly on the highway. Passenger tires should always wear out before they fall part. If your passenger tires have failed catastrophically and caused serious injury or death, you should consult a professional. Smith & Fuller, P.A., is a national law practice that focuses on automotive product failures including passenger tires. Rollover accidents are among the most dangerous but also the most easily preventable of all types of injury-causing accidents on our nation s highways. Rollover accidents are most commonly seen when a sport utility vehicle (SUV) such as a Ford Explorer engages in a foreseeable avoidance maneuver or
2 encounters a tire failure at freeway speeds. The automotive industry has spent millions of dollars lobbying the federal government not to impose higher safety standards relative to rollover accidents, even though the technology to save lives is cheap and available. One simple thing that automobile manufacturers can do to prevent rollover accidents is to build their SUVs with a slightly wider track width and a lower center of gravity. Contrary to popular belief, this can be done without affecting the utility of the vehicles at all. For example, the Ford Explorer could have been built with an identical ground clearance and other desirable characteristics but a much lower center of gravity by choosing a different type of available suspension system which would have allowed the engine to be positioned lower in the vehicle, and by widening the track just a couple of inches. These changes would have added a tiny bit of increased price but a huge improvement in rollover resistance. But even putting aside the unrealized potential of avoiding most rollover accidents in the first instance, rollover accidents are also much more deadly today than they need to be. Rollover accidents often kill or paralyze their victims because vehicle manufacturers make cost cutting decisions like using cheap roof materials that make the roof intrude easily into the occupant compartment, smashing skulls or breaking necks when rollover accidents occur. Or manufacturers use outdated seatbelt technology that is prone to unbuckle during a rollover accident, causing ejections. Rollover accidents that cause death or serious injury can and should be investigated for possible legal action against the vehicle manufacturer. Smith & Fuller, P.A., is a national firm that can help. Only concerted effort by consumers will send a message to vehicle manufacturers that they should stop worrying so much about their bonuses and worry instead about stopping the needless tragedies that occur on the roadways every day. A tire designed for the recreational vehicle market is called an RV tire. A properly designed RV tire is in many respects indistinguishable from the tires commonly employed on large busses or semi-trucks. They certainly have similar uses especially in the large Class A RV tire market. Unfortunately, though, some tires sold as being suitable for use as an RV tire really are not safe for such use. Specifically, the Goodyear G159 tire was sold for years as an RV tire, but it should not be used in this capacity and existing tires should be removed from that application. The G159 RV tire in the size 275/70R22.5 is unsafe for use in the RV market because it was really designed for low speed applications. When used for extended periods on the highway which of course is common in the RV tire market G159 Goodyear tires get very hot. Heat is the enemy of tires and over time can break down the internal components until the tire suddenly and catastrophically falls apart while being operated on the highway. The typical failure occurs two or three years after the tire is installed, when there are still tens
3 of thousands of apparent tread miles left in the G159 RV tire. A tread separation on an RV tire can pose an extreme hazard to consumers and is often associated with loss of vehicle control and serious injury or fatalities. RV tires or recreational vehicle tires must be designed to withstand the normal and foreseeable uses of the RV market. Many RV tires are indistinguishable from the tires commonly employed on large busses or semitrucks, because they need to carry similar loads and they need to stand up to similar extended highway use on a heavily loaded vehicle. Over the last several years, a particular type of Goodyear RV tires, the Goodyear G159, have resulted in literally hundreds of incidents of serious injury and property damage due to the failure of the tires by a mechanism known as tread/belt separation. This is the same failure that led to the huge recall by Firestone of its tires on Ford Explorers a few years ago. It turns out that the G159 RV tires, at least the tire in the size 275/70R22.5, were not really designed to be RV tires at all. They were originally designed for use in short-range and lower speed applications such as UPS delivery trucks. But Goodyear sold them to the RV market anyway, even though it became clear years ago that continued and extended use of the tires on the highway made them run overly hot due to their particular tread design. The heat buildup made the tires likely to fail catastrophically even with normal use. RV tires can pose an extreme danger if defective. The failure of RV tires on the front position traveling at highway speeds often leads to loss of control and serious injuries or fatalities. A Sears tire is type of tire sold by Sears Roebuck & Co. Many do not know that Sears is actually one of the largest tire retailers in the country through its Sears Auto department. Sears has many Sears tire brands that are manufactured for it by others. There is no Sears tire that is actually manufactured by Sears or any of its divisions. Like many Sears branded products, a Sears tire is a tire built by someone else who has entered into a contract to put the Sears tire name on the sidewall. There are several different major manufacturers who build the Sears tire brands, including Cooper Tire & Rubber Company, an Ohio based company whose tires have been investigated by major news outlets including CNN. Cooper manufactured Sears tire brands have been found to contain defects, including a defect common in Cooper tires which is a propensity to suffer sudden and catastrophic tread failures while the tire is operating on the highway. The condition is the same one that led to the recall of over 14 million Firestone Wilderness AT and ATX tires a few years ago. Even if you trust the Sears name,
4 Sears tire brands can contain defects by virtue of the poor design and manufacturing practices of those who manufacture the tires for Sears. If you suspect that a Sears tire has caused injury or death, you can determine the real manufacturer by reading the DOT code. Tirelitigation.com contains a list of manufacturer codes and an explanation for how to determine the actual manufacturer by looking at the DOT code on the sidewall of your Sears tire. Most consumers assume that the seat belts in their vehicles are such a tried and true technology that they can count on their seat belts to restrain them in an accident. But seat belt accidents are actually all too common in modern society. Seat belt accidents are especially likely to occur in rollover events, where prevalent cheap seat belt designs do a poor job of maintain occupants in the vehicle. Everything from sudden unlatching of the seat belt to spooling out of the shoulder belt can result in belted occupants being ejected or otherwise seriously injured. Like any other automotive product, seat belts cost money to build and manufacturers are always looking for cheaper alternative designs or components. Seat belt accidents are one of the most preventable types of accidents that can occur in a motor vehicle. Seat belt accidents would virtually never occur if all vehicle manufacturers used the better technology that has been available for decades that is only modestly more expensive than the least reliable technology that is often chosen instead. Smith & Fuller, P.A. is a national law practice that can assist in addressing the cause of seat belt accidents, and assist in obtaining compensation if the cause was manufacturer greed and neglect. Steeltex is a tire brand name used in multiple sizes and varieties of Bridgestone/Firestone tires. One of the more common types of Steeltex are Steeltex A/T tires, and Steeltex R4S and R4SII tires. Remarkably, hundreds of thousands of Steeltex tires were recalled just a few years ago due to precisely the same defect found years earlier in Firestone Wilderness AT and ATX tires the undue propensity for the tires to fail suddenly and catastrophically by tread detachment or tread separation. Steeltex tires were equipped on many Ford vehicles as original equipment, including the Ford Excursion. Unfortunately, many other Steeltex tires that were not part of the recall may contain precisely the same defect. Thus far, Firestone and parent Bridgestone have convinced the government that an expanded recall is not necessary, but there have been numerous reported incidents of death and serious injury resulting from defects in Steeltex tires that were not part of the initial recall. If you believe that a defect in a Steeltex tire may have caused injury or death, contact Smith & Fuller, P.A., for assistance. We have a nationwide practice and can determine whether your Steeltex tire was defective.
5 There are Sumitomo tires that are known to contain safety related defects. Sumitomo is a Japanese tire manufacturer with a significant sales presence in the United States and abroad. Sumitomo tires are marketed under various brand names and are distributed in the U.S. by a variety of companies including Dunlop Tire, which is affiliated with Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company. Both manufacturing and design defects have been found to exist in various Sumitomo tires. If you or a family member has been seriously injured or killed in an accident caused by Sumitomo tires, the national law firm of Smith & Fuller, P.A. is here to assist you in determining if your Sumitomo tires were defective and in pursuing justice if a preventable defect caused serious injury or death. For an accident attorney to bring a lawsuit on behalf of a client against a car or component of a car manufacturer, a detailed knowledge of the product is a must. When selecting an accident attorney to handle a defect suit involving a motor vehicle or component part manufacturer, an inquiry should be made as to the number of lawsuits that the accident attorney has handled against Ford, General Motors, or other manufacturers. Similarly, if the failed part is a tire, the accident attorney should be asked about cases he or she has handled against Firestone, Goodyear, Bridgestone, Cooper, Michelin or other tire manufacturers. Not all accident attorneys are equipped or trained to handle complex lawsuits against vehicle or tire manufacturers. Accident attorneys who specialize in automotive products law generally have vast knowledge relating to the automobile component that is the subject of the lawsuit. For example, accident attorneys who bring suits on behalf of clients against tire manufacturers must know how a tire is made and what can go wrong during the design or manufacturing process. All vehicle and tire manufacturers can make mistakes during design or manufacture and only detailed investigation by accident attorneys can result in a favorable outcome for the client. While no accident lawyer can guarantee a favorable result for a client, the odds can be substantially improved if the accident lawyer if familiar with the type of case being handled and has handled similar cases in the past. No where is this more true than if the field of bringing suits against motor vehicle and component parts manufacturers. For an accident lawyer to handle such a lawsuit, he or she must have specialized training and experience to take on multi-national corporations. All persons seriously injured as a result of a seat belt failure, rollover
6 accidents, air bag malfunctions, tire tread separations or blowouts and like should seek out an accident lawyer with the experience and training needed to handle automotive product lawsuits. Only a few accident lawyers practice outside of the courts in the local community. There are a few accident lawyers who accept cases on a nation-wide basis because they possess special training and expertise in automotive products lawsuits. Those accident lawyers who do specialize in rollover accidents, roof crush, seat belt failures, air bag malfunctions, tire blowouts or tire tread separations are knowledgeable about how the product is designed and manufactured and have the financial resources to bring lawsuits against companies such as Ford, General Motors, Firestone, Cooper, Goodyear or Michelin. Only accident lawyers with special training and knowledge are in a position to attempt to bring favorable results for the client. To be capable of handling a major lawsuit against automobile or auto component parts manufacturers, a seriously injured consumer should contact an auto accident attorney who is experienced in automotive product litigation. This is a specialized field of law where a local auto accident attorney is generally not qualified to sustain a law suit against any of the major vehicle or tire manufacturers. In seeking an auto accident attorney for this type of case, a consumer should consider the education, back ground and experience of those auto accident attorneys who specialize in automotive products law. Not all auto accident attorneys are capable of handling suits against auto or auto component parts manufacturers. Only specialized auto accident attorneys can handle suits arising out of rollover accidents, seat belt failures, air bag malfunctions, seat back failures, tire tread separations or tire blow outs. The entire field of automotive product law requires special training and a strong financial backing to be able to sustain suits against Ford, General Motors, Chrysler, Firestone, Goodyear, Cooper or Michelin. The consumer seriously injured by a bad product should contact only auto accident attorneys who are experienced and familiar with the products that form the basis of the law suit. The selection of an auto accident lawyer is an important process for the consumer
7 seriously injured through a vehicle defect or defective tire. An auto accident lawyer who specializes in automobile defect or tire litigation will generally enjoy a national reputation and have sufficient education, background and training to take on the major vehicle or tire manufacturers in the court room. No car manufacturer or tire maker will admit that its product contained a defect, so it is up to the auto accident lawyer to use all available resources to obtain damaging internal documents and otherwise investigate the claims to bring about a successful result for the consumer. In selecting the right auto accident lawyer for your claims, be sure to ask about his or her experience and credentials in dealing with automotive product law. Auto tires are one of the most important components of any motor vehicle. Your auto tires must be the right size, load range, and speed rating for your car as recommended by the vehicle manufacturer. There is a plaque on the door frame of you car to tell you what auto tires are appropriate for you vehicle. The plaque also tells you the proper inflation pressure for your auto tires. But even properly sized and properly inflated auto tires can fail as a result of manufacturing or design defects in your auto tires. In the event of a serious injury or death caused by defective auto tires, it is important to contact a lawyer who devotes his or her practice to automotive products law. An auto tire is an important safety component of your motor vehicle. While it is important to equip your vehicle with the proper size auto tire, an auto tire can fail as a result of manufacturing and design defects. These defects are not unusual as the manufacturer of an auto tire often seeks to reduce the costs of producing and manufacturing the tire. When faced with a defective auto tire that caused serious injury or death, the consumer should contact a specialist lawyer familiar and experienced in dealing with automotive products law. The most obvious sign of a defective auto tire is a separation of the tread and top steel belt from the carcass of the tire at any time before the tire is fully worn out. Bad tires may result in the loss of control of a motor vehicle leading to serious injury or death. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that more than 8000 serious injuries or deaths last year resulted from bad tires. The most obvious kind of a bad tire is one where the tread and top steel belt separates from the carcass of the tire. Such a bad tire is often a product of either a
8 manufacturing or design defect. Separations of these bad tires may not occur for years from the date of manufacture of the tire. Often, the separation of the bad tire is caused by the failure of the manufacturer of the tire to use the proper chemicals and ingredients to protect the bad tire from the effects of age, flexion and heat. Bridgestone of Japan is the parent company of Bridgestone/Firestone doing business in the United States. The Bridgestone tire recall was the largest recall of defective tires in the history of the U.S. tire industry where 14,500,000 ATX and Wilderness AT tires were recalled. The Bridgestone Tire recall centered around the 290 deaths caused by tread separations on the Ford Explorer. The Bridgestone Tire recall did not occur until years after the same tires were recalled in Saudi Arabia, Thailand, Malaysia and Venezuela. It is obvious from the Bridgestone tire recall that Bridgestone and Firestone knew that the tires that were being produced were defective and dangerous. A safe car tire is essential to the safe operation of any motor vehicle. A car tire that is inexpensive or sounds like a good deal, may not be a safe car tire. Often, the manufacturer of an inexpensive car tire cuts corners or uses inadequate ingredients which impacts the safety of the car tire. A car tire made for the replacement market is often less expensive than the original equipment tire supplied by the vehicle manufacturer. Great caution should be exercised in selecting a replacement car tire for the one supplied when the vehicle was new, because the replacement car tire may not be designed or manufactured to the rigorous standards of Ford, General Motors or other vehicle manufacturers. A low price for a replacement car tire is a red flag that the tire may not be safe. In selecting replacement car tires for your car, it is best not to be guided by price. Car tires are important safety features of any motor vehicle. Replacement car tires are only subject to minimal governmental regulation and are not subjected to the rigorous standards of the vehicle manufacturers. Less expensive replacement car tires than those specified by the vehicle manufacturer may actually pose a safety hazard. Manufacturers of replacement car tires may cut corners or use less expensive ingredients which give rise to manufacturing and design defects. Replacement car tires may experience tread and top belt detachments leading to a loss of control of the motor vehicle resulting in death or serious permanent injury. Continental tires are known to contain safety related defects. Continental tires are marketed under the names of Conti and Contitrac SUV. Continental Tires also uses the General Tires brand name. Both manufacturing and design
9 defects have been found to exist in the Continental tires family. If you or a family member has been seriously injured or killed in an accident caused by a faulty Continental tire failure, the national law firm of Smith & Fuller, P.A. is here to assist you in righting the wrongs caused by Continental tires. Cooper Tire & Rubber Company manufactures tires for the replacement market. In the past decade, tire failures involving a Cooper tire have resulted in more that 218 deaths and 248 serious injuries. The most common failure of a Cooper tire is a tread/belt separation where the tread and outer most steel belt separates from the carcass of the tire. When a Cooper tire is mounted on the rear axle and experiences a tread/belt detachment, vehicle control is often lost and may result in a rollover accident. There are many causes for a tread/belt detachment of a Cooper tire which include both manufacturing and design defects. Foreign matter built into a tire is a typical manufacturing defect in a Cooper tire. A typical design defect is the failure to use a belt wedge in a Cooper tire. Cooper tires are manufactured for the replacement market. Generally, Cooper tires are less expensive than the tires of other manufacturers. The lower price for Cooper tires is directly tied to the safety of Cooper tires. Cooper tires are more prone to tread separations than those of other tire manufacturers. A tread separation of Cooper tires may lead to lack of control of the motor vehicle upon which it is mounted. Cooper tires experiencing tread separations over the last decade have resulted in over 218 deaths. One should exercise caution when purchasing Cooper tires. A defective tire may result in loss of control of a motor vehicle leading to serious injuries or deaths. A defective tire may be the result of manufacturing mistakes or design flaws. Typical manufacturing mistakes leading to a defective time may include foreign matter built into the tire, belt misallignment, open splices, improper belt step off, under cure or the use of rusted steel wires. Typical design defects producing a defective tire include lack of belt wedges, use of improper chemicals, use of too hot curing temperatures, improper belt step offs and thin inner liners. Defective tire law suits should be handled only by attorneys knowledgeable in the specialized field of defective tire law. Defective tires are often associated with serious motor vehicle accidents resulting in severe injuries and deaths. Defective tires are manufactured by all tire
10 manufacturers because mistakes can easily happen during the manufacturing process. Foreign matter, open splices, rusted wires, snaked belts, and improper cures can lead to defective tires. Defective tires are often not caught during the inspection process by a manufacturer and defective tires are sold to consumers. Most tread/belt or tread separations are caused by defective tires. Defective Dunlop tires can cause a loss of control of your motor vehicle leading to serious injuries or deaths. Defective Dunlop tires can be caused by either design or manufacturing defects. Examples of design defects in Dunlop tires include thin inner liners, hot cures, inadequate belt wedges and inadequate chemicals in the steel belt rubber. Examples of manufacturing defects in Dunlop tires include open splices, snaked belts, misalligned belts, and foreign matter built into Dunlop tires. Fatal accidents may result from defective light truck and passenger tires. Fatal accidents occur when drivers lose control of their motor vehicles because of a tread separation or blow out. Not all tire failures lead to fatal accidents, but many do. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration as many as 8000 serious injuries or fatal accidents per year are the result of tire failures. Fatal accidents occur to both belted and unbelted passengers. Were laminated glass used by the vehicle manufacturers in the side windows, many fatal accidents could be avoided. In 2001, Firestone recalled over 14,500,000 ATX and Wilderness tires mounted on the Ford Explorer. Despite the massive publicity relating to this recall, many recalled Firestone tires remain in older models of the Explorer in the spare tire position. Firestone encouraged the Firestone retail stores to only recapture the four tires in the driving positions and to ignore the recalled Firestone tires in the spare position. Even though the recalled tire in the spare position may look new, this Firestone tire is likely to experience a tread separation in a short period after being placed into use. Bridgestone Corporation is the parent company of Firestone. A Firestone lawyer to handle your law suit arising out of serious injuries or deaths of a loved one resulting from a defective tire should have handled a number of cases arising from the recalled tires. A Firestone lawyer will have read all the internal communications of Firestone produced in discovery and a Firestone lawyer will be familiar with all the depositions that have been taken of Firestone employees. Every attorney at Smith & Fruller, P.A. is a Firestone lawyer.
11 The production of defective tires resulted in a massive Firestone recall. Beginning in August, 2000, over 14,500,000 ATX and Wilderness AT tires were the subject of the Firestone recall. The Firestone recall of the Wilderness AT tires followed a lengthy investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration where NHTSA found that the tires contained safety related defects. One of the specific findings of the Office of Defect Investigation leading to the Firestone recall related to the use of a belt wedge between the edges of the two steel belts was too thin. The Firestone recall ended up costing the company hundreds of millions of dollars. Firestone recalled tires are still lurking in the spare tire position of older Ford Explorers. Although Firestone recalled tires in 2000 and 2001, many of the Firestone authorized dealers failed to replace the spare tire. Accordingly, the Firestone recalled tires are being placed into service and pose a significant hazard to the motoring public. The Firestone recalled tires, though looking new, are likely to fail with in a few miles of being placed into service. Reporting of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that many of the Firestone recalled tires were recaptured. In looking for a lawyer to handle a Firestone recalled tire accident, call Smith & Fuller, P.A., Firestone recalls of its tires exceed in numbers all of the other tire manufacturers combined. Two massive recalls lead the list of Firestone recalls. The first of Firestone recalls took place in the early to mid 1970's and involved the Firestone 500 line. The most recent Firestone recalls involved the ATX and Wilderness AT tires. Over 14,500,000 tires were included in the most recent Firestone recalls. Firestone recalls for defective tires have cost the company over a billion dollars. The Firestone Steeltex tires have been the subject of several defect investigations by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The Firestone Steeltex lines of tires have been reported to have thousands of tread separations leading to serious injuries or deaths. The usual mode of such failures begins as a belt edge separation between the top and bottom steel belts in the Firestone Steeltex tires. A Firestone Steeltex belt edge separation can lead to a complete tread/belt detachment resulting in loss of control of a motor vehicle. Before control is lost, the failed Firestone Steeltex tire will cause the vehicle to pull to the side where the failed tire occurred.
12 A Firestone tire blowout may be confused with a tread separation that may result in the sudden loss of air in the tire. Whether the failure is called a Firestone tire blowout or a tread separation, the vehicle upon which the failed tire is mounted may experience a loss of control. A Firestone tire blowout is a life threatening event and when such tires are mounted on SUV s, the Firestone tire blowout becomes even more dangerous because of the high center of gravity of the vehicle. Specialists lawyers who are familiar with tire litigation should handle Firestone tire blowout cases. Firestone tire recalls are larger and more frequent than those of any other tire manufacturer in the world. The Firestone tire recalls have resulted from the production of defective tires which have involved the basic design of the tires. Efforts to make the tires less expensively are the primary reason for the Firestone tire recalls. In the mid 1990's Bridgestone Corporation, the Japanese parent of Firestone, ordered cost saving moves to make cheaper tires that directly led to the Firestone tire recalls. A preliminary engineering report of the Office of Defect Investigation found safety related defects in the Wilderness AT tires leading to the Firestone tire recalls. A Firestone tread separation occurred in thousands of ATX and Wilderness AT tires leading to the recall of over 14,500,000 tires. The Firestone tread separation epidemic was caused by efforts to make the tires cheaper. A Firestone tread separation of a tire on the rear axle of an SUV often caused a loss of control of the motor vehicle upon which it was mounted. Defects in both design and manufacture caused the Firestone tread separation. The primary defect found to a safety related defect was the lack of a robust belt wedge between the edges of the top and bottom steel belts that gave rise to a Firestone tread separation. The Firestone Wilderness tire was the subject of a massive investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The Office of Defect Investigation of NHTSA found the Firestone Wilderness tire to contain safety related defects. The Firestone Wilderness tire replaced the Firestone ATX tire as the original equipment tire for the Ford Explorer. Both the ATX and Firestone Wilderness tires were recalled by Firestone. Despite the recall, many Firestone Wilderness tires remain in the spare position of older Ford Explorers. Though those tires may appear new, many of these Firestone Wilderness tires are extremely dangerous when placed into service.
13 The Firestone Wilderness AT tire replaced the Firestone ATX tire as the original equipment tire for the Ford Explorer. Unfortunately, the Firestone Wilderness AT tire proved to be no better that its predecessor and ultimately both the ATX and Firestone Wilderness AT tires were recalled for safety related defects. By 2001, over 290 people in the U.S were killed when the ATX and Firestone Wilderness AT tires experienced tread/belt detachments that caused loss of control of the motor vehicles upon which they were mounted. The Firestone Wilderness AT tire was not recalled until after a defect finding by the federal government. However, the Firestone Wilderness AT tire was the subject of a silent recall in other parts of the world long before the recall in the U.S. A flat tire can be the result of road hazards including punctures or it can result from manufacturing and design defects. A flat tire caused by design or manufacturing defects usually involves a tread and top steel belt detachment which, in the course of an accident, causes the flat tire. A flat tire resulting in a tread/belt detachment can be an extremely dangerous event because control of the vehicle can be lost and serious injuries and deaths may result. When a flat tire caused by a puncture is repaired, an improper repair may lead to a tread separation. Futura tire is a brand of tires manufactured by Cooper Tire & Rubber Company. The Futura Tire brand has a long history and was introduced into Cooper s tire line in the mid-1980's. The Futura tire brand began as a copy of Goodyear Tire s Wrangler. The original structure of the Futura tire contained a nylon cap on top of the outermost steel belt. Because Cooper did not know how to apply the nylon cap, it was soon abandoned for a third steel belt. Ultimately the Futura tire discontinued the third steel belt. This, like other tires in the Cooper product line, is prone to tread/belt detachments that may result in accidents involving serious injuries or deaths. A General Grabber Tire can separate during normal road operation. The separation of a General Grabber Tire usually begins as a belt edge separation and then progresses to a become a tread/belt detachment. The failures of a General Grabber tire through a tread/belt detachment can be an extraordinarily dangerous event that can lead to loss of control, serious injuries and deaths. The General Grabber tire is made by Continental Tires that also goes by the name Conti. General tire was, at one time, an independent tire manufacturer based in the United States. General Tire was acquired by Continental Tire that changed its
14 name to Conti and since has been sold to foreign interests. General Tire is still used as a brand name for the Conti tires, but it is on the low end of the price scale. Because it is a low cost tire, General tires brand tires tend to experience tread separations that can lead to serious injuries or deaths. Kumho tires are made in Korea. Over the years, there have been a number of law suits alleging defective tires against Kumho tires. Those lawsuits against Kumho tires have involved both manufacturing and design defects. If you or a loved one has been injured or killed as a result of a defective Kumho tire, be sure to contact a lawyer familiar with tire defect law. Cooper Tire & Rubber company is the manufacturer of the Mastrercraft tire. A Mastercraft tire has various models in the product line including the Avenger, Channel/Trac, Courser, Custom, Glacier-Grip, M210, M310, M411, M420, M511, M528, M611, M628, Mark VII, Metric Steel, Sensys, Solitaire and Touring. The brand names on the Mastercraft tire line do not identify Cooper Tire as the manufacturer. The only way to show that a Mastercraft tire is made by Cooper tire is through the manufacturer identification code on the tire s sidewall. A Mastercraft tire may experience tread separations as a result of manufacturing and design defects. If you or a loved one has been seriously injured through a failure of a Mastercraft tire, be sure to contact a lawyer familiar with tire defect law. Mastercraft tires are manufactured by Cooper Tire & Rubber Company. Mastercraft tires use various additional brand names such as the Mastercraft Avenger or Mastercraft Courser, but all of them are make by Cooper Tire. The only way to identify Mastercraft tires as having been manufactured by Cooper tire with with reference to the encoded DOT number stamped into the sidewall. Mastercraft tires are but one of the brands that have been known to experience tread separations. Over the past decade, more than 280 people have been killed in tire failure accidents of Cooper-made tires, including Mastercraft tires. A motorcycle accident attorney should be able to identify for you the key components of a motorcycle that can fail in normal operation giving rise to serious injuries or deaths. It is imperative that a motorcycle accident attorney have an understanding of how motorcycle tires are designed and manufactured. Tire failure is the most common component of motorcycle accidents and a motorcycle accident attorney should have qualified tire experts to identify key manufacturing and design defects in the tire. If you believe that a tire failure caused serious
15 injuries or death, be sure to contact a motorcycle accident attorney. There are many kinds of motorcycle accident attorneys. Because the most frequent cause of motorcycle accidents is a tire failure, the motorcycle accident attorneys you select to handle your case must have special expertise in tire manufacturing and design defects of tires. Motorcycle accident attorneys are generally not skilled in tire defect law suits, so it is important to select a tire specialist as your motorcycle accident attorneys. Motorcycle accident lawyers in your local community generally do not have knowledge of motorcycle accidents caused by a tire failure. There are very few motorcycle accident lawyers who understand how tires are designed and manufactured to that a product liability suit can be brought against the tire manufacturer. In selecting motorcycle accident lawyers to handle your case involving serious injury or death, you ought to consider whether the motorcycle accident lawyers in your community have the resources and knowledge to take on a major tire manufacturer. It is not unusual that a consumer injured in a tire accident has no idea that a tire was even involved. A tire accident can take many forms. Of course tires sometimes fail from punctures, and they sometimes just plain wear out and need to be replaced. But a tire should never fall apart such as through a detachment of the tread or steel belts while being operated on the highway. A tire accident that results from an internal structural failure of a tire is almost always preventable by using proven and effective tire design and construction methods. But corporate greed being what it is, tire accidents that should not occur do occur. Almost every tire accident stemming from the Firestone Wilderness AT and ATX tires equipped on Ford Explorers, for example, was preventable. But it took hundreds of deaths and thousands of serious injuries to finally cause Firestone to finally recall the tires. A tire accident stemming from a failure mode known as tread separation or tread/belt detachment is almost always the result of the tire company s negligence and greed. If you suspect that a tire defect caused a blowout or a tread separation failure that resulted in serious injury or death, you may want to contact a tire attorney. Many consumers have no idea that there is such a thing as a tire attorney, and they are prone to call any lawyer who does personal injury lawsuit work if they seek legal counsel. However, there are lawyers available who focus on these sorts of cases just as there are doctors who have certain practice areas. A tire attorney
16 is a lawyer who concentrates his or her practice on matters involving tire defects and catastrophic injuries and fatalities resulting from tire defects. A tire attorney has special training and experience in identifying tire defects, and knows to associate with proven and qualified tire experts who can conduct a forensic analysis and identify the root cause of a tire failure. A tire attorney is also experienced in addressing the common defenses that will be asserted by the tire company and its lawyers. Smith & Fuller, P.A., is a law firm devoted to helping consumers nationwide who are victims of tire failures resulting from tire defects. If it is a tire attorney that you need, call us at When you experience a true tire blow out, your tire has probably been ruptured by a sharp object and it will suddenly lose air. In the 1950's and 1960's when there were millions of bias ply tires on the roadways, a tire blow out was a fairly common event. Bias ply tires did not have steel belts to protect them from puncture or damage. As a result, ruptures in bias ply tires were fairly difficult to prevent. A true tire blow out is a less common event with the advent of steel belted radial tires, which became common in the United States in the 1970s. Steel belted radial tires, especially those produced over the last several years, have a number of built-in features that retard the likelihood of sudden air loss from puncture or impact. It is actually pretty uncommon that a steel belted radial tire will blow out the way old bias ply tires did. More likely, such a tire will gradually lose air after a puncture over a period of minutes, hours or even days. However, the term tire blow out continues to be used by many consumers to refer to any type of tire failure where the tire suddenly fails while being operated on the highway. For example, tire blow out is often used to describe other types of failures including tread separation a.k.a. tread/belt separation or tread detachment failures. A tread separation is quite different from a tire blow out. A tread separation failure is much more dangerous and involves specific forces and effects on vehicle handling that much more often lead to loss of control than a more traditional tire blow out. A tread separation where the tread of the tire literally peels away from the carcass while the tire is operating, is usually the result of a defect in the tire. It often takes a trained professional to discern the difference between a true tire blow out, and a structural failure such as a tread separation associated with a tire defect, because tread separation failure can look like tire blow outs after a wreck. The term tire blowout is generic terminology that is often used by
17 consumers or police officers to denote any number of different types of tire failures. Back in the days of bias ply tires, a tire blowout by its most accurate definition which is a sudden loss of air associated with a rupture in the body of the tire, was a fairly common event. Tires did not have steel belts to protect them from puncture or damage, and often a rupture in such a tire would be accompanied by a large bang, followed by the tire going flat almost immediately. The air in the tire would literally blowout. A true tire blowout is a less common event with steel belted radial tires, because such tires have a number of built in features that retard the likelihood of sudden air loss from puncture or impact. However, the term tire blowout has lived on, and is often used to describe other types of failures including tread separation a.k.a. tread/belt separation or tread detachment failures. There is in fact an important distinction not know to many consumers or even police officers between a tire blowout, and a failure of the internal tire structure such as a tread separation. The latter is much more dangerous and involves specific forces and effects on vehicle handling that much more often lead to loss of control than a more traditional tire blowout. A tread separation where the tread of the tire literally peels away from the carcass while the tire is operating, is usually the result of a defect in the tire. It often occurs without loss of air until the tire is damaged in the subsequent crash. Yet the flat tire often fools the investigator into thinking the tire blew out. A true tire blowout, where the tire suddenly loses air, is more likely the result of damage to the tire from outside forces such as a puncture or impact. It often takes a trained professional to tell the difference between a true tire blowout, and another more sinister type of failure. A potentially deadly tire defect is the lack of an adequate belt wedge, a component critical to tire safety. In the year 2000, the federal government through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Office of Defect Investigation (ODI), issued a report declaring a tire defect in millions of Firestone Wilderness AT tires by virtue of the small size of the belt wedge. The belt wedge is an important component in a modern steel belted radial tire because it is the component that diffuses stress and heat at the steel belt edges, the location in the tire where most life threatening failures occur. A tire defect of this nature can cause sudden and catastrophic disintegration of the tire on the freeway, often leading to loss of vehicle control. Remarkably, a tire company called Cooper Tire & Rubber Company, builds tires to this day with no belt wedge at all. Hundreds of people have allegedly been killed when Cooper tires with tire defects associated with improper design failed and caused high speed accidents. Another common type of tire defect can occur at the manufacturing level, where tire components are put together into the finished tire product. A tire is a complex structure and a tire
18 defect resulting from sloppy manufacturing practices can be just as deadly as a tire with an inherently unsafe design. Tire defects come in many different forms. Perhaps the most common type of tire defects are benign and result in a tire that is not perfectly round and smooth when mounted. Even relatively small variations in the manufacturing process, especially among sloppy manufacturers who focus more on reducing cost than tire quality, can lead to tires that have undue vibration or noise or both. These types of tire defects are not generally life threatening, and are more nuisance than hazard. But tire defects can also be life threatening. Tire defects in the Ford Explorer mounted Firestone Wilderness AT and ATX tires that caused a propensity for tire tread separation failure at highway speeds and resulting crashes, led to the recall of more than 14 million tires in 2000 and Tragically, hundreds of people died and thousands were seriously injured before those tires were finally recalled. Many believe that the tire defects that led to the recall were only dealt with because of the sheer number of the tires sold. Unfortunately, most tires sold in smaller numbers with tire defects are never recalled or even brought to the government s attention. Tire companies conceal tire defects by blaming consumers when tires fail. And the government agencies in charge of uncovering tire defects and protecting consumers are extremely understaffed and often have their own political agenda or are influence from lobbyists. If you are considering a lawsuit or claim related to a defective tire that resulted in serious injuries or other damages, you should carefully choose a law firm that has access to a tire expert or tire experts who will give accurate opinions about the cause of your tire failure. Having a trained forensic tire expert examine your failed tire is critical as a first step in determining whether a tire failure was the result of external forces or a defective tire. Moreover, only a properly trained tire expert with specific qualifications and background will be allowed to testify in Court concerning the cause of the failure. Most would think that it would be easy to find a tire expert who could assist in such circumstances, but in fact this is a major challenge that faces anyone who desires to bring a claim against a tire company. Only a tire expert who can qualify under the rigorous expert witness standards imposed by many Courts should be used. Only properly trained tire experts with appropriate background will be allowed to testify on behalf of consumers in most cases involving a defective tire. If you are considering a lawsuit related to a failed tire that resulted in serious
19 injuries or other damages, you should carefully choose a law firm that has access to tire experts who will give accurate opinions that will stand up in a Court of law. One would think that tire experts who could assist in such circumstances would be plentiful, but in fact there are few tire experts who will qualify under the rigorous expert witness standards imposed by many Courts. Persons who claim to be tire experts but who lack specific training and experience in the industry are routinely rejected by Courts during litigation, creating an unfair advantage for the tire company defendant. Tire companies of course have their own tire experts who make a living testifying that failures of the company s tire were the fault of the consumer. Make sure that if you need to pursue a claim against a tire company, that you find attorneys to assist you who have access to the qualified tire experts you will need to achieve a fair result. If you have suffered a tire failure and suffered a major injury or a family member has been killed as a result, you are justifiably angry and you may be absolutely correct if you suspect that the entire tragedy could have been avoided. It is true that there are many reasons for a tire failure to occur. Sometimes a tire failure is unavoidable and is merely the result of road hazards or normal wear. But sometimes a tire failure especially one involving separation of the tread from the tire s carcass is the result of poor engineering or design, usually the result of cost-cutting campaigns by tire manufacturers. Like any other product, tires can be built in a manner that they are prone to fall apart if short-term profit and keeping down cost is put ahead of quality considerations. But unlike the failure of most other consumer products, a tire failure is often deadly. A poorly made clock may inconvenience you. A poorly made tire may kill you. Unfortunately, tire manufacturers rarely take personal responsibility for the tragedies than can result from their bad decisions and the greed of their executives. Some tire company executives are only interested in short term profits. The executives chalk it all up as a cost of business when a tire failure of one of their products kills a young mother or puts a child in a wheelchair for life. Tire failure related tragedies like these can and should be avoided by responsible companies. Tire failures occur all too often due to cost-cutting measures by tire manufacturers. Of course not all tire failures are someone s fault. Road hazards and simple lack of maintenance can cause tire failures ranging from uneven tread wear to a simple flat tire. But these sorts of tire failures are not generally dangerous, and the anticipated consequences from such tire failures are usually nothing more than the inconvenience and cost of replacing a tire. Tires are not indestructible. However, mechanical tire failures within the structure of a tire such as tread separation and tread detachment are a different story. Tire failures
20 involving internal mechanical failure where the internal components of a tire literally split apart and fail during normal tire use can have deadly consequences. These types of tire failures are known to be dangerous and have resulted in huge tire recalls like the Firestone Wilderness AT and ATX recall for a reason. But tire companies sometimes still go too far in their quest for profits, and they build tires prone to tire failures that will kill, chalking up the cost in human lives and misery and the resulting lawsuits as just another cost of doing business. No company should elevate profits over human life in this callous manner, especially when tire failures such as tread separations are almost entirely preventable with longavailable and reasonable tire construction techniques. A tire lawyer is one who focuses his or her practice on cases involving tire defects and catastrophic injuries and fatalities resulting from tire defects. A tire lawyer may work for the tire manufacturer, or for the consumer. Tire manufacturers of course have their own teams of tire lawyers who are experienced in those types of cases to defend their interests. Smith & Fuller, P.A., is a law firm devoted to helping consumers who are victims of tire failures resulting from tire defects. We have filed lawsuits around the country on behalf of families who have been devastated by preventable paralytic injuries or deaths or brain damage or other catastrophic loss suffered by the family breadwinners. If you or your loved one has been involved in an accident involving a tire failure, tire defect, or tire recall, it is important to find a tire lawyer who understands the scientific and technical issues associated with suing a major product manufacturer. A tire lawyer should also have access to the financial resources needed to combat the national law firms that tire manufacturers hire to represent their interests. When the tread and top belt of a tire detach from the bottom belt and carcass, one may refer to this event as a tire separation. A tire separation is also referred to more technically as a tread and belt detachment, or tread separation. Some tire separations involve only the tread, others involve the tread and both belts. A tire separation can be ultra-hazardous, especially if the vehicle that suffers the event is traveling on the highway. High center of gravity vehicles such as some SUVs are particularly vulnerable to the effects of a tire separation, because the tire separation often causes the driver to lose control and skid. A skid in an unstable vehicle at high speeds generally leads to a rollover crash. A tire separation is an event that almost never occurs without an underlying defect in the tire. But tire companies generally blame the consumer for tire separation if serious injuries are involved. They will have an expert inspect the tire and find evidence of underinflation or other misuse. Many consumer lawyers do not have training or experience in handling tire separation cases to know what to look for and how to