As we purchase products, including motor vehicles, from different retailers and dealers, it is crucial that we recognize that nothing is infallible. When buying cars, we almost never take the time to consider they can inflict potential harm upon us. The hard question that arises if a product does, in fact, cause an injury is, “Can you be sure that a defect in that product was the cause of injury or death?” This fact is sometimes challenging to establish. Often, expert testimony will be needed to help demonstrate the flaws in the product.
Some car component failures predominantly occur in warm weather climates like South Florida. For example, tread separation in tires, also known as “delamination” or “tread belt detachment.” This defect is characterized by the top layer of tread together with the outer steel belt peeling away wholly or partially from the casing or body of the tire.
What hot weather does to your car’s tires
Every year in Florida, when it starts to get hot, there are hundreds and hundreds of tire tread separations on the highways. Many of which cause catastrophic crashes.
Tire tread separation is an extremely dangerous condition because it changes the driving dynamics of a motor vehicle and typically occurs at highway speeds. This defect places the driver in the unenviable position of having to deal with a motor vehicle which is reacting erratically, and differently than it had been responding just moments before the tread separation. For this reason, it is frequent that tread separations initiate rollover events with catastrophic consequences.
Even a driver who knows they’re going to experience a tread separation usually can’t control his or her vehicle when it happens, especially if the tread separation involves one of the rear tires.
The tire companies and their defense experts are reluctant to admit that their tires have a defective design. Instead, they typically place the blame for not keeping tires in good condition on the vehicle owner. One of the problems with this argument is that it leads to the incredible conclusion that people in warm weather climates take worse care of their cars than those in colder climates.
The well-known truth is that heat buildup accelerates the tread separation process. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) research supports the idea that air temperature along with the age of a tire and inflation, plays some role in the likelihood of its failure. Tires need to be designed and manufactured so that they do not peel apart and retain their integrity when subjected to the extra stress of operating in warm weather. It’s just common sense.
Tire manufacturers admit to a ten-year expiration date, but the real figure from the car manufacturers is six years. BMW, Chrysler, Ford, Nissan, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, and Toyota all say six years. Tires after six years, particularly in hot climates, will oxidize and break down, so that the glue holding the tire together starts to degrade, making tread separation far more likely.
What can you do to prove a product is defective
The problem is, manufacturers never tell consumers that oxidation brakes down the rubber in tires, leading to tread separations as tires get older, especially in hot parts of the country.
“Once you’ve been a car accident lawyer and have represented plaintiffs for long enough, there are some consumer products you don’t look at the same anymore. So it goes with tire failures, which, nationwide, cause a death or two a day,” said Miami car accident attorney Sean M. Cleary.
In Florida, determining who is liable for injuries caused by defective products can sometimes be difficult. Often, expert testimony will be needed to help demonstrate the flaws in the product. Testing the theory that tire tread separation affected the stability of a motor vehicle and that was what caused it to rollover takes time, money and energy.
When companies manufacture products, it’s their responsibility to make sure that the products are safe before they place them in the consumer market. There are multiple requirements for safety that a company must meet before they can sell their product to a consumer.
Given these mandatory safety requirements, it should be noted that a company’s number one objective is to increase revenue. Often this creates situations where unsafe products make their way into the hands of unknowing customers. When a dangerous product does slip through the implemented safety precautions, it is the company that produced the product that becomes liable for any injury that the product created.