Crashworthiness and Tire Safety

Crashworthiness and Tire Safety


Hello, I’m attorney John Bales. And I would like to give you some Legal Insight into “crashworthiness.” “Crashworthiness” refers to a car manufacturer’s responsibility to make a vehicle that will provide reasonable protection to the persons in the car at the time of a crash. Sounds obvious, right? But not all cars are crashworthy. One well-known example is the Ford Pinto, which was considered NOT to be “crashworthy” some 30 years ago. The Pinto had such a poorly designed gas tank it could explode in flames if it was rear-ended by another vehicle, even at slow speeds. There was testimony in Pinto cases that the cost to fix this defect was 11 dollars per car. Automotive crashes have been ranked as the 9th leading cause of death worldwide. However, fewer than 10% of these accidents are caused by vehicle defects, environmental conditions, or unknown reasons. This means that 90% of all vehicle accidents are caused by operator error. You can find information about John Bales Attorneys legal services here.

There is a bill pending before the Florida legislature that may help automakers avoid responsibility when their vehicles cause serious injury because it was not crashworthy. Under the proposed bill, the Courts would be forced to go against legal precedent and juries would be told to consider what led to the accident when deciding who is at fault for the car NOT being crashworthy, instead of just considering if the car is crashworthy and if this defect caused additional injuries. This would allow the car manufacturers to deflect responsibility for making an unreasonably safe car. Under our current law, negligent drivers are held fully responsible for any injuries caused by their reckless behavior. They are just not held unfairly responsible for the injuries caused by the car maker’s negligence of building a defective car. A possible result of this bill is that if a car hit a telephone pole and the driver had head injuries because the air bag didn’t deploy, juries would be allowed to place blame on the driver for the defective air bag design.

Does that make sense to you? Should a car-maker that made a defective product that caused injuries in an accident be able to shift blame to the driver? Remember, you have rights. If you were injured because of a car that was not crashworthy, contact an attorney. If you have a topic you would like me to discuss here, please go call me at 1-800-Call-John or go to JohnBales dot-com and click on Legal Insight.

Tire Safety

Hello, I’m attorney John Bales. And today I’d like to give you some Legal Insight on Tire Safety. The Florida legislature has been considering a bill that may save lives on our roadways. The proposed law would require tire retailers to tell customers when the tire was made. You may not be aware of this, but Florida law permits tire manufacturers to sell tires as, quote, “new” even though they may have been sitting on store shelves for years! Some retailers may oppose this bill because they are afraid that customers will not buy tires that have been sitting in their shops for a while.

Tires that have been on shelves for years may still look new, but they may have been degrading. That’s because tires begin to age and weaken from the moment they are made, even without being used. What happens is oxygen begins to interact with rubber, so it begins to degrade. When this happens, tires can blow out or fail. The United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that 400 deaths annually are caused by tire failure. Tire and car manufacturers sometimes are hesitant to admit a problem. For example, Firestone recalled six and a half million tires in 2000, only after accident victims uncovered overwhelming evidence of tire failures. That same year, NITSA said faulty Firestone tires caused 148 deaths.

Most people don’t know how to tell the age of a tire. There is a code used on many tires, but you may be required to crawl under the car to see it because it is on the inside sidewall of the tire. If you are buying a new tire, ask the retailer to show you the date it was made. You should consider not buying a tire that is over three years old. We hope the Florida legislature passes the bill requiring tire retailers to disclose when the tire was made. Consumers who are in an accident due to a defective tire may have a products liability case against the tire manufacturer for the tread separation. Remember, you do have rights. Contact an attorney. If you have any legal topic you would like me to discuss on Legal Insight, call 1-800-Call-John or go to our web site, John Bales dot-com and click on Legal Insight.