We have written about the problems involving aged tires in previous issues. This is a safety issue that most individuals were totally unaware of until most recently and many still don’t know about it. A bill was recently introduced in the Ohio Senate that would require tire dealers to disclose the tire’s age to consumers if the tire was either retreaded or three years old by the date of the sale. The disclosure must be in the form of a written notice and must state, “This tire is not new.” If tire dealers do not properly disclose the tire’s age, the dealer will be fined $250 for each violation.
Ohio is the fourth state this year to introduce a bill on tire aging. The Legislative Assembly of Puerto Rico introduced a bill that would ban the sale of tires older than six years. Massachusetts introduced a bill that would require tires older than six years to be removed if found during a safety inspection. Maryland’s bill is similar to the one in Ohio in that it requires disclosure of the tire’s age if the tire has been retreaded or is older than three years. Like the Ohio bill, the Maryland bill requires disclosure in the form of a written notice that informs the consumer that the tire is not new and that the tire should be replaced after six years.
The introduction of tire aging bills is causing a much needed uproar in the tire industry. In legislative hearings, legislators have rightfully noticed that tire manufacturers and dealers have not been truthful with the public about the dangers of tire aging. Further, legislators are realizing what Plaintiffs’ lawyers have known for years – that tire inspections do not reveal the dangers of tire aging. In a recent hearing before the Maryland House Committee on Economic Matters, Delegate Benjamin Kramer stated:
Tires degrade over time, no matter how carefully they are stored. The rubber material becomes more brittle, and at high speed when the centrifugal force gets to a point, the tread can separate, causing a catastrophic failure. They can examine tires until the cows come home, but the degradation is not visible to the eye.
Our firm has successfully handled a number of cases involving tire aging. A recent case involved a crash resulting from the failure of a 10-year-old tire. In that case, our client took her car into a tire and lube franchise to have one of her tires repaired for being low. When the tire technician informed her that her tire could not be repaired, he recommended that she use her full-size spare. Our client expressed concerns about her spare tire’s age and condition to the technician. She relied on the technician to tell her if the tire was unsafe or if she needed to purchase a new tire.
The technician, without verifying the tire’s age, repeatedly assured her that her tire was safe. The tire was actually more than 10 years old. On her way back home, the tire failed on the interstate, causing our client’s vehicle to leave the road and roll over. This crash resulted in severe injuries to our client and her passengers. Fortunately, Rick Morrison, a shareholder at our firm, has extensive knowledge about tire aging defects and was able to negotiate a favorable settlement for our clients.
Legislative regulation of tire aging will hopefully raise awareness of the dangers of tire aging among consumers, dealers, and manufacturers. Increased awareness could help avoid accidents like the one experienced by our client. If you have any questions regarding the dangers of tire aging, contact Rick Morrison, a lawyer in our firm’s Personal Injury/Product Liability Section at Rick.Morrison@BeasleyAllen.com or by phone at 800-898-2034.
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