The Dangers of Goodyear RV Tires
Recreational vehicles carry families during times of adventure, vacation and relaxation. Rarely do RV travelers give a second thought to the safety of their vehicles’ tires, but recent allegations point to deadly defects in a certain type of Goodyear RV tires.
According to recent reports, defective Goodyear 159 (G159) tires installed on thousands of recreational vehicles allegedly caused crashes that injured or killed nearly 100 people in the past two decades.
Lawsuits allege the G159 tires were designed for pickup and delivery trucks in commercial service and not for RVs that travel at highway speeds. When tires carry loads far greater than what they are designed and constructed to carry, the material properties can degrade and cause tread separation, even if the tires have sufficient tread to be operated on the roadway.
Goodyear failed to adequately test the tires and report internal testing results to RV manufacturers. According to a recent report, high-speed tests of the G159 resulted in significant failures, yet Goodyear never reported the test results to RV manufacturers when approached about reported failures of the tire.
Goodyear received notices of G159 failures as early as 1996, the first year it was manufactured and installed on RVs, but has kept the tire defects secret for decades by obtaining confidential settlements and getting court records sealed.
Last year, federal safety officials began investigating whether Goodyear’s use of G159 tires are unsafe. The investigation covers about 40,000 tires made from 1996-2003. The tires have not yet been recalled, despite the allegations.
On April 5, an Arizona judge ruled to release documents to the public that reveal claim and complaint data about the tires. In December, a court order unsealed and released the documents to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, but they had not been made public.
In his ruling, Maricopa County Superior Court Judge John Hannah wrote: “That information—primarily concerning the tire’s design, it’s testing, the decision to market it for use on motor homes, and the adjustment data generated by consumer experience with it—should be made public because it relates to and reveals a substantial potential risk to public health or safety.”
Steps to Take After an RV Tire Failure
If you are involved in an accident involving a defective RV tire, you may notice these signs:
The tread (and often a portion of the underlying belt) tears away from the tire carcass.
Report of a “blowout.”
Sudden changes in the direction of the vehicle’s travel.
Tire scuffs on the roadway or side of the vehicle.
After the accident, it is important to take these steps to ensure your legal rights are protected:
Make sure the RV—and the subject tire—are preserved. It is difficult to pursue a potential claim without the vehicle and tire.
Call the police. A police report is important if you file a claim with your insurance company and if you pursue a potential lawsuit.
Report accurate information about the crash. If you call the police, make sure you tell the investigating officer exactly what happened. If you cannot recall certain facts, it is better to tell the officer you are not sure, rather than report inaccurate information.
Take pictures. If you have a cell phone or camera with you, take pictures of the vehicle/tire damage. If you cannot take photos at the scene, take them as soon as possible after the accident.
Seek medical attention. If you don’t appear to be seriously injured at the time of the accident, but feel pain or other changes after the crash, seek medical attention immediately. For example, if you lost consciousness even for a short period following the accident, you may have suffered a concussion or brain injury. If untreated, you can experience cognitive and behavioral changes.
Keep a file. Keep all accident-related documents and information together, including insurance information (claim number, adjuster’s name); names and phone numbers of contacts; receipts for any expenses incurred from the accident.
Protect your rights. Consult an attorney to make sure your rights are protected. Personal injury attorney work on a contingency fee basis, which means you pay no fees unless the attorney obtains a recovery on your behalf.