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Regulators question Goodyear about RV tire injury claims

Motorhome owners in Texas anticipate long trips with their recreational vehicles, but an RV tire produced by Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. appears likely to fail during extended use at highway speeds. In June 2002, the manufacturer issued a service bulletin about tire model G159 that authorized free replacement tires for some owners. At that point, Goodyear had processed at least 20 claims about tire failures that caused injury or death. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and attorneys for victims want to know why the company did not issue a recall.

A former official at the NHTSA said that the number of claims associated with G159 tires should have triggered a legal obligation to recall the tires. In the past two decades, 41 lawsuits have attributed the tires to accidents because of their tendency to fail under hot conditions. The opinions of product experts and internal Goodyear reports indicate that the G159 was not appropriate for use on RVs.

Goodyear allegedly kept accident information from regulators through secret settlements with victims. This process prevented data about the problems from reaching the NHTSA, which would have investigated the matter because of the number of claims for injuries, property damage and deaths. A recall might have prevented accidents. After the company's service bulletin in 2002, Goodyear received 57 more injury and death claims and 240 complaints about property damage.

Manufacturers have a duty to produce safe products. When defects cause accidents and injuries, a victim might pursue financial damages through products liability law. An attorney could assist with this process by gathering evidence about the causes of the accident. After filing court paperwork, a lawyer could seek compensation for medical bills and lost income during pretrial negotiations or by striving to convince a jury of a company's responsibility.

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