In 2009, a Senator from Wisconsin introduced much needed legislation to make tire defect information public. The objective of this bill is to shine light on both court rulings and out-of-court settlements that have had little or no publicity. Without public notifications, these potentially dangerous tires continue to pose a threat to unsuspecting consumers. Although the public generally hears about the most well known tire defects, a surprising large percentage of tire defects and the injuries that they have already caused go virtually unnoticed. The hidden danger for consumers is enormous!
The "Sunshine Act in Litigation" will require courts to put public safety first when deciding on claims against the manufacturers of defective tires. Without this legislation, the courts can (and currently do) issue a protective order that keeps consumers and consumer advocacy groups from accessing vital information about defective tires. The courts also have the right to seal the records of these court cases, thus keeping people who already own the defective tires from finding out that they are at risk daily. Of course, unless the courts and the federal government mandate a tire recall, the manufacturers could also continue to sell the tires to more unwitting consumers.
The Sunshine Act in Legislation will make it possible for consumers to have updated information about accidents and damages linked to all defective tires, whether they have been recalled or not. In many cases, years pass while damage claims wind their way through the legal system. The Bridgestone/Firestone tread separation lawsuits started in 1992. However, the courts allowed many of these lawsuits to be settled in secrecy. The manufacturer did not issue a recall until 1999 when a TV station reported the problem. By then, 250 people had died and more than 800 had been injured.
Do not wait for Congress to enact legislation to protect consumers from secret court settlements. You and your loved ones could become victims of defective tires simply because you do not have access to information that you deserve to have. You cannot protect yourself and your family until you know that a problem exists. You can file a complaint with the NHTSA when defective tires play any part in an accident that causes injuries or damages to your to your vehicle. When you suspect that defective tires caused your losses, you must also consult a personal injury attorney.