If you drive, there is a nearly 100 percent chance that you’ve received a recall notice in the mail. It’s a pain, but it usually doesn’t cost you anything but time and you feel better knowing the company that made your car is looking out for you. Or you would feel pretty good until you learned about how frequently product liability lawsuits are kept secret.

In December of 2017, the federal government revealed that it is investigating Goodyear for tires installed on motorhomes from 1996-2003. The tires, apparently, could not withstand temperatures associated with driving under normal conditions on the highway and would then blow-out. Accidents from those blow-outs lead to 13 injuries and one death. Goodyear was sued over the design flaw, but those lawsuits were all kept secret from the public.

Secret settlements make safety difficult

The push to keep settlements a secret is nothing new when it comes to product liability cases. It’s only natural that a company would want to keep their quiet so that they can work to fix it. The problem with that line of thinking is that it puts a lot of faith in companies to do the right thing, rather than the cheap thing.

Keeping a product liability issue a secret after a court settlement has three consequences:

  • Public unawareness: A secret settlement in the end mostly benefits the company being sued. There is no pressure placed on a company like Goodyear to make improvements to their products and thus they may continue to produce faulty and dangerous goods.
  • People are put in danger: If there is never any pressure to change, companies can find it simpler to keep the status quo. That could mean products, such as the tires used every day, could still be sold with significant flaws.
  • Delays the inevitable: Nothing stays quiet indefinitely. Between the internet, twitter and whistleblowers, everything comes out eventually. Keeping a secret is only ever going to be a delaying tactic. More people get hurt and it costs more to fix the problem.

You want to know what you have

If you rely on the car you drive or the tools you use, then you want to be one hundred percent sure that you’re protected and you have the best working products available. If you can’t trust that the tools you buy are safe and functional, then how are you going to provide for your family?