The accident in July 1988 happened as the Carroll family, of Grove, Oxfordshire, were travelling on the M4 near Swindon in an Austin Princess. A rear tyre on a Ford Cortina - containing five people - blew out and the car mounted the central reservation before smashing into the Carrolls' car. Lolita Barclay, 14, from Bristol, a passenger in the Cortina, was killed.
The Carroll family's lawyer claimed that the Dunlop SP4 165 radial tyre which blew had a manufacturing fault, and that a huge section of tread flew off because of inadequate bonding of rubber to steel cords below the tread. The dead girl's family and the injured sued Dunlop at the High Court in Oxford.
Susan Carroll, who suffered severe head injuries and was left with partial sight, is to receive pounds 550,000, her husband Alan pounds 22,000, daughter Catherine pounds 15,000 and son Stephen, now aged 17, pounds 10,000. The out-of-court settlement with the Carrolls was agreed yesterday, and Judge Kenneth Wilson-Mellor will deliver his formal judgment on Monday.
SP Tyres UK Ltd, which took over Dunlop Ltd's UK tyre business in 1985, said the tyre involved was made in early 1981 by Dunlop, stressing it had not been involved in the litigation and the tyre was manufactured well before it took over Dunlop UK business.
"The size and type of tyre concerned became obsolete almost 10 years ago. However, many millions were produced and have given perfectly satisfactory service across the world," the company said in a statement. "We have no reason to believe, therefore, that this accident was anything other than a tragic and extraordinary occurrence."
The Carrolls' solicitor, Michael Berrett, said the family was too upset to comment: "No amount of compensation will compensate for the wrecked family life. And because liability has not been admitted, it hasn't been possible to get an interim payment, therefore they've been left out in the cold for eight years while this litigation has gone on."