Vehicle Fires

Burn injuries are the most devastating and debilitating injuries anyone can suffer. Life changes in an instant. When someone survives a car accident, there should be no reason they then become a victim of a vehicle fire or explosion.

Vehicles contain numerous flammable liquids at any given time, including 12-30 gallons of gasoline. One gallon of gasoline has the equivalent explosive power of six sticks of dynamite. Cars’ interiors are also constructed out of a number of flammable solids that can cause the car to catch fire during or after a car accident. While motor vehicle fuel safety systems are generally safe, design flaws related to vehicle fires are more common than you might think – every major car company has recalled at least one of their vehicles because of the dangers of a vehicle fire.

Causes of Vehicle Fires

Vehicle fires can be caused by electrical malfunctions, fuel tank location or by failures of the fuel lines or fuel tank. Electrical fires begin in or around the dashboard. Fires from faulty fuel lines or tanks start under the car or on the street below, and spread rapidly as leaking fuel ignites. Both types of fires are often the result of defective vehicle design or manufacturing defects.

Defects in tank and fuel lines include inadequate fuel line material, fuel lines without safety valves and defective fuel filler necks. In addition, bolts, screws and objects that can easily pierce the tank following a collision should not be exposed.

Infamous Vehicle Fire Recalls

Since 1966, when the government began recalling unsafe vehicles under the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act, 390 million vehicles have been recalled. A few of those recalls have involved vehicle defects so dangerous that they made national headlines for weeks or months.

From 1996 to 2010 Ford’s fire-prone, cruise control mechanisms prompted a widespread car recall of more than 20 models and nearly 15 million vehicles worldwide. But the worst Ford recall in American history came with the 1978 recall on the Ford Pinto, which led to years of bad press and the infamous phrase “a barbecue that seats four.”

GM once designed a pickup with a 20-gallon fuel tank on either side of the vehicle. Auto safety groups contended this made the trucks prone to exploding in a side-impact accident, as the tanks were directly exposed to a potential impact with another car. While GM refused to recall their trucks, they did settle with the DOT and allegedly paid millions in settlements to burn victims because of the vehicle defect. Even though no formal recall was ordered, Chevrolet trucks with side-saddle fuel tanks made headlines for years over their vehicle fire vulnerability after side-impact accidents.

Defective switches in Ford vehicles built by Texas Instruments forced a safety recall of 14.9 million cars and trucks  from 1991 to 2004. The vehicles had faulty cruise control deactivation switches that would short out and ignite.

The experienced trial lawyers at Craft Law Firm have handled numerous automotive vehicle fire cases under a variety of circumstances.  We have seen car fires caused by many different things including:

  • Exploding gas tanks
  • Faulty wiring
  • Gas leaks
  • Manufacturing defects
  • Poor fuel system design

If you or a loved on has been injured or worse, lost their life in a vehicle fire, contact the experienced auto product liability lawyers of Craft Law Firm. Our aggressive advocacy tactics have proven effective with motor vehicle manufacturers around the globe. Put our experience to work for you and your family. Contact us today.