Fires and Fuel Tank Explosions
Car Fires and SUV Gas/Fuel Tank Explosions Should Not Occur
Manufacturers of cars, trucks, limousines, and SUVs have a legal responsibility to drivers and passengers to produce safe vehicles and ensure the protection of the driver and passengers in the event of an accident. Auto makers must pay particular attention to the danger posed by the fuel tank exploding or fuel spilling and catching fire. Numerous safety regulations exist to reduce the likelihood of fires occurring after vehicle crashes.
It is Lieff Cabraser’s belief that no one should suffer a burn injury if the vehicle has been properly manufactured. When the driver or occupants survive the crash but are killed in a post-crash fire, there should be a thorough investigation as to whether defects in the design and placement of gas tank, or other defects in the vehicle, led to the fatal fire.
Likely Causes of Car Fires and SUV Fuel Tank Explosions
The most widely publicized fuel system defect was in the Ford Pinto, which was recalled in 1978 after 27 people died in fires following rear-end collisions. In the Pinto, the gas tank was positioned in the vulnerable location of behind the rear axle.
Accidents involving General Motors pick-up trucks, with a “side-saddle” or saddlebag fuel tank also led to many fatalities, as alleged in burn injury lawsuits. The gas tanks were located outside the frame rail. As with the Pinto, the position of the gas tanks in the GMC pick-ups resulted in fires and explosions during a collision.
As noted by Consumer Reports, after the Ford Pinto safety scare in the 1970s, manufacturers moved to placing most fuel tanks in less vulnerable locations than behind the rear axle. Based on a 1993 a study of fire-related deaths among 1977-1989 models published by the American Journal of Public Health, this effort had a substantial effect on reducing deaths.
However, gas tanks positioned behind the rear axle can still be found in millions of used vehicles on the road, including certain models of the Ford Mustang, Ford Crown Victoria, Jeep Grand Cherokee, and Jeep Liberty, as well as new cars and SUVs sold today, in America. In addition to the location of the gas tank, fuel tank defects may consist of flaws in:
- the material from which the tank is constructed, and
- the actual construction of the tank including improper welds; or
- the failure to adequately shield the tank to ensure it is not crushed in an accident.
Dangerous Cars Even With A “Safe” Fuel Tank
A fuel tank may be properly constructed, but the vehicle can still pose a safety hazard. For example, if metal rods and brackets are positioned near or around the fuel tank, these sharp objects can pierce and ignite the fuel tank during a collision.
Another risk can come from the fuel lines linking the tank to the engine. In particular, fuel-injected engines require fuel to travel through fuel lines at high pressure. Due to the high pressures involved, even a small compromise in a fuel line can result in a large amount of fuel escaping from the fuel system.
The lines within the car carrying fuel should be designed in a manner that seals off in accident. Fuel-injected engines require fuel to travel through fuel lines at high pressure. If the fuel lines do not seal off, any fire can become much more dangerous and even fatal as gasoline in the fuel tank may leak down the line and “feed” the fire. Due to the high pressures involved, even a small compromise in a fuel line can result in a large amount of fuel escaping from the fuel system.
Likewise, most fuel-injected engines have electric fuel pumps. It is critical that these pumps shut off in the event of a collision. If a fuel pump does not shut off following a collision, the pump will continue to circulate gasoline through the fuel system, providing a constant source of fuel for any resulting fire.
Contact SUV and Car Fire | Gas Tank Explosions Lawyers | Attorneys
Lieff Cabraser has successfully represented clients across America in car fire injury lawsuits and obtained significant, confidential settlements for our clients. Without charge or obligation, we will investigate your fire or burn injury case involving any type of car, SUV or pickup. All information will be held confidential. Please click here to contact an auto injury attorney at Lieff Cabraser.
Alternatively, you may call us toll-free at 1-800-541-7358 and ask to speak to auto injury attorney Fabrice Vincent.