If you or a loved one experienced a fuel tank fire or explosion, contact the law offices of Burg Simpson, because you may be entitled to compensation.

A fuel tank explosion isn't something we expect to happen outside of action movies, but hundreds of people are injured or killed in vehicle fires every year. These accidents happen to regular people all across our nation in cars they rely on to get them to and from the places they need to go each day. Read on to find out more about these terrible accidents and what your options are if you or a loved one has been involved in a fuel tank explosion accident.

Causes of Fuel Tank Fires

Fuel tank fires usually happen after a fuel tank or fuel line ruptures during the initial impact. This is generally due to a defect within the vehicle or fuel tank. Here are some examples:

  • Fuel tank positioning: Fuel tanks should be positioned in front of a vehicle's rear axle. This placement is crucial to shielding the flammable fumes from reacting in the event of a crash. Positioning the fuel tank elsewhere increases the risk of rupture during an accident.
  • Defective construction: When manufacturers construct fuel tanks, they should be using materials that minimize the potential for fire or explosion. Fuel cell barriers and anti-puncture shields can literally be a lifesaver in an accident. However, some automakers have failed to use these protective materials in the construction of gas tanks and have knowingly put drivers and passengers at risk.
  • Ruptured fuel lines: The fuel line connects the gas tank to the engine, and when one ruptures, it can disrupt the transfer of fuel, which vastly increases the risk of ignition. Ruptured fuel lines are one of the most common causes of vehicle fires and explosions.
  • Punctured gas tanks: When a fuel tank is punctured, the fuel stored inside can leak. Leaked fuel can ignite even if there hasn't been a collision, but if the impact of a crash is severe enough to puncture a tank, it can easily cause the fuel to combust and catch fire or explode.

Defective Fuel Systems

Most fuel tank fires and explosions are caused by defective fuel systems. Vehicle manufacturers have a responsibility to make sure their products are safe for consumers, and when they fail to ensure the safety of their fuel tanks, deadly accidents can happen.

We expect these systems to work under normal conditions, but it is equally important that fuel systems don't fail in the event of a collision. If the fuel tank cannot withstand the impact of an accident, it puts everyone inside the vehicle at risk of suffering catastrophic injuries such as burns, lung damage, and death.

There have been more than a few instances of car manufacturers failing to properly build, maintain, or test their vehicles and their safety features before releasing them to the public. Their negligent actions led to numerous deaths and even more injuries.

What vehicles have a higher risk of fuel system defects?

No vehicle manufacturer is free from some kind of fuel system defect, but most have caught the defect before sending it out to the public or take extreme care to issue recalls and repairs if a defect is later detected. However, there are a couple of vehicles that became well known for the frequency with which they had fuel tank explosions:

Crown Victoria

Crown Victorias are almost synonymous with law enforcement, as it was the most popular police car for decades. However, reports of the cars exploding after a collision opened the Crown Victoria up to controversy.

The stories first emerged in the late 1990s, claiming that Crown Victorias were exploding, especially after rear-end collisions. This was due to the poor placement of the fuel tank, located behind the rear axle, and thus in a vulnerable position to be crushed if hit from the back.

At least 30 law enforcement officers have died in Crown Victoria related fires since 1983. Ford Motor Company, the creator of the Crown Vic, allegedly knew of the flawed fuel system but did not do anything until 2003, when they began to sell trunk packs as an add-on for law enforcement vehicles. These packs were designed to shield the gas tank from items in a trunk that might puncture the tank during a rear-end collision. However, the fires continued to happen.

In 2005, Ford finally introduced an anti-fire device for their vehicles. These proved to be helpful in low-impact collisions, but it did not stop the explosions from happening during serious collisions.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration ran an investigation on the Crown Victorias in the early 2000s, but were unable to find a clear defect in the fuel system. In the next ten years, several more officers died in fiery accidents inside their Crown Vics.

Ford stopped making the Crown Victoria in 2011, but there are still many of these cars on the road, and a frightening number of them never received the safety upgrades meant to keep drivers safe in collisions.

If you happen to own or often drive a Crown Victoria, we recommend looking into whether or not it has been fitted with an anti-fire device for your own safety. If you've been involved in an automobile accident involving a Crown Victoria, call one of the attorneys at Burg Simpson to learn about your legal options.

Ford Pinto

In the late 1960s, the popularity of compact cars rose exponentially as Japanese imports promised quality vehicles for a cheap price. Ford Motor Company caught on to the trend and rushed to design a compact, affordable car designed for everyday Americans.

Unfortunately, in their rush to compete with Japanese manufacturers, Ford forwent their usual production measures so that they could release the Ford Pinto in 1971. They had knowledge of upcoming standards by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NGTSA), but those weren't to be applied until 1972. The new standards would require new vehicles to be able to withstand a rear-end collision of 20 miles per hour without any fuel loss. The Pinto failed that standard, as was demonstrated in crash tests, but Ford released it anyway. They knew that the Pinto presented a serious fire hazard if it was struck from behind, even in low-speed collisions, but it would cost them time and money to make the Pinto safe, and those were two things Ford wasn't ready to sacrifice. They determined that it would cost between $5 and $8 per vehicle to apply safety measures that would vastly reduce the chances of a fuel tank rupture, and it would simply be cheaper for them to deal with any kind of legal fall out than to pay to make their cars safer.

Between 1971 and 1978, the Pinto was responsible for at least 23 fire-related deaths. Although, that number was provided by Ford, and critics say the figure is actually into the hundreds. Engineers working for Ford have stated that 95% of those fatalities would have been prevented had Ford simply moved the fuel tank from its location behind the rear axle, to in front of it.

In 1976, the NHTSA finally changed the standard of vehicle fuel tanks to be able to take an impact of 30 miles per hour without tank rupture. Ford obliged, and the Pinto was equipped with a rupture proof tank. Ford also recalled all the previous models of the Pinto, but in a time before the internet, many Pinto owners never received the recall.

The fatalities caused by the Ford Pinto are horrific. There are many instances of very minor accidents turning into a blazing fire that consumed the car and those inside. One such happened in 1978 and involved three teenage girls that were rear-ended by a van while driving their 1973 Pinto. The Pinto's gas tank exploded on impact and the three girls were burned to death. There were already more than 50 lawsuits filed against Ford regarding the Pinto at the time.

The Ford Pinto is not the only vehicle to face legal trouble for their negligent production. Safety standards have improved over the decades, and the automobile industry is taking more responsible measures to ensure the safety of their vehicles. However, while it is less common than it used to be, vehicle manufacturers may still take shortcuts to keep up with competition and maximize profit. If you've ever experienced an accident where the fuel tank ruptured, it is time to call a fuel tank explosion attorney.

Injuries Associated With Fuel Tank Rupture

Injuries associated with a fuel tank explosion are rarely minor. There have been many cases where a collision has caused minor injuries but has turned deadly after a fuel tank ignites, trapping injured victims inside a vehicle as it is engulfed in flames. This can cause serious burn injuries, injuries from flying shrapnel, organ failure due to breathing in toxic fumes, and even death. Adding insult to injury, the fact is that at least 21% of highway vehicle fires are caused by defective equipment, which is entirely preventable. Furthermore, nearly a quarter of all highway vehicle fires have no determined cause following an investigation, so it is likely that the number of accidents caused by defective equipment is much higher.

Recovery from these injuries can be lifelong and may leave you with severe scarring or disfigurement. They can affect your job, your family, and your quality of life. If you've been injured in a car accident due to a faulty fuel system, Burg Simpson knows how to help you take steps to start getting your life back.


Determining liability after a fuel tank explosion is not always an easy thing to accomplish. If your accident was caused by another driver, you will be able to file a claim with that driver's insurance. However, if your fuel tank exploded, there will need to be an investigation into whether or not the accident was caused by the negligence of the vehicle's manufacturer. Even if you were at fault for the accident, you may be able to seek compensation from the manufacturer. This will likely be difficult to determine on your own, so your fuel tank explosion attorney can help you through the investigation.


If you've been injured in an accident involving a fuel tank explosion, you may be entitled to compensation for the following damages:

  • Medical bills: Treatment for burns and other injuries can be incredibly expensive. Treatment is costly, and you shouldn't have to pay for injuries someone else inflicted on you.
  • Lost wages: If you are forced to miss work to recover from your injuries, you may be able to be compensated for your lost wages.
  • Reduced income capacity: Some injuries are lifelong and affect your ability to do your job or climb the corporate ladder. This loss of income capacity can be included in your damages.
  • Pain and suffering: There is no dollar sign attached to pain and suffering, but you can absolutely be compensated for it. Speak to your attorney to learn what you may be entitled to.
  • Property damage: If your fuel tank exploded, you likely no longer have a car. You can be compensated for your loss of property.
  • Wrongful death: If you lost a family member in an accident, you may be entitled to compensation for funeral costs and more.
  • Punitive damages: These are sometimes awarded to the defendant as a way to punish the liable party for their negligence.

How a Fuel Tank Explosion Attorney Can Help

Filing an insurance claim in normal circumstances can be stressful. Filing a claim after a fuel tank explosion can be daunting because of the many potential complexities. Hiring an attorney after your accident can be extremely beneficial, as we can take care of all of the following:

  • Investigating the accident: After a fuel tank explosion, the accident needs to be fully investigated to determine what happened and who is responsible for your injuries.
  • Gathering evidence: Our attorneys can visit the scene, take photos, speak with eyewitnesses, and gather important documentation regarding the accident.
  • Filing your insurance claim: After determining who is at fault, we can file the claim for you so you can focus on your recovery.
  • Negotiating with insurance companies: Insurance companies are very skilled in minimizing the amount of money they will pay you to financially recover from an accident. Negotiations can be difficult and time consuming, but we are highly skilled and resourceful in holding insurance companies accountable to make absolutely sure you receive the settlement you deserve.
  • Taking your claim to court: Sometimes insurance companies won't budge, and in these cases we can take your claim to court. We will also represent you if a manufacturer is responsible for your fuel tank explosion.

Contact a Fuel Tank Explosion Attorney

No one expects to leave home and have their fuel tank explode. But, unfortunately, it does happen. You may be facing severe injuries and growing medical bills, as well as insurance claims and looming lawsuits. We know it's not easy to handle it all. Let the experienced fuel tank explosion attorneys at Burg Simpson take care of the legal headache so that you can focus on your recovery.

Contact us today for a free consultation.
Burg Simpson is a prestigious national law firm helping clients across the United States.  With over 100 years of combined experience, our team stands ready to represent you and make certain you receive the compensation you deserve
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