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.
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:
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.
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 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.
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 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:
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:
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.