By Scott D. Kagan
Motor vehicle fuel fires are far more common than one would imagine. Despite motor vehicle manufacturer preparation, motor vehicle accidents often result in fuel fed fires caused by defective fuel systems that fail to contain the fuel during a collision.
One of the most common known risks of fuel fed fires is tank location. Just recently the United States government asked Chrysler to recall nearly 3 million Jeeps due to known fire risks. The risk was a result of fuel tank positioning behind the rear axle; a terrible and negligent design concept with no justification.
Vehicle manufacturers are again under scrutiny as a result of long term knowledge regarding tank positioning behind the rear axle as a cause of concern. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has correlated 51 deaths as a result of fires caused by gas leaking from punctured gas tanks in rear end crashes. A 1993 study of fire related deaths from '77 to '89 concluded that relocating tanks had a substantial effect on the reduction of fire deaths. Despite this knowledge, Chrysler willingly placed a car into commerce with negligent fuel tank placement behind the rear axle. This calls into question the integrity and reliability of the manufacturers.
It is not always location that causes fuel fed fires. Design defects related to fuel fed fires can involve several different vehicle systems. Other design issues include: fuel filler cap design, fuel line design, fuel tank design, and fuel pump design. There are certain design criteria known to manufacturers for years that in essence would make for optimal fuel tank safety.
Despite this knowledge Manufacturers don't always follow the guidelines, often leading to fuel fed fires that seemingly can be avoided. If you or someone you know has been injured as a result of a fuel fed fire, please contact our firm. We have vast experience dealing with automobile product liability cases.