Issue: Faulty manufacturing
Lieff Cabraser has been recognized by Law360, U.S. News, Best Lawyers, Benchmark Litigation, and the National Law Journal as one of the top plaintiffs’ law firms in the nation.
Dangerous Cars Even With “Safe” Fuel Tanks
Even a properly-constructed fuel tank can 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.
In addition, 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.
Car Fires and Fuel Tank Explosions Should Not Occur
Manufacturers of cars, trucks 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 auto crashes.
It is our 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 fuel tank, or other defects in the vehicle, led to the fatal fire.
Types of Fuel Tank Defects
The most widely publicized fuel system defects were the Ford Pinto and the General Motors “side-saddle” or saddlebag fuel tank pick-up truck cases in which the fuel tanks were located outside the frame rail. This design flaw led to the vehicles catching fire and exploding during a collision.
Fuel tank defects can be found in vehicles sold today in America. Fuel tank defects may consist of flaws in:
- the location of the tank on the vehicle,
- 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.
Gas Tank Explosion and Accident Lawsuits
Injured drivers and passengers, and the families of loved ones who have died in car, SUV, pickup truck and other vehicle accidents may bring claims against the manufacturers for producing a vehicle with an unreasonable risk of catching fire in an accident or collision.
Damages sought can include:
- Past and future physical pain and suffering, mental anguish and physical impairment;
- Past and future medical, incidental and hospital expenses;
- Past and future loss of earnings and earning capacity; and
- Punitive damages.
In cases of a fatality, the surviving family members may bring a wrongful death action.