While fires occur in about 0.1 percent of traffic accidents, they are the cause of fatalities in nearly three percent of accidents. Most fires in auto accidents begin when fuel from a vehicle contacts an ignition source. And one of the major causes of fuel leakage after a motor vehicle collision is a defective fuel system.
Fuel leakage that increases the risk of fire in auto accidents usually originates in ruptured fuel tanks and fuel lines. But there are many kinds of defects that can compromise the integrity of fuel systems, including:
- Poor placement of fuel tanks and fuel lines (especially tanks placed between an automobile's bumper and axel)
- Faulty and unprotected gas tank designs
- Defective or inadequate fuel line materials
- Defective welds
- Cruise control malfunctions
- Side-saddled tanks outside of the vehicle's, usually a truck's, frame
- Lack of, or poorly designed, emergency shut-off values
The importance of properly designed fuel systems became apparent to automakers in the 1950s. Some car manufacturers, however, continue to forego the safest fuel system designs to reduce manufacturing costs. As a result, hundreds of people continue to be killed annually in auto accident fires in the United States.
A successful defective fuel system case often requires establishing that a safer alternative design or manufacturing process could reasonably have been used, and that the failure to do so resulted in injuries or death. A few simple modifications to the fuel system is sometimes all it would have taken to prevent a fire in an auto accident. Most experts, for instance, agree that fuel tanks should generally be placed between the rear wheels of an automobile, with a puncture and fire resistant cover.
Fires in auto accidents often needlessly cause serious bodily injury and property damage. Auto manufacturers who ignore the danger of automotive fires and continue to sell defective vehicles should be held accountable. Unfortunately, sometimes only by doing so do needed safety measures get implemented.
Burn injuries suffered in a car accident fire may require painful skin grafts and long-term therapy that are a financial drain to the victim's family. If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a car accident fire, you may be entitled to compensation from those who designed or built a defective automotive fuel system. An experienced defective automobile injury attorney can help you obtain the financial compensation you and your family deserves.