Who is Liable for a Fuel System Fire in a Car Accident?
Written by AskTheLawyers.com™ on behalf of Daniel J. Sherry Jr. with Eisenberg, Rothweiler, Winkler, Eisenberg & Jeck, P.C..
Fires are not uncommon at the scene of a car accident; between friction, engine heat, and a myriad of flammable substances often present in a vehicle and motor vehicle accident, fires are a significant risk, especially when fuel gets involved. Fuel fed fires are one of the biggest risks associated with car accidents and can result in catastrophic burn injuries and permanent disfigurement, not to mention excessive pain and a grueling recovery.
The necessity of a fuel system with proper structural integrity in the event of an accident cannot be undervalued; this is why auto makers are required to follow strict guidelines when designing and manufacturing this part of the vehicle. If the fuel system is damaged in an accident, resulting in a fuel fed fire, it is possible that the fuel system was defective to begin with, making the vehicle manufacturer liable for any resulting burn injuries.
Fuel system fires typically occur when the system is damaged in an accident.
The fuel system of a vehicle is multi-faceted, including the fuel tank, pump, filter, injectors, and more. These parts all help deliver the necessary fuel to the engine in order to power the vehicle. However, the gasoline and other fuel used to power motor vehicles is typically quite flammable, requiring immense structural integrity and safeguards in the event of a collision to prevent a damaged fuel system from feeding a post-collision fire. A small fire that might have been relatively minor or would not have occurred at all without the presence of fuel can be badly exacerbated when the fuel system is damaged, leading to intense blazes and even explosions that often result in catastrophic permanent injuries and even deaths for the unfortunate victims of the fuel system defect.
Vehicle manufacturers and/or parts manufacturers may be found liable for fuel system fires.
The liable party in an auto defect claim is often determined by establishing who was responsible for designing, manufacturing, and testing the defective piece in question. In most cases, the vehicle manufacturer is considered liable for defective car parts and any injuries and/or damages that occur as a result. However, the vehicle manufacturer may not be the only liable party; it is not uncommon for auto part manufacturers to also be considered liable, in which case the injured party may also be eligible to receive compensation from the manufacturer of the negligent parts as well. Unfortunately, identifying and proving the defect in a vehicle’s fuel system after the fact can be tricky; it typically requires help from product liability experts as well as accident reconstructionists to determine when, where, and how the defect caused or contributed to the fuel system fire.
Burn injuries are unique in the field of personal injury law.
It’s important to keep in mind that every injury is different; burn injuries are considered particularly severe as they often result in long-term and even permanent damage. In the event of permanent scarring or disfigurement, the injured party may be eligible to seek compensation for these specific damages whereas accident victims with other injuries typically cannot. Burn injuries also typically require intensive medical care as well as future therapy, both physical and psychological. These damages and any other expenses or losses both economic and non-economic caused by a fuel system fire may be compensated in an auto defect lawsuit if the damages can be linked to an established defect.
This is why it is highly recommended to reach out to an auto defect attorney in your area if you suspect that your injuries in a car accident were caused or contributed to by some kind of defect, such as a faulty fuel system. These attorneys know how to quickly identify the presence of a defect as well as what kind of evidence will be needed to prove it, and who to hold accountable for the victim’s damages. Like most personal injury lawyers, car part defect attorneys typically offer free consultations and even work on contingency, which means clients don’t pay unless and until they win. This allows accident victims and their families to focus on healing and recovery rather than worrying about another bill.
To learn more about fuel system fires in a car accident, or for help investigating your own claim, reach out to an experienced auto part defect attorney in your area.