Car Fires – Auto Product Defect Attorneys

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After a car crash, it can be difficult to understand what exactly went wrong. Many victims are left searching for answers. While there may be a variety of factors that lead to the crash, when there is fire involved, the cause can often be traced to vehicle electrical fires and auto defects. If you’ve been injured in a vehicle fire, out Texas auto product defect attorneys can help.

The dangers of car fires are receiving more attention as defects are appearing more often and are discovered in a wide variety of brands. Each year, the United States experiences around 190,000 car fires. These fires result in about 300 deaths with over 1,200 injuries to passengers and drivers.

What Is a Car Fire?

A car fire is where a car essentially bursts into flames on its own without being intentionally set on fire. When they do occur, car fires are extremely dangerous. Car fires are often a result of fuel leaking from the gas tank of a car. Fuel-fed car fires can become very intense and can lead to parts of the car exploding. This kind of fire frequently causes serious injury or death to both drivers and passengers.

How Do Fuel-Fed Car Fires Happen?

There are a number of reasons why a car fire occurs. They can be the result of wear and tear on the car or defective design by the manufacturer. More commonly, fuel-fed car fires are the result of an automobile accident. Since fuel-fed car fires are such a dangerous risk, automobile manufacturers must follow strict safety guidelines. If the manufacturer fails to follow these safety guidelines, then it opens itself up to automotive products liability.

Common Causes of a Car Fire

Over the years, automakers learned what causes automotive fires. Many times, ignoring the dangers, they continue to sell defective cars and trucks to unsuspecting consumers. Some of the common causes of car fires include:

  • Poor placement of fuel tanks
  • Side-saddled tanks, placed outside a vehicle’s frame
  • Tanks placed between a car’s bumper and its axel
  • Defective or ineffective fuel line materials
  • Improperly-designed emergency shut-off values
  • Cruise control malfunctions
  • Faulty gas tank designs

Car Fires: Electrical Fires

Many electric, battery-powered cars have come under scrutiny for battery malfunctions. Some hybrid car batteries, upon impact, can ignite – not unlike what would happen to any other type of battery under pressure.

Electric fires in cars are usually due to human error. Examples include:

  • Batteries installed incorrectly
  • Starters installed incorrectly – e.g. missing heat shields or loose wiring
  • Stereos and off-road lighting on trucks not installed correctly
  • High voltage connections left loose

Car Fires: Fuel Tank Fires

Vehicle fires in these cases start, for the most part, at the fuel rail where we find the fuel injectors and fuel pressure, regulators. These two components have O-rings that wear out with time and from dry heat.

Fuel injectors and fuel pressure regulators are under pressure – once a cracked or broken O-ring starts leaking while a car is running, a fuel drip or an active fuel spray will occur.

All it takes is for that fuel source to come into contact with an ignition source – we already have oxygen in the area – and we have an environment which can create an active fire.

The ignition source to complete the formula for the fire could come from a spark plug wire or an ignition coil that has deteriorated with age and is sparking, or it could be from fuel dripping on the exhaust manifold where temperatures are extreme.

The design of a vehicle in relation to the fuel tank location has been a long-standing issue among auto manufacturers. Where a fuel tank is located is vital to protecting vehicle occupants from fire dangers associated with explosions and damage to the tank during a collision. Some of the causes of defective vehicle fuel systems include:

  • Poor fuel tank design
  • Vulnerable fuel tank location, near parts that could potentially puncture
  • Defective fuel lines
  • Poor fuel line design, increasing the risk for leaking

In one of the most famous cases of a defective fuel tank, Ford designed the Pinto with a tank located on the rear of the vehicle, behind the axle. The location of the fuel tanks proved dangerous as reports of vehicle fires in relation to rear-collisions increased.

While it can be easy to look at the mere location of a fuel tank tied to damages incurred in a car accident, it is also important for auto manufacturers to look closely at hazards near the tank location, which could damage and puncture the auto equipment, such as screws.

Though the location of a fuel tank is an important aspect of making cars safer and protecting occupants from defective equipment related to vehicle fires during an accident, the composition of the tank itself is an equally vital safety factor.

Living with Burn Injuries After a Car Fire

Victims of post-collision fires, if they survive, will likely live their lives with serious scarring, nerve damage and even loss of limbs. Burn victims often have to relearn how to perform everyday activities such as getting dressed and eating. The severity of the lifetime effects will depend upon the degree of the burn. Burn degrees range from first to fourth, with fourth being the most severe. First degree burns are similar to sunburns and typically heal within one week or less, while fourth-degree burns can necessitate amputation since the burn protruded all the way into the subcutaneous tissue.

Alternative Safer Design

To be successful in a fuel system and car fire case, we will need to establish that there existed a reasonable and safer alternative design that an automaker failed to utilize. As the result of this failure, a car fire injured you or a family member. Many car fires are preventable with a few simple modifications that the auto industry fails to implement.

Auto Product Liability Attorneys in Texas

Manufacturers and retailers of defective auto equipment and vehicles must be held responsible for the electrical fires, fuel tank explosions and equipment failure that may have been prevented with proper attention, care and notification. At The Carlson Law Firm, our Texas auto product liability attorneys advocate for injured clients, offering valuable resources, information and guidance for those who have been involved in a car accident in Waco, Killeen, Temple, Austin, San Antonio and Laredo. We understand the hardships associated with the loss of a loved one, mounting medical bills and lost time at work.

Contact one of our Texas auto product liability attorneys today.


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