Issues Concerning Potential Fuel Tank Explosion Injuries

When you get into a car, you think about checking your oil, water, gas, and tires. Rarely would the thought of the placement of the fuel tank be a matter of concern. However, for some car owners, this may be of primary importance.

Design defects in cars have lately been prominent because of the alarming number of cars from General Motors that experienced ignition switch-related accidents, resulting in at least 13 deaths and numerous injuries. Design defects in fuel tank placement, on the other hand, was last the subject of litigation in 1972 when the lack of protective reinforcement between the fuel tank and differential in the Ford Pinto (1971-1980) was alleged to have caused a deadly gas-fueled fire after a rear collision (Grimshaw v. Ford Motor Co.).

While the fuel tank did not precisely explode in that particular case, the resulting fire was devastating. It resulted in severe burns and eventual death of the driver and permanent, disfiguring burns over the entire body of a 13-year-old passenger, which required multiple skin-graft surgeries to repair. In the ensuing product liability case, the explosion lawyer representing the victims was able to prove that Ford was aware of the potential for danger because of the car’s design but did nothing to remedy it. The California courts eventually awarded compensatory damages ($2.5 million) and punitive damages ($3.5 million) to the plaintiffs.

More recently, investigations are ongoing regarding the potential for danger over the placement of the fuel tank behind the rear axle of the Jeep Grand Cherokee (1993 to 2004 models). So far, 72 deaths by fuel tank fire have been associated with 51 accidents with the relevant car models. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) looked into the matter and concluded that there appeared to be a higher incidence of fuel tank fires with rear end collisions with the Grand Cherokee than comparative models.

Injuries sustained from fuel tank explosions may very well be the result of someone else’s negligence. In these instances, the negligent party should be help responsible and financial compensation may be available.

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