Any motor vehicle crash can be a frightening experience. But, when your car or truck erupts into flames, it becomes even more of a dire emergency. When is fire actually a risk after a motor vehicle crash?
We have already provided you with some statistics regarding post-collision fire accidents. An annual average estimate of fatalities involving car accident fires topples 29,000 deaths. That number does not even include people who survived but were severely burned. Obviously, burns are among the most painful and permanent injuries. But, do you know why fire can occur as a result of a motor vehicle crash?
Post-Collision Fuel-Fed Fires
Even with the slow rise of electric cars, the majority of cars and trucks on the road today run on fuel. One of the reasons some vehicles are more susceptible to fire may actually be a manufacturer’s defect. For example, gas tank placement for the now extinct Ford Pinto caused it to catch fire. According to the Center for Auto Safety, Ford actually recalled vehicles because of fuel tank defect designs. There were problems with the strap on the gas tanks. If a Pinto was struck from behind at even a moderate speed, there was a high chance that it could cause a fire.
You might be tempted to say that was then. You don’t see many Pintos on today’s highways. However, the location of the fuel tank can still be an issue. There continue to be many General Motors’ pickups on the road. Allegations concerning their “side-saddle” gas tanks have resulted in lawsuits and case settlements for wrongful death and severe fire-related injuries.
There can also be issues with fuel line defects that can lead to post-collision fuel fed fires. The chance of them breaking or coming apart from where they are connected increases the risk for fuel exposure. Unfortunately, fuel leakage is a major concern in any collision. In particular, fuel on the hot engine is a lethal combination.
The good news is that the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) reports that only two percent of car fires were related to faulty fuel tanks or fuel line defects according to the point of origin.
Fire After a Motor Vehicle Crash
We all know that gasoline is extremely flammable. But, it needs an ignition point to get started. It’s not likely that someone is lighting a match to leaking fuel. However, the crash itself can cause damage that results in the fire. A collision can create the spark that ignites the fuel. It may come from the car’s electrical system.
Vehicles that rollover or overturn are at a high risk for fire. In some cases, a truck may be carrying flammable fuel that adds to the possibility of an eruption of flames. Mechanical and maintenance issues all have been attributed to a fire caused by a motor vehicle accident.
A person may suffer only minor injuries from a collision. However, if the crash causes a fire, the damages are far worse. Death is an obvious consequence. Obviously, victims may suffer burn injuries, as well as exposure to toxic vapors and gasses. Respiratory and cardiac problems may occur as a result of smoke inhalation. In extreme cases, the outcome of burn injuries may be amputation.
If you or a loved one was involved in a motor vehicle accident that resulted in a post-collision fire, we can help. The de Lachica Law Firm has worked on many cases involving these types of circumstances. There is no charge to meet with us. Contact our office to set up an appointment.