Automobile companies have a responsibility to ensure that the vehicles they produce are both safe to drive and provide a reasonable amount of protection to its occupants in the event of a collision. The design of the vehicle should be one that does not add to the possibility of injury or further damage after an accident. Unfortunately, there have been numerous instances throughout history where this basic premise has been ignored or gone unnoticed until it has been too late. Defective fuel systems can cause Post Collision Fuel Fed Fires (PCFFF) resulting in severe pain, disfigurement, serious burns, and in some cases, even death.
The standards for fuel system safety are established by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, but that does not prevent poor designs and defects into the market place in all instances. Chevrolet has been no stranger to vehicles with defective fuel systems with known problems stemming from some of their more popular models; including C/K trucks, Chevettes, and El Caminos. In 1992, a fuel fed fire from a C/K truck resulted in a 105 million dollar verdict, and there have been many other successful lawsuits since then regarding the same type of incident. GM was found guilty of fraud and concealing evidence as a result of a lawsuit that was filed after a post collision fire involving a Chevette. It was proven that GM was aware of the default and actually conducted a cost benefit analysis of addressing the problem and chose not to act upon the information.
Types of Defective Fuel Systems
Defective fuel systems can take on many different forms. Sometimes the problem lies with the location of the fuel tank itself, as were the cases with the infamous Ford Pinto and GM Saddleside Trucks. Sometimes the problem lies with the location of the fuel tank which causes it to rupture on impact. Other times, the issue revolves around the placement of the fuel tank in proximity to other components of the vehicle which can puncture the gas tank upon impact. Failure to properly protect the tank’s integrity upon impact as a result of limited or non-existent protection is another common flaw. Other causes of fuel leaks result from fuel pumps that run continuously and fail to stop the flow of gasoline after a collision. Weak hose connections can also leak after an accident, providing an ongoing flow of gasoline which could start or feed an existing fire after an auto accident.
Your Legal Option
While the cause of an accident can stem from numerous factors, the introduction of a fire or explosion should be cause for an investigation after the fact. Poorly designed or poorly engineered fuel systems may be the cause of additional injury, suffering, or even death in the event of an accident. If you, or anyone you know, have been in an accident which involved a fire, it is advised that you contact an attorney that specializes in lawsuits resulting from defective fuel systems.