What Car Defects Can Cause Car Fires?

When a vehicle catches fire after an accident the situation can rapidly turn life-threatening. The most common car defects associated with fires are fuel system or electrical system defects. Both electrical and fuel-fed fires are often caused by manufacturing or design defects.

Vehicles are not supposed to spontaneously combust, and if they do, very often this can be a sign of some form of defect. At the same time, vehicle fires are more common than we may believe; almost one out of every five reported fires in the United States involves one or more vehicles.

That is why the automotive industry is currently under scrutiny for the many design defects in their products that have led to multiple recalls on parts that have the potential to cause fires in the fuel system as well as in the engine compartment. Both electrical and fuel-fed fires are often caused by defective design choices in the automobile or truck at issue. If it is determined that the fire was caused by defective parts or design, the auto company is liable for the injuries that result.

Several main types of vehicle defects can result in fire and have fatal consequences for vehicle occupants:

  • Leaking fuel tanks and lines. All fuel tanks should be placed in front of vehicles’ rear axles and include fuel cell bladders and anti-puncture shields. It is essential to avoid brackets and other sharp objects in the area of the fuel tanks. Gasoline leaks from defective fuel tanks are the most common cause of vehicle fires, and poorly-routed or defective fuel lines may rupture during an accident. Even a small leak can quickly lead to a raging fire, and a single spark can ignite it. Leaking fuel, oil or other flammables can ignite when they are exposed to superheated metal or a spark. Many people are incognizant of the fact that aside the gasoline in their fuel tanks vehicles operate using six different flammable liquids and some of the components of the vehicle itself contain other flammable materials. Fuel-fed fires often begin under a vehicle or on the street surface below and spread quickly as leaking gasoline ignites.
  • Electrical system failures. Electrical fires usually begin in the dashboard or around it. Modern vehicles have a lot of wiring that may be damaged in a collision. A severe impact can sever wires and cables, causing sparks that ignite fuel or combustible fumes. Faulty wiring in ignition systems may short and spark fires.
  • Severe engine failures. Many car fires originate in the engine compartment.
  • A faulty battery may also be to blame. When a battery is not designed correctly, corrosion, which is highly flammable, may form on terminals.
  • Airbags may detonate and lead to explosions as well.
  • Mechanical defects. These may result in the unexpected ignition of flammable materials or an explosion under the hood, leading to car fires.

Motorists trapped inside a vehicle that is on fire may be at extreme risk of being injured, as these fires can reach the passenger cabin in little time. Even before the fire spreads, motorists may develop serious health issues because of toxic gases released from the fire.

While car fires may sometimes be the result of sheer accident, many are the responsibility of a car manufacturer, something which the lawyer at The Law Offices of Sean M. Cleary believes is important for all residents of Miami to know. When it is the fault of the car manufacturer, a victim of a car fire can often seek legal recourse and financial compensation from the manufacturer for their negligence.

How Can I Prevent My Car from Catching Fire?

As auto fires are mainly the result of traffic collisions or manufacturing defects, preventing them is rarely possible. However, certain measures can reduce the risks of being injured in such an event. Follow NFPA's (National Fire Protection Association) tips on how to prevent a car fire:

  • Ensure your vehicle is serviced regularly by a professionally trained mechanic
  • Check your vehicle if you spot leaks or the vehicle is not running properly
  • If you must transport gasoline, transport only a small amount in a certified gas can that is sealed and keep a window open for ventilation
  • Gas cans and propane cylinders should never be transported in the passenger compartment
  • Never park a car where flammables are touching the catalytic converter
  • Drive safely to avoid an accident

If you notice the following danger signs, take action immediately:

  • Cracked or loose wiring or electrical problems (a fuse that blows more than once)
  • Oil cap not on securely
  • Oil or fluid leaks
  • Rapid changes in engine temperature, in fuel or fluid level

A well-maintained vehicle is less likely to catch fire. Also, to considerably reduce the chances of being involved in auto fire, avoid smoking inside your car. Call our Miami office today for a free case evaluation and for legal representation.

What Common Injuries Are Sustained in Auto Fires?

When malfunctions cause car fires, people may sustain devastating injuries. Vehicle collision fires may result in the following severe injuries:

  • Burns. Vehicle accident burns occur when a person touches hot metal, coolant, or steam escaping from a damaged radiator. The most critical burns cause severe skin damage, long-term scarring, amputations, and even death. Severe burns may affect breathing, digestion, and other bodily functions as well. Injured people may need skin graft surgeries and pain management treatments.
  • Toxic exposure. Automotive fires often happen in the release of extremely toxic fumes as the vehicle burns, leading to respiratory problems and lung damage. The fumes from the toxic materials involved in the fire are highly deadly and these alone can claim a person's life.
  • Lacerations and other severe trauma. These injuries are caused by debris from an explosion.

All of these injuries are life-changing, require extensive and ongoing medical care - possibly involving surgical removal of the scar tissue - and a long and painful recovery to overcome.

Who Is Responsible for My Car Catching Fire and What Compensation Can I Recover?

An important thing to remember about vehicle fires in Florida is that each case occurs in different circumstances; so, we can only answer this question in general terms.

When car fires are related to negligent manufacturing designs or defects, car companies are responsible for resulting injuries. If car manufacturers fail to order recalls for dangerous issues or their products negatively impact the quality of life of customers, they can be held accountable. If another motorist caused the collision leading to the fire, the at-fault driver may also be liable for your medical bills, loss of income, and pain and suffering.

The auto product liability lawyer at The Law Offices of Sean M. Cleary is eager to review your claim and any concerns you may have about your accident. We have access to experts in medicine as well as accident reconstruction and we desire to review your case, hold accountable the responsible parties and ensure that you can face the financial burden of your recovery with the damages that we collect on your behalf.

If you were injured in a vehicle fire, you might face expensive medical care and a lack of income due to missed time from work. We are here to help you back onto your feet if you have suffered due to injuries caused by vehicle defects. Contact us today to set up a free consultation so that we can advise you on how to proceed.

For questions and free legal advice to help individuals please call us

Disclaimer: Please note that the information provided on this site is not formal legal advice, also the site does not allow you to form an attorney-client relationship.