A lawsuit by the family of a woman killed in an explosion after a crash alleges that the location of the fuel tank played a significant role in the tragedy. The driver of the 2004 Jeep Liberty burned to death after a rear end collision with a concrete truck. The impact caused the fuel tank, which is mounted in the rear, to leak and explode into flames, killing the driver immediately. The family of the deceased woman won a $150 million verdict against Fiat Chrysler.
Wrongful Death Claims
The wrongful death lawsuit filed against Fiat Chrysler alleges that the car maker acted negligently by: (i) putting the gas tank behind the rear axle, (ii) placing a trailer hitch in that area as protection for the gas tank, and (iii) producing a faulty seatback. The plaintiff maintains that the car would not have exploded and the woman might not have died had the gas tank been situated toward the middle rather than the rear of the car. The middle section of the car was relatively undamaged. Because the gas tank was situated behind the rear axle, the trailer hitch in the back ruptured the gas tank and caused the gas to leak out. In addition, the seat of the driver collapsed backward putting her head in close proximity to the fire in the rear.
Prior Knowledge of Defect
Everyone has known for years that placing gas tanks behind the rear axle of the car increases the risk of fire and death. See Defective Gas Tanks in 1992-2001 Crown Victoria. The plaintiff asserted that the car manufacturer knew about explosions of Ford Pintos dating back to the 1970s as a result of placing gas tanks in the rear of the cars. In addition, the automaker was touting the safety benefits of its Dodge vehicles in the mid-80s due to the mounting of gas tanks in the middle of the car. Chrysler reiterated the safety of its 1996 Dodge Caravans noting that the fuel tank was located in front of the rear suspension to protect against impacts from other vehicles and explosions. The automaker’s own testing corroborated these findings. Chrysler conducted crash tests on Jeeps which contained rear mounted gas tanks and determined that having a gas tank located only 11 inches from the rear presented a significant safety concern. Yet the automaker did not inform customers of the findings of its tests and took no action to rectify the problem.
Chrysler initiated a recall of 1.5 million vehicles due to the fuel tank problem in 2013 after increasing pressure from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The recall included a plan to install trailer hitches, but Chrysler acknowledged that the hitches only moderately decreased the risk of an explosion in a crash.
If you or a member of your family suffered injury or death as a result of negligence or a defective automobile, contact the attorneys Alexander Law Group, LLP. Our exceptional personal injury lawyers will answer your questions and get you the maximum compensation that is possible. Call 888.777.1776 or contact us online.