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Vehicle Fires and Explosions

These incidents may be more common than you think.  From 2008 to 2010, an estimated 194,000 highway vehicle fires occurred in the United States each year resulting in an annual average of approximately 300 deaths, 1,250 injuries and $1.1 billion in property loss. These highway vehicle fires accounted for 14 percent of fires responded to by fire departments across the nation. This according to the U.S. Fire Administration. If you have been injured in such a fire or explosion, we can help you obtain compensation for your injuries.

The Causes of Vehicle Fires

Vehicle fires can have many causes.  There may not be a single cause, but a number of factors contributing to the fire or explosion, including,

  • Fuel system leaks: If the fuel sprays or drips onto a hot part or encounters a spark, it can burn,
  • Electrical system: Failures may cause sparks that ignite spilled or leaked fuel, oil or coolant,
  • Fluid leaks: Fluid (fuel, oil, coolant, brake fluid) leaking into hot parts could ignite,
  • Overheated engine: The pressure and heat from an overheated engine could cause fluids to leak, hit overheated engine parts and burn,
  • Overheated catalytic converter: This part of the exhaust system is under the passenger compartment and helps control pollutants.  If it’s clogged or overheated it can heat up to 2000 degrees.  That kind of heat can burn nearby insulation and the car’s interior,
  • Hybrid and electric vehicle batteries: If they are punctured by a piece of road debris or in an accident, they can burn,
  • Car crash: Though modern crumple zones have made cars much safer, if the gas tank is ruptured or the fuel lines broken and gas is sprayed on hot engine parts, a fire can result,
  • Poor maintenance: If the car owner isn’t getting the car maintained properly or often enough, or the mechanic doing the job makes mistakes, it could create the fluid leaks and electrical problems causing a fire, and
  • Design flaws: The car may be designed in a way that makes it easier for gas tanks to rupture in an accident, for fluids to leak or electrical systems to short and spark.

If severe enough, a burn can be life threatening, cause extensive scarring and life long disability.  The burn and its treatment may be incredibly painful.

When we represent clients in these cases, we thoroughly investigate the cause of the fire or explosion to determine who is the responsible party.  Though the immediate cause of a vehicle fire could be a collision, a design flaw or negligent car maintenance may also be contributing factors.  If there is more than one party to blame, all the parties may be named as defendants in a legal action.

Contact Attorney Michael J. Hood

If you or a loved one has been injured in a vehicle fire or explosion, for a free initial consultation, contact us online or call our office at (302) 777-1000.