Is Your Jeep a Fire Hazard for Your Children?
Just when the furor over General Motors’ massive recalls over a faulty ignition switch on millions of cars is dying down, its American rival Chrysler is facing mounting pressures over a defect linked to fatal fires on Jeeps.
I have written in the past about older SUVs that regulators have warned are vulnerable to igniting in rear-end collisions.
Now a lawsuit in Georgia that resulted in a $150-million jury verdict over the death of a child, has led to renewed pressure on regulators to look again at Jeep Libertys and Grand Cherokees with rear-mounted fuel tanks.
The Detroit Free Press reported the rear-mounted fuel tanks may have been a contributing factor in 37 fiery crashes that resulted in 51 deaths, according to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. However, the Center for Auto Safety – a car safety advocacy group – estimates that there have been as many as 395 fatal crashes.
The NHTSA and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles agreed on a recall of around 2.7 million Jeep SUVs last year. The recalls include the Jeep Grand Cherokee, model years 1994-2004 and Jeep Liberty, model years 2002-2007. The SUVs were recalled due to a possible fire hazard. The plastic gas tank in these SUVs is lodged closely in between the rear bumper and the rear axle. The position of the tank means the gas tank can puncture in the event of a rear-end collision, creating a fire.
In a recent article the Wall Street Journal described the recall as “limited” and pointed out the management team at Fiat Chrysler has taken issue with the stance of regulators.
The jury verdict in Georgia has questioned the carmakers’ approach. After a two week trial in Bainbridge, Ga., the jury took less than two hours to conclude Chrysler had acted with “reckless or wanton disregard for human life in the design or sale” of a 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee that Remington Walden was riding in when it was rear-ended by a pickup truck.
Remington Walden was just four-years-old when he was killed in a fire in the Grand Cherokee.
Legal experts say families of those who died in Jeep fires are likely to take a harder line in light of the verdict. Dozens of lawsuits are pending over deaths and injuries said to be attributed to this defect.
Fiat Chrysler has countered the claims by pointing out the gas tanks met safety standards at the time of manufacturer. The car maker claims many of the crashes that led to fires took place at high speeds.
When we buy a car, we have a right to expect it to be safe. I am horrified by reports of children who died in Jeep fires in this manner. Despite modern manufacturing techniques, the last two years have revealed serious shortcomings in the auto industry. If your car has a Takata airbag, there is a danger it will explode sending potentially deadly shrapnel flying into your face. If you are driving a car such as a Chevrolet Cobalt or a Saturn Ion, the ignition switch could fail, causing you to stall. These massive series of recalls have cast a pall over the automobile industry, although they may also represent a more transparent climate by regulators who have come under fire for not taking action sooner.
If you have been injured or lost a loved one due to a fire in a Jeep or any other defect, you may have grounds to sue the manufacturer. Call Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers at 757.455.0077