Every year thousands of innocent consumers suffer horribly disfiguring or fatal burn injuries in post-collision fires. Many of those injuries and deaths are caused by improperly designed fuel systems which allow fuel to spill during the accident. Fuel systems should be designed to maintain integrity during reasonably foreseeable accidents. We believe that a person should not survive a crash only to be burned in a post-collision fire. When that happens, we are prepared to pursue a fuel system defect case. We have experience investigating and pursuing cases concerning fuel system design defects which can involve fuel tank location, fuel filler cap design, filler pipe protection and attachment, fuel line protection and routing, and fuel pump shutoff switches.
In an automobile accident or rollover a post collision fuel-fed fire can have catastrophic results for occupants of these vehicles. These accidents may be rollovers, frontal impact collision, side impact collision, and rear end collisions. Some common fire related points of original or cause include:
Fuel lines that are allowing fuel to escape from the fuel system can result in fuel fed fires during a collision. Improper construction, as well as the location of the fuel lines can make a fuel line leak more likely. Cars that contain electric fuel pumps will continue to pump gas through the fuel system after an accident because a defect allows fuel to be present allowing fires to occur.
Anti-siphoning devices prevent fuel from siphoning from a fuel tank, thus preventing fuel from igniting and causing a fuel fed fire. Manufacturers have yet to take safety precautions by adding the device to vehicles. Siphoning usually allows the gas to flow out very quickly due to the gravity.
The majority of automotive fuel tanks are constructed low carbon hot rolled sheet steel and protected from corrosion with a material most known as “terne coating.” Most tanks are stamped in two pieces (halves), fitted with the fuel line fittings, and holes, with a steel baffle welded inside the tank. Then the two halves are seem welded together to complete the tank. The tanks are then pressure tested for leaks.
The safest location for fuel tanks is the area, which is least likely to be impacted or intruded during a crash. Through years of studying crashes, two locations have been formed to be the “safest.” These are “over the rear axle and forward the rear axle” and conversely, the two most dangerous locations have been the placement “rear mounted under the floor pan” and side mounted outside vehicle’s protective frame (see), because of the frequency of rear end collisions the rear mounted fuel tanks under the floor pans are particularly dangerous due to close proximity of the crash zone from rear end collisions. Therefore, many manufacturers have been forced to move the tanks further away from the rear bumper or provided protective shields to prevent their rapture.
Fuel Tanks and Fuel Systems fail due to well-known and well-documented reasons:
Relocation, location and/or shielding of rupture or puncture are the single and most practical solution to fuel fed fires. It is no secret that the more potential for fires. Another practical solution is the shielding or guarding from intrusions into the tank zone. Beginning in 1977 in some vehicles a high density, plastic shield was placed under or against the tank to prevent puncture by the differential or drive draft during a collision. Other designs included bladders located in the fuel tanks, high density polyethylene plastic tanks and breakaway fittings on the filler pipe.
If you have a question regarding a serious personal injury claim or the wrongful death of a friend or family member, Call and talk to Mr. Willis a Board Certified Personal Injury Trial Lawyer, certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.Call Now for a Free Confidential Consultation at 1-800-883-9858 or 1-800-468-4878.