Exploding Gas Tanks & Fuel Line Defects
While vehicle fires are relatively rare, all it takes is a small leak in the fuel tank or fuel line to ignite a fire. Vehicles with defective fuel lines or tanks are more likely to ignite, particularly in the event of a crash. Post-collision fires or explosions caused by defects in gas tanks or fuel lines expose vehicle occupants to severe injury or death.
From 2008 to 2010 highway vehicle fires caused an average of 300 deaths and 1,250 injuries annually, according to the U.S. Fire Administration. Although the majority of highway vehicle fires start in the engine, running gear or wheel area, fuel tank and fuel line fires cause a disproportionate number of fatalities. Despite making up only 2 percent of all automobile fires, fuel tank and fuel line fires accounted for 15 percent of all associated deaths.
If you or a loved one have been injured due to a defective gas tank or fuel line, contact The Krist Law Firm, P.C. to find out how we can help you. We will investigate your situation and help you recover compensation for the losses you’ve incurred.
Fuel System Overview
Modern day fuel systems are made up of the following components:
- Fuel tank ¬– stores gas or diesel
- Fuel pump – draws the fuel from the tank via fuel lines
- Fuel lines – the path by which fuel travels from the fuel tank, through fuel filters, and is delivered to fuel injectors
- Fuel injectors – Sprays a fuel-air mixture into the engine
A defect in a vehicle’s fuel system can occur because of where it or its components are located (i.e. behind the rear axle), or because it was vulnerable to damage during a collision.
Defective Gas Tanks
Gas tanks are the largest sources of fuel in a vehicle. The majority of fuel-tank related explosions or fires occur because the tank ruptures upon impact, which then causes fuel to leak and pool underneath the vehicle. Fires and explosions that result from fuel leakage often have catastrophic consequences for vehicle occupants.
In 1977, an investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) into Ford Pinto and Mercury Bobcat revealed that 38 rear-end collisions involving these two vehicle types had resulted in fires that killed 27 people and injured 24 more. The Pinto and Bobcat were recalled when it was discovered that a defect in the fuel tanks could lead to fuel leakage when these vehicles were struck from the rear, which could thereby result in a fire.
Largely because of the Ford Pinto tragedy in the 1970s, automakers began to design vehicles so that fuel tanks were no longer located in such vulnerable places. However, the problem of defective fuel tanks has continued. In 2013, Chrysler recalled 2.7 million Jeep Grand Cherokees and Liberty SUVs after 51 people were killed in post-crash fires caused by ruptures in the gas tanks of those vehicles.
Fuel Line Defects
Because fuel systems are highly pressurized, gasoline that leaks from the fuel line will be atomized (i.e. fine, mist-like particles) and is, therefore, easier to ignite with or without a collision. Once a vehicle’s fuel line ignites, a fire greatly increases in intensity and could even lead to an explosion.
According to a study by National Fire Protection Association, fires that originate in the fuel line of vehicles are the most deadly type. Of the total number of highway vehicle fires between 2003 and 2007, fuel line fires accounted for only 1 percent of vehicle fires, but were responsible for 13 percent of the deaths during that time period.
Contact Our Houston Auto Defect Attorneys Today for Help
If you or a family member were injured in a fire or explosion caused by a defective fuel tank or line, the skilled Houston product liability lawyers at The Krist Law Firm, P.C. are here to help. We have a proven track record of success holding automotive designers and manufacturers accountable for injuries that are caused by dangerous defects in motor vehicles.
Through a product liability lawsuit, you may be able to receive compensation for your past and future:
- Medical costs for injuries caused by the automotive defect
- Loss of earning capacity
- Physical pain
- Mental anguish
- Physical limitations
We have over four decades of experience handling product liability claims in Texas and have secured numerous multi-million dollar settlements and verdicts on behalf of our clients. We will fight for the maximum compensation possible for your injuries with the goal of helping you obtain the financial resources you need to rebuild your life.
Our decades-long experience in lawsuits involving automotive defect includes the Turner v. General Motors litigation, which established the rights of citizens to sue auto manufacturers for defects that resulted in personal injury without causing the underlying auto accident.
Contact us today at 281-283-8500 to receive a free consultation.