A vehicle fire can be extremely dangerous. Not only is there a risk for an explosion, but those nearby could suffer severe burn injuries or death. Smoke from the fire could also cause harm to anyone close enough to breathe it in.
If you suffered a burn injury or other damages in a vehicle fire, you may be able to pursue compensation. Our South Bend-area auto accident attorneys are prepared to discuss your claim during a free legal consultation. There are no upfront fees if you choose to work with our firm. We only get paid if you recover compensation.
Below, we discuss how vehicle fires occur and who may be liable for your damages.
What Are the Common Causes of Vehicle Fires?
According to the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA), collisions were the leading cause of vehicle fires that resulted in death. However, electrical and mechanical malfunctions or failures also contributed to the number of vehicle fires. This may be due to one or more of the following:
- Design flaws
- Poor vehicle maintenance
- Hybrid and electrical vehicle batteries
- Overheating of catalytic converters
- Engines overheating
- Spilled fluids
- Electrical system failures
- Fuel system leak
Large trucks are more likely to catch fire after a collision, mostly because of the role tires play in a vehicle fire. Highway vehicle fires are also more likely to occur between the hours of 3 p.m. and 6 p.m.
What Injuries Can Be Caused by a Vehicle Fire?
Victims of vehicle fires may experience thermal injuries if they come into direct contact with the fire. They could also be severely scalded from contact with hot or burning liquids. Burns may be categorized into one of three degrees:
- First-degree burn – when only the outer layer of the skin is damaged
- Second-degree burn – when the first two layers of skin are damaged
- Third-degree burn – when the skin, muscle, cartilage and bone are damaged
Vehicle fires may leave some victims with other damages, such as sinus issues and lung damage, due to smoke or chemical inhalation. Depending on the length of exposure to harmful substances in the smoke, victims may later develop asthma or cancer.
Who May Be Liable for a Vehicle Fire?
Determining liability for a vehicle fire may depend on the cause of the fire. If the vehicle caught fire due to some mechanical or electrical issue and not because of a collision, liability may fall to the manufacturer of the defective part. However, to hold the manufacturer liable, victims would need to prove the manufacturer knew of the issue and did nothing to correct it.
If a recall was issued for the defective part that ultimately caused the vehicle fire, the responsibility to have the issue corrected falls to the owner of the vehicle. Therefore, if you were injured due to the vehicle owner’s negligence, that person may be liable for your damages. An example might be if you were a passenger in a vehicle that caught fire due to a defective part that had previously been recalled. If the owner was properly notified of this recall but failed to have the part fixed or replaced, he or she could be liable.
Liability may also fall on a driver whose negligent actions resulted in a collision. If the crash caused one of the involved vehicle’s fuel tanks to leak, sparking a fire, you may be able to pursue compensation from that driver’s liability insurance.
Can I File a Claim After a Vehicle Fire?
You may be able to file a claim against a negligent party if you were injured in a vehicle fire. Indiana is an at-fault state, so the at-fault driver of a crash is liable for damages. When filing a claim for an accident that resulted in a vehicle fire, you may also pursue compensation for your other injuries, lost wages, property damage and more.
If the vehicle fire was caused by a defective part, the process of filing a claim may be different and more complex. In some instances, the combination of a negligent driver and a defective part may have caused the vehicle fire. In this case, you may have more than one claim to file.
The legal process can be daunting for many injury victims. It may be in your best interest to speak to an attorney as soon as possible.
Call an Attorney for Help Today
If you suffered burns, lung damage or other injuries caused by a vehicle fire, our experienced attorneys are prepared to help.
Our lawyers have decades of experience investigating claims and building strong cases to recover maximum compensation. We have successfully recovered millions on behalf of our clients.
Call (844) 678-1800 today to schedule a free consultation.