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Victims of Car Fires Caused by Accidents Can Suffer Catastrophic Injuries

Jeff Cole
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Partner at Zimmer, Duncan & Cole

A car accident can become even more deadly if it results in a vehicle fire, engulfing motorists and passengers—sometimes in both vehicles—in flames. The victims can suffer burns, permanent scarring, and emotional trauma. If they survive their burns and other life-threatening injuries, they face a long-term recovery period filled with multiple surgeries and skin grafts.

Seven Causes of Deadly Vehicle Fires

The causes of automobile fires can be complex, beginning with a negligent driver’s actions that, along with a combination of factors, result in one of the vehicles catching on fire. Factors contributing to a vehicle fire include the following:

  1. Car crashes. When two vehicles collide—often in a rear-end collision—one or both vehicles’ gas tanks can rupture and cause a fuel-fed fire.
  2. Truck crashes. Like with other fires, a truck crashing into a motor vehicle could cause its own or the other vehicle’s gas tank to rupture. In addition, if the truck contains flammable or other hazardous substances that leak out in an accident, it could set off a deadly fire that could even require the evacuation of nearby residents.
  3. Leaking fuel tank. If the fuel tank explodes or leaks—sometimes suddenly—a fire can erupt in an instant, trapping the driver and passengers in the vehicle with deadly results.
  4. Faulty wiring. Ignition switch and other electronic wiring can short out, causing a spark and a resulting fire to ignite.
  5. Fluid leaks. Damaged fuel lines, hoses, caps, and filters can cause flammable fluids to leak out of the vehicle and start a dangerous fire.
  6. Exhaust system. Leaks from an improperly installed muffler or exhaust system can ignite into a fire.
  7. Smoking. While smoking is always dangerous to a person’s health, it can also cause a deadly fire when a lighter is used in the confined space of a vehicle and sparks fly and catch on fire.

Figuring Out the Responsible Parties Can Be Complicated

Determining the cause of a car fire can be more challenging than other vehicle accidents because the vehicles are often completely destroyed by fire. Often an accident reconstruction expert will be needed to determine if vehicle defects as well as the crash contributed to the fire. An experienced car accident attorney can help a victim find a qualified expert.

In addition, determining the liable parties and their level of responsibility can be complex. More than one party can bear some of the fault for causing the victims’ horrific injuries. Parties an accident victim may be able to sue include:

  • Negligent driver
  • Vehicle manufacturer
  • Defective part manufacturer
  • Vehicle repair shop and mechanic

Types of Burns Accident Victims Suffer

Burns are classified by their degree of severity. Victims of a car fire accident could suffer one or more of these burns:

  • First-degree burns. These burns damage only the outer layer of skin and cause pain, redness, and drying, but no blisters.
  • Second-degree burns. With this type of burn, the dermis—the second layer of skin—is also damaged, and the victim can experience extreme pain and permanent scarring.
  • Third-degree burns. The fat cells under the dermis would be damaged if a person suffers third-degree burns. This can cause nerve damage, and the person could feel numbness instead of pain—a sign of the seriousness of the burn.
  • Fourth-degree burns. This is the most serious type of burn, and the muscles, tendons, and bones could be burned. The victim’s skin could be charred or blackened, and he could suffer extensive nerve damage.

If you or a family member was injured in an auto accident that resulted in a fire, your injuries could be catastrophic. You may need to be off work for a lengthy period of time while you undergo multiple surgeries and skin grafts. You may also need long-term psychological treatment to help you deal with the emotional trauma from your ordeal and your possible disfigurement and scarring. However, you may be entitled to compensation from all the parties that caused your accident and fire. Check out our Case Results to learn how we have helped others like you. Then call our experienced legal team at 888-733-2992 to schedule a free consultation to learn about your legal options.


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