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Can I Sue if My Car Catches on Fire?

Can I Sue if My Car Catches on Fire?

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Can I Sue if My Car Catches on Fire?

The United States Fire Administration (USFA) recently released data that describes the magnitude of car fires throughout each of the 50 states. From the start of 2014 through the end of 2016, the United States averaged 171 car fires per year, with 80 percent of the car fires occurring in passenger vehicles. More than 40 percent of car fires resulted from unintentional action, such as the unintentional negligence committed by an auto manufacturer. An automobile can catch fire for several unintentional reasons, such as a compromised fuel tank that explodes while a car is in motion.

Many of the injuries sustained because of a car fire turn out to be serious. If you sustained one or more injuries caused by a car fire, you might ask the question, “Can I sue if my car catches on fire?” The answer depends on whether you can prove the dealer or the manufacturer should be held legally liable for committing one or more acts of negligence. Suing for a car fire requires you to file a product liability lawsuit, which can be difficult to win unless you hire an experienced team of product liability attorneys.

For more than three decades, the personal injury lawyers at Morgan & Morgan have recovered more than $14 billion in monetary damages for our clients, with some of the compensation coming from product liability lawsuits. As a type of personal injury case, a product liability lawsuit requires a skilled litigator to conduct an exhaustive investigation that demonstrates a manufacturer and/or retailer should be held accountable for designing and constructing a dangerous product like a vehicle that catches fire.

Schedule a free case evaluation with a product liability attorney from Morgan & Morgan to determine whether the manufacturer and/or dealership committed one or more acts of negligence.

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FAQ

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  • What Is Product Liability?

    Defective products cause tens of thousands of injuries each year, many of which are serious enough to warrant emergency medical care. Established to hold the party responsible for constructing and/or selling a dangerous product accountable, every state has passed some form of product liability law. However, the federal government has not enacted product liability laws. Many product liability laws differ from other types of personal injury laws, which means plaintiffs that decide to take legal action against a seller and/or manufacturer should hire a product liability attorney.

    When a product possesses a defect that places a consumer in danger, the product does not meet the standard for fulfilling the expectations of the consumer.

  • What Are the Most Common Causes of Car Fires?

    Your lawyer has to prove several points when litigating a product liability case. The first point to prove involves determining the cause of the car fire. Automobiles catch fire for a wide variety of reasons, with some of the reasons much more common than other types of reasons.

    Electrical System

    Vehicle electrical systems cause several different types of problems for cars, with one of the most dangerous problems being a wire generating a spark that ignites a fire. The battery charging cycle produces highly flammable hydrogen to develop near the engine. Any loose wires that come in contact with the hydrogen can create the spark that is needed to start a fire. Electrical system problems are typically traced back to the manufacturer of the vehicle, although a dealership’s maintenance department can be held legally liable as well.

    Exposed vehicle wires can also ignite flammable fluids such as oil, fuel, and transmission fluid.

    Overheated Engine

    Although car engines overheat for several reasons, the cooling system often is the culprit that leads to an overheated engine. A clogged hose, coolant leak, faulty water pump, or defective radiator fan all can contribute to an engine overheating and eventually starting a fire. When engine fluid interacts with extremely hot surfaces, the result can be the fluid igniting. Car owners can reduce the likelihood of a car engine overheating by performing routine maintenance, but a serious design flaw can be the culprit of a car engine overheating as well.

    Design Flaw

    When designing a new car, an auto manufacturer occasionally makes poor decisions that increase the risk of a car catching fire. In many design flaw cases, the manufacturer or the manufacturer’s car dealerships discover the design flaw. This leads to a recall that corrects the design flaw, but manufacturers usually issue vehicle recalls after several cars have caught fire. If you sustained injuries from a car fire before a recall of your vehicle, your product liability attorney includes the recall as part of the evidence submitted during a civil lawsuit.

    Vehicle Crash

    Car accidents represent one of the most common causes of vehicle fires. Perhaps the brakes failed to work properly or your vehicle’s turn signal did not indicate you were about to make a turn. The key is to link a defective part for causing the auto accident. Your product liability lawyer reviews the official police report that includes a detailed description of what caused the vehicle crash. A car crash that happened at a high speed can generate enough force to dislodge a part that allows fluid to spill onto a super-hot surface, such as a vehicle’s engine or transmission.

  • What Are the Types of Liability Associated With a Product Liability Case?

    The experienced attorney that you hire at Morgan & Morgan has three ways to prove liability for a product liability lawsuit.

    Negligence

    Negligence represents the most common form of liability for a product liability case. Proving negligence requires your legal counsel to demonstrate the presence of four legal elements, with the first element requiring your legal counsel to show the manufacturer and/or dealership owed you a duty of care to construct and sell a safe automobile.

    Breach of Warranty

    Car manufacturers offer either express or implied guarantees regarding the quality of their vehicles. If a car manufacturer does not honor the terms and conditions written into a warranty, the car manufacturer has committed a breach of warranty. You should request an express warranty to present as physical evidence if you ever have to take legal action against a car manufacturer or the seller of a motor vehicle 

    Strict Liability

    According to the strict liability principle, an auto manufacturer assumes 100 percent liability for the injuries and financial losses caused by a car fire. All you have to do is prove a defective auto part caused your car to catch fire, as well as show that the defective auto part caused you harm and financial losses.

  • How Do I Prove Negligence?

    For you to win a civil lawsuit based on proving negligence, your product liability attorney must clearly show the presence of four legal elements.

    Duty of Care

    The first legal element to prove is called duty of care. In many relationships between a plaintiff and defendant, the defendant owes the plaintiff a duty of care to prevent the defendant from sustaining injuries. For example, a physician owes a patient a duty of care not to harm the patient while completing a medical procedure. A car manufacturer and dealership owe the buyer of a car a duty of care to protect the car buyer against getting hurt while operating the vehicle.

    Breach of Duty

    After establishing a duty of care, your product liability links the actions of a car manufacturer and/or dealership with violating the duty of care legal doctrine. A car manufacturer that allows a defective car to reach a dealership breaches its duty of care if the defective part causes the car to catch fire.

    Car Fire Caused Your Injuries

    A car manufacturer and/or dealership might commit one or more acts of negligence, but if your lawyer cannot prove the breach of duty of care caused your injuries, you cannot expect to receive a favorable legal judgment. For example, a transmission leak starts a fire, but your legal counsel cannot link the fire to any of the injuries you sustained. Perhaps a negligent driver caused a vehicle collision that sparked a fire and the impact of the crash, not the fire, caused you harm.

    Financial Loss

    To receive compensation for a car fire, you must demonstrate that the fire caused financial losses. In addition to medical expenses, you also might have to pay a substantial amount of money to repair your vehicle or purchase a new one. Financial losses include lost wages because the seriousness of your injuries prevented you from working.

  • What Are the Damages Awarded for Product Liability Cases?

    The monetary damages awarded during a civil trial fall under three broad categories.

    Economic Damages

    Economic damages represent the tangible costs associated with a car fire. Medical expenses, such as diagnostic tests and treatment programs, are the largest expenses that you recover for economic damages. You can request compensation to pay for lost wages and property damage as well.

    Non-Economic Damages

    Non-economic damages do not come with a price tag, Instead, your product liability attorney seeks compensation for pain and suffering. Sustaining injuries caused by a car fire can leave behind emotional scars that take years to heal. For example, you might have recurring nightmares that vividly relive the horror of the car fire.

    Punitive Damages

    The judge or jury hearing your case can award you punitive damages that do not pay for any economic or non-economic damages. Punitive damages penalize the defendant for committing one or more acts of negligence, as well as deter the defendant from making the same dangerous mistakes again when it comes to designing and manufacturing a motor vehicle.

  • Get the Legal Support That You Deserve

    The answer to the question, “Can I sue if my car catches fire?” is a resounding yes. However, the more important question to ask is “Should I sue if my car catches fire?” To answer yes to the second question, you need to present persuasive evidence that helps you gain a favorable legal judgment. Working with one of the highly-rated product liability lawyers at Morgan & Morgan improves the strength of your case by submitting convincing evidence.

    A car manufacturer and even the dealership that sold you the defective car retains the expertise of a high-powered legal team to provide a defense during a product liability lawsuit. You cannot expect to beat a seasoned team of litigators that work for the car manufacturer or dealership.

    Schedule a free case evaluation today with a Morgan & Morgan product liability attorney to determine the best course of action.

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