On November 11, 2014, Kayla White died when her 2003 Jeep Liberty was rear-ended and suddenly caught on fire with Ms. White trapped inside. According to investigators, Ms. White’s car ignited when her vehicle’s fuel tank, which is positioned below the rear bumper and behind the rear axle, was ruptured.
Ms. White’s death is the latest in dozens of other deaths linked to defectively designed SUVs. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than fifty people have died in fiery rear-end collisions involving older model SUVs. Because the fuel tank in these older SUVs sits behind the rear axle and below the bumper, they are more exposed and more likely to rupture during a rear-end collision.
Chrysler, manufacturer of the Jeep Liberty, initially denied that this issue was a safety defect before issuing a recall for their Jeep Liberty and Jeep Grand Cherokee models to equip the vehicles with trailer hitches to better protect the fuel tanks during rear-end collisions. However, consumer rights advocates fear that this repair may not go far enough, and only a small percentage of recalled vehicles have been repaired.
When someone is injured as a result of a product design defect, such as unsafe fuel tank placement, it is important to understand your right to recover financially. If you or someone you know has been injured or killed due to a product defect, contact an attorney at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner by calling 713-396-3964 or toll free at 800-594-4884.