Girardi | Keese

Could car fires spark personal injury claims?

Residents of California are more than familiar with the dangers of fire, but one area many might not consider the impact of flames is in a vehicle. Certainly, some vehicles do catch fire following a collision, but the U.S. Fire Administration says only a small portion of vehicle fires each years are caused by accidents. Most vehicle fires, says the agency, are related to engine, tire or wiring malfunctions.

One car that's been in the news lately related to fires is the Tesla Model S. Several car fires have been reported in Model S vehicles, some of them occurring after <a href="/Personal-Injury-Wrongful-Death/">accidents</a>. After two Model S cars caught fire following collisions with road debris, the manufacturer installed shielding to the vehicle underbodies to help prevent problems.

Over the July 4 weekend, a man stole a Tesla Model S and led police on a chase that involved several accidents and at least seven injuries. The incident ended when the Model S hit a pole. The car was reportedly torn in two. The man was ejected and was critically injured but not killed. Witnesses recorded batteries from the Model S catching fire on the pavement. According to reports, the batteries popped and shot into the air, behaving like fireworks. The U.S. Fire Administration said that from 2008 through 2010, there were around 65,000 car fires each year. Car fires during that period lead to injuries and 300 deaths. Only around 4 percent of the fires occurred as a result of a crash, says the agency. Whether a vehicle fire occurs due to a crash caused by an at-fault driver or because of malfunctions or defective parts, injured parties have a right to seek compensation. The first step in a personal injury claim is identifying who might be liable for the incident.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, "Tesla Shares Down After Stolen Vehicle Crash in California," Mike Ramsey, July 7, 2014

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