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Fuel Fed Fires in Auto Accidents

Post-impact fuel fed fires occur all too often as a result of auto accidents that happen in Birmingham and surrounding areas. If a vehicle’s fuel system is compromised and fuel spillage occurs upon impact, the risk of a fuel fed fire with resulting burn injuries to the vehicle’s occupants is greatly increased. The Birmingham car accident attorneys at Cross & Smith have represented victims of post-collision fuel fed fires for over twenty (20) years.

Fuel carried in a vehicle is usually safe unless it is ignited and exposed to oxygen. Accordingly, the integrity and security of the vehicle’s storage container and fuel supply system are critical in the event of an auto accident in which an impact with another vehicle or object occurs. Tragically, every year there are crashes and collisions in which the occupants of a vehicle suffer minimal physical injury, but are seriously injured or killed as a result of burn injuries caused by a fuel fed fire.

Protection of the fuel storage tank and fuel supply system is the primary design consideration for preventing a fuel fed fire in the event of an auto accident. In addition to designing and manufacturing fuel storage containers and fuel supply systems that meet the necessary structural integrity, location of the tank and supply system within the vehicle is equally important. Several years ago, some automobile manufacturers chose to locate the fuel storage tank in the rear of the vehicle. The fuel tank was placed below the luggage compartment and the filler extended to the rear of the vehicle. This design resulted in disruption of the filler pipe at the tank in certain rear end collisions. As a result, manufacturers later relocated the fuel storage container to areas immediately behind the rear axle with a side filler. One of the most undesirable designs was used by some manufacturers of pickup trucks and vans. These manufacturers chose to locate the fuel tank outside the frame rail, and usually on the driver’s side of the truck. This design made the fuel tank especially vulnerable in driver’s side impact collisions.

It is a fundamentally accepted safety principle that fuel storage containers should be designed to resist rupture during impact. It is foreseeable that both fuel supply systems and fuel tanks may sustain impact and damage in an auto accident, but its design engineers should endeavor to locate both as far away from typical crush zones as possible.

In an effort to reduce the number of fuel fed fire incidents in the United States, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) requires that manufacturers meet certain minimum standards in the design of vehicle fuel systems.

If you or someone you know has been injured as a result of a vehicle fire that occurred after an auto accident, please contact the Birmingham car accident attorneys at Cross & Smith. Our lawyers and staff will investigate the accident and research the design of the vehicle involved in the wreck. Please contact us at (877) 791-0618 for a free consultation or contact us online.

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