Jaime Jackson recently settled an automotive products liability case against a vehicle manufacturer. Our clients were the parents whose son died in a vehicle fuel-fed fire following a collision.
In this case, the vehicle exited its travel lane and left the roadway for unknown reasons. The vehicle collided with a drainage ditch which caused it to flip over and catch fire. Tragically, the driver could not get out of the vehicle and died in the fire.
The occupant of a vehicle should not survive a crash to then die in a fire
One of the first safety rules of automotive design has long been that the occupant of a vehicle should not survive a crash only to die in a post-collision fuel-fed fire. In other words, following a crash, the vehicle’s fuel system should not leak gasoline where the impact is survivable from a traumatic injury standpoint.
Some crashes are just so severe that the occupant, despite well-designed vehicle safety systems, will not survive the traumatic injuries sustained from the impact. In those severe crashes, there may also be a breach of the fuel system that leads to a post-collision fuel-fed fire. However, in less severe crashes, where the occupant survives the crash forces, the fuel system must contain the gasoline within the system. The system should not be breached resulting in the leakage and ignition of gasoline.
In this case, a fuel line was breached in the engine compartment from the impact. The result was the release of gasoline which ignited in a fire, killing our clients’ son.
Failure to equip with lane keeping assist as standard
We also made a claim against the vehicle manufacturer for choosing not to equip this vehicle with a lane keeping assist system as standard equipment. A lane keeping assist system is a camera-based system that tracks the painted lane markings on the roadway and will recognize when the vehicle is about to leave its lane of travel. The vehicle will then apply steering input to guide the vehicle back to the center of the lane. Lane keeping assist keeps the vehicle in its lane of travel. In this case, had the vehicle been equipped with lane keeping assist, it would have prevented the vehicle from exiting the roadway. In this vehicle model year, the lane keeping assist system was only offered as optional equipment.
Jaime Jackson successfully argued that the lane keeping assist system should have been standard equipment. Safety is not an option. Safety is for everyone.
If you or a loved one have been seriously injured or killed in a vehicle crash, contact Jaime Jackson Law here.