What Can I Do If I or a Loved One Was Involved in an Accident Where a Jeep Cherokee Caught Fire?

Auto Accident Lawyer

Chrysler Corporation (now known as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles or FCA) is a leading example of what happens when a big business puts profits before people. Chrysler manufactured Jeep Cherokees in model years 1993 to 2001 that are prone to catching on fire and exploding in rear-end collisions. Rather than acknowledging the product’s design flaws, Chrysler (and now FCA) consistently denied that the vehicle places anyone at risk.

Experience tells a different story. Chrysler mounted a plastic gas tank between the real wheels on the Cherokee and some other Jeep models. It soon became clear that a rear-end collision could cause the fuel tank to rupture, causing gasoline to ignite.

A typical rear-end collision causes a neck injury. At higher speeds, it may cause broken bones and other significant injuries. But rear-end crashes do not usually cause fires. Jeep owners have suffered serious burn injuries from routine rear-end collisions. Dozens of Jeep owners have died because their vehicles became engulfed in flames.

For years, FCA resisted efforts to recall its dangerous product. It finally negotiated a sweetheart deal with industry regulators that allowed it to recall any of the affected models it could find, but only to install a trailer hitch. While FCA claimed that the trailer hitch would provide additional protection in a rear-end collision, it can actually be pushed into the gas tank, making it more likely to rupture.

Getting Medical Care for Injuries Caused by a Jeep Cherokee that Catches on Fire

Obtaining medical treatment is the first priority of any injury victim who survives an accident that causes a Jeep Cherokee to catch on fire. Burn victims are typically transported by ambulance to a hospital or medical center for life-saving treatment. After that, they may need to depend on their insurance coverage or a publicly funded medical benefits program to continue their treatment.

Burn treatment is often prolonged and costly. The failure to continue treating burn injuries can lead to a deadly infection. Injury victims should do whatever they can to assure that they obtain the treatment they need.

When victims of serious injuries have difficulty finding the medical care they need, a personal injury lawyer may be able to recommend doctors who can help. Some doctors are willing to accept a lien against the payment of injury compensation. A few treatment facilities may be in a position to provide charitable care. Regardless of how it is funded, following a doctor’s treatment advice is the key to making the best possible recovery from burn injuries.

Preserving Evidence After a Jeep Cherokee Catches on Fire

Bringing a claim against FCA will require proof that the defective gas tank design contributed to the Jeep fire. To obtain that evidence, an expert engineer will need to inspect the remains of the Jeep Cherokee.

While the vehicle will usually be a total loss after a fire, it is important not to sell it for salvage or to surrender it to an insurance company. Failure to preserve the vehicle in its post-accident condition makes it difficult to find the evidence a Jeep fire lawyer will need to prove how the fire started.

Just as importantly, FCA has a right to have its experts inspect the vehicle. Failing to preserve the vehicle will deprive FCA of that right. Courts can invoke a legal doctrine known as spoliation of evidence when injury victims do not preserve evidence that might establish the cause of their injuries. A court might allow the jury to assume that you destroyed or abandoned the Jeep because you thought it would help FCA defeat your claim for compensation. Never take any action with regard to the Jeep until you obtain advice from a car accident lawyer.