What happens when a child dies in a Jeep fire as the result of a defective fuel tank? For one family in Georgia, a jury forced Chrysler to pay $150 million. But the company has yet to admit it did anything wrong.

Jeep Fires Cause Deaths

Four-year-old Remington Walden was on his way to tennis lessons with his aunt, Emily Newsome, when their 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee was rear-ended at high speed. Neither driver was hurt; Remington broke his leg. But then, the fuel tank on the Jeep Grand Cherokee exploded, killing the toddler.
This isn’t the first time Chrysler has been on the hot seat because of exploding fuel tanks. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) criticized the company for refusing to fix the vehicles until August 2014. The government links the Jeep’s defects to at least 70 deaths.
Last November, the NHTSA sent a letter to owners urging them to fix their Jeeps immediately after A 23-year-old pregnant woman from Ferndale, Michigan, was killed. Kayla White’s 2003 Jeep Liberty exploded on the Lodge Freeway when her Jeep was hit from behind at high speeds.

Fuel Tank Defect Causes Jeep Fires

The problem is that the fuel tank is located behind the rear axle. Most other manufacturers stopped that practice in the 1970s after the Ford Pinto recalls. Now only a few types of vehicles have fuel tanks exposed to impact in a rear-end collision, one of which is the Jeep.

Chrysler Denies Fault for Jeep Fires

Despite jury verdicts and pressure from the NHTSA, Chrysler has yet to admit liability for the Jeep fires. Instead, they say their Jeeps function just as well as similar vehicles on the market. Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne testified:

“Our analysis of that data suggested these were defect-free vehicles, and that they performed exactly like the rest of the comparative class performed in the marketplace at the time. Our analysis suggests very clearly that this is not a defect.”

Even their proposed fix won’t solve the problem. In late 2014, Chrysler agreed to recall defective Jeeps and install trailer hitches. But the NHTSA says this fix won’t offer much protection in a high-speed crash like the ones that killed Remington Walden and Kayla White. At best, they offer “incremental” safety benefits in low- and moderate-speed crashes.

Until car manufacturers like Chrysler are held accountable for using historically risky designs, Jeep fires and other automotive defects will continue to kill drivers and their children. Lemon lawyer Dani K. Liblang with The Liblang Law Firm, P.C., represents the victims of these auto defects and helps them get the compensation they deserve. If you or someone you know has been injured in an auto accident, contact The Liblang Law Firm, P.C., to see if the automobile manufacturer may be at fault.

Dani Liblang

Author Dani Liblang

Dani K. Liblang is a collections harassment defense attorney at The Liblang Law Firm, PC, in Birmingham, Michigan. If you are being harassed by debt collectors, contact The Liblang Law Firm today for a free consultation.

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