It is common that a low-impact accident causes a vehicle to catch fire. When this happens, our expectation is that someone involved in the accident will be seriously injured. It also suggests that another issue is involved in the fire that occurred.
The Plaintiff in a Virginia case was driving her Jeep Liberty in rush hour traffic on a divided four-lane highway. The bumper to bumper traffic was moving at about 20 to 25 miles per hour. The driver of the SUV behind her was checking his email when he rear-ended plaintiff’s vehicle. The force of the impact pushed the plaintiff’s vehicle into the vehicle immediately ahead of her. That car then struck the vehicle ahead of it in a chair-reaction accident that ultimately involved five vehicles.
When the plaintiff’s Jeep struck the car ahead of it, the Jeep rolled onto the passenger door. The Jeep burst into flames almost instantly when hit by the following SUV. The plaintiff was wearing her seat belt at the time, and was trapped inside the burning vehicle.
Other involved drivers and bystanders tried to rescue the plaintiff. They were successful in kicking out the windshield, but it took five to six minutes to do that.
The plaintiff suffered severe burns over 78 percent of her body. These injuries required her to be hospitalized for approximately eight months. At the time when the case was resolved, plaintiff had undergone 34 surgical procedures. She still faced the prospect of additional operations.
One of the rescuers also suffered serious burns, requiring three weeks in the hospital.
The case settled out of court prior to Chrysler listing their expert witnesses.
The settlement with the driver of the SUV that rear-ended plaintiff’s vehicle was for the driver’s policy limits, $1,400,000. The terms of the settlement with Chrysler (the manufacturer of the Jeep) were confidential.
On the surface, this looks like an ordinary rear-ender accident in heavy traffic. This would make the case an auto accident matter. The fact that the Jeep burst into flames upon low-impact rear-end collision, made this a defective product (Products liability) action, as well. The Jeep would not have burst into flames if there was no design or manufacturing defect.
Many auto accidents are straightforward and the cause easily identified. Other accidents, like this one, are complex and may involve multiple factors in the injury of the plaintiff.
If you or a loved one is injured in an auto accident, whether a low-impact accident that causes major harm and loss to a driver, or a more typical auto accident, you will need legal representation. Call Altizer Law, P.C., and count on the experience and tenacity of a top local personal injury attorney. Bettina Altizer and her team will go to work to ensure that you receive the full financial settlement available for your hurts and harms.