One of the more tragic types of serious personal injury and death cases lawyers in our firm handle involve injuries and deaths caused by burns. These cases range from fuel-fed fires in automobiles; fires caused by such things as defective electronic and battery issues in a host of products; heating pad injuries; and home fires. Any lawyer who has handled a serious burn case will tell you they never forget how their client was affected.
In some instances, after a collision, a fire develops and can be hazardous to a trapped occupant. The now-famous Ford Pinto cases are an example of a fuel-fed fire. In the Pinto automobiles, rear-end collisions were causing the fuel tanks to be punctured or ruptured, which was causing fuel-fed fires.
More recent examples of fuel-fed fire defects have come to light with recent recalls in automobiles. For example, during the latter part of 2013, Ford Motor Co. issued a recall in its 2013 Ford Escape. The first recalls dealt with defective fuel lines. The subsequent recall dealt with those fuel lines being improperly installed by Ford-dealer mechanics. Related recalls in the 1.6-liter engine found in some Ford vehicles involved situations where the engine cylinder heads were overheating, leading to oil leaks that were causing fires in some vehicles. In total, the Ford Escape was subject to five recalls for fire risks.
Ford also faced a massive recall of many of its vehicles as a result of a faulty Texas Instrument cruise control. The switches, it was determined, would leak hydraulic fluid and potentially lead to a fire, even with the vehicle turned off. This recall involved 4.5 million vehicles including certain models of Ford Windstars, Ford Excursions, Ford F-Super Duty diesel trucks and vans, Ford Econolines, Ford Explorers and Mercury Mountaineers, Ford Rangers and some Ford F53 motorhomes.
GM has also had to deal with fire risks in some of its automobiles, most notably the Chevrolet Volt. In the Volt, the batteries were causing fires after the car was involved in a highway crash. Similarly, GM has had to deal with older model C/K pickup trucks catching fire as a result of faulty gas tank placement, following side impacts.
But automobiles are not the only products known to cause burn injuries. Sears and Kmart have recently recalled Kenmore oscillating fan heaters. It was determined that broken motor mounts were causing the units to overheat, catch fire and ignite nearby items. Other recent recalls on heaters involved Soleil Portable fan heaters, Optimus Portable infrared radiant quartz electric heaters, Touch Point portable baseboard convection heaters, and others. Other types of heaters, such as some oil filled heaters manufactured by Holmes, and some ceramic heaters manufactured by Lasko Products, Inc., have also been shown to be defective and create fire hazards.
A common product that has also been shown to pose unreasonable burn and fire hazards are fire pits. In the last few months, recalls have been issued on Clay Bowl outdoor fireplaces, Catalina outdoor fireplaces, and other similar products.
Heating pads have also been shown to pose burn hazards. For example, HoMedics conducted a recall of certain of its heating pads after the heating pads were shown to cause burn injuries. Some of the heating pads, it was determined, had wiring defects that led to excessive heat, and created a hazard of serious burns or fires.
As you can imagine, the potential for fire and burn injuries and deaths is endless. Lawyers in our firm’s Personal Injury/Products Liability Section continue to monitor the countless recalls on products that cause serious burns and injuries. If you would like additional information on this subject, contact Ben Locklar, a lawyer in the section, at 800-898-2034 or by email at Ben.Locklar@beasleyallen.com. Ben will be glad to help you with your inquiry.
Sources: autoweek.com, autosafety.org and cpsc.gov
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