You may have noticed a recent rash of car fires in the Las Vegas area:
** A car fire on June 14 spread to a gas pump at an East Valley gas station before it was extinguished.
** A tractor-trailer on northbound Interstate 15 at Washington Avenue was reported on fire on June 10.
** Clark County firefighters and Nevada Highway Patrol responded to a car on fire on U.S. 95 on June 5.
** A car accident at the Kyle Canyon Road / US-95 interchange injured one person and left a car on fire on May 30.
Car fire accidents are not unusual. In a September 2020 report, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) estimates that 189,500 highway vehicle fires caused 550 deaths, 1,700 injuries and $1.6 billion in direct property damage in the U.S. during 2019.
An NFPA report says the leading causes of vehicle fires are mechanical failures or malfunctions and electrical failures or malfunctions. Collisions were the leading cause of vehicle fires that resulted in death.
If you have been injured or lost a loved one in a car fire in the Las Vegas area, our car accident lawyers at Sam & Ash, LLP can help you get compensation for your losses from those who caused the crash. We represent car accident victims injured by other people’s negligence. We fight for What’s Right when you face medical bills, loss of income and pain and suffering due to a car accident someone else caused.
Causes of Motor Vehicle Fire Accidents
According to the NFPA report, Americans are driving older cars in recent years more than they have in the past. Cars are more than 10 years old on average, and this leads to worn parts and systems, which makes the vehicle more susceptible to fire.
In a motor vehicle collision, the force of impact generates heat as well as destruction that exposes hot elements of the vehicle to flammable materials and air that enables combustion.
Highway vehicle fires are more likely to begin with the ignition of electrical wire or cable insulation than any other specific item, the NFPA says. However, about two-thirds of car fire deaths in the U.S. begin with a flammable or combustible liquid or gas. Gasoline was the source of ignition in more than half of all highway vehicle fire deaths in 2018.
Car Fire Burns and Other Injuries
Open flames in a car fire can cause burn injuries, especially when the crash victims are trapped in a car. Burn injuries can cause swelling, scarring and, in serious cases, shock and even death. Third-degree burns damage or destroy the deepest layer of skin plus fat tissue and nerves underneath.
In addition to burns, occupants of cars that have caught fire are exposed to a variety of toxic fumes. A FEMA publication about car fires says cars, trucks, and other motor vehicles are made of many synthetic materials that emit harmful gases when they burn. The NFPA says the materials in vehicle seats are the greatest potential source of toxic compounds.
Other potential hazards from car fires include:
- Flames from burning vehicles can shoot out distances of 10 feet or more.
- Ruptured batteries can spill highly corrosive battery acid.
- Ruptured radiators can emit steam, which can cause scalding.
- Overheated vehicle parts can explode and send potentially lethal shrapnel into the air.
- Ruptured gas tanks can spill fuel, increasing fire and explosion hazards.
- Rarely, gas tanks can explode.
What To Do If Your Car Catches Fire in an Accident
You want to stay away from vehicle fires to avoid the heat and smoke of the fire, as well as toxic gases and the potential for an explosion.
If you are in your vehicle when it catches fire, turn off the engine and get everyone out and away from the vehicle as fast as possible. Everyone should stay at least 100 feet from the burning car, as well as away from traffic.
Some car fires are first noticed because of smoke. Do not open a car’s hood or trunk if you suspect fire within. The rush of air to the fire could cause it to enlarge, potentially in an explosive manner.
Call 911 to report a vehicle fire and its location.
FEMA points out that, “Vehicle fires are so dangerous that firefighters wear full protective fire-resistant clothing and equipment, as well as self-contained breathing apparatus to keep themselves safe. … You don’t have these extra safety advantages, so use extra caution.” In most cases, you should not attempt to fight a vehicle fire.
How a Las Vegas Car Accident Attorney Can Help
If you have been injured by a car fire, you may be entitled to seek compensation for your losses from the party that caused the accident that led to the fire or from the manufacturer of a fire-prone vehicle or vehicle part. There have been several major recalls in the last decade of vehicles with potential fire hazards. In March 2021, for example, the federal government recalled Model Year 2017-2021 Kia Sportages and Cadenzas and select Hyundai and Genesis vehicles because they posed a fire risk.
Manufacturers of faulty motor vehicles can be held liable for flaws they knew or should have known existed in the products they put on the market if those flaws lead to injuries or deaths.
The car accident attorneys at Sam & Ash are ready to investigate the root cause of your burn injuries and secure evidence that demonstrates the other driver’s liability or the existence of a defective vehicle. We will work with your doctors to understand the extent of your injuries and losses. Burn injuries may require skin grafts and multiple rounds of follow-up surgery to address scarring. We can work aggressively to make responsible parties do What’s Right by you.
At Sam & Ash, LLP, our lawyers and support staff know what you’re going through after a car fire, and we are here to help. We are ready to sit down with you and discuss your case during a free consultation. Call us now or reach out online.