Car Accident Lawyer
As most Jeep Liberty owners know, a design flaw in the 2002-2007 Jeep Liberty threatens the lives of drivers and passengers who are involved in rear-end accidents. The gas tank placement creates a serious risk that the Liberty will explode or catch on fire during a rear-end collision.
According to Automotive News, more than 60 people have died in almost 40 crashes because the Jeep Liberty they owned burst into flames after a rear-end accident. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) is responsible for assuring that the vehicles are safe, but FCA has a long history of denying that they pose any risk at all.
The simple truth is that vehicles are rear-ended every day. Rarely do the collisions cause a gas tank explosion. Only the poor design of the 2002-2007 Liberty explains why so many drivers and passengers have died agonizing deaths in Jeep fires following rear-end crashes.
FCA Agrees to Install Trailer Hitches on Jeep Liberty
After it became apparent that a design flaw placed occupants of the Jeep Liberty at risk, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration asked FCA to recall the Liberty. The NHTSA expressed similar concerns about certain model years of the Cherokee and Grand Cherokee.
FCA responded to the NHTSA request by just saying no. The company argued that the Jeep Liberty’s design posed no safety risk, notwithstanding the fireballs that regularly killed and injured Liberty occupants after rear-end crashes.
Relocating the gas tank to the front axle instead of the rear axle would be the logical solution to the design problem. Rather than putting safety first, FCA eventually agreed to recall the Liberty, but only to install a free trailer hitch. That relatively inexpensive proposal apparently satisfied NHTSA which, like many regulatory agencies in modern America, has little interest in standing up to powerful corporations and their lobbyists. In fact, a year after he signed off on the recall, NHTSA Administrator David Strickland took a lucrative job as a lobbyist with one of FCA’s law firms.
Since many original purchasers of the Jeep Liberty sold or traded their vehicles in, a large number of current owners have never been notified of the recall. In the end, FCA is liable for its dangerous Jeep Liberty design, whether or not owners take advantage of the NHTSA-approved recall.
Accident Victims Who Have a Trailer Hitch Installed Can Still Make a Claim When a Jeep Liberty Catches Fire
The late Clarence Ditlow, a leading crusader for auto safety, called the trailer hitch recall a sham. The evidence supports that opinion. Repairs or modifications to recalled vehicles are supposed to overcome design flaws, and the trailer hitch does not accomplish that goal. A senior FCA engineer admitted in a deposition that the trailer hitch does not protect the gas tank. In fact, the trailer hitch makes the Liberty less safe. Research shows that rear-end collisions often drive the trailer hitch receiver into the gas tank, causing a rupture.
Data compiled by the nonprofit Center for Auto Safety demonstrated that the trailer hitch does not prevent the Liberty from catching on fire after a rear-end collision. Liberty occupants continue to die because of FCA’s refusal to fix the problem it created by placing a plastic gas tank in a vulnerable position.
Accident victims who get burned in a Jeep Liberty fire, and families of victims who die because a Liberty gas tank exploded, can pursue a claim against FCA even if a trailer hitch was installed on their vehicle. Lawyers who handle Jeep Liberty explosions understand that FCA must be held accountable for marketing a vehicle with a dangerous design flaw. Contact a car accident lawyer to pursue a claim.