It is a rare thing for a manufacturer to tell the US government “No” on a recall request. It is an even rarer thing when that manufacturer works in the automobile industry. But that is exactly what Chrysler is doing in regards to their Jeep Grand Cherokee and Jeep Liberty lines.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Jeep Grand Cherokees manufactured between 1993 and 2004, and Jeep Liberties manufactured from 2002 through 2007 have their gas tanks positioned in a place that, in the event of a rear-end collision, are more likely to rupture. This causes the stored gasoline to pour out and, assuming the presences of a spark or flame, both common in auto accidents, alight and engulf the vehicle.
The NHTSA began their investigation into this issue in 2009 at the behest of the Center for Auto Safety after that group found 201 fire crashes with 285 deaths involving the Grand Cherokees, and 36 accidents resulting in 53 deaths involving the Libertys. The Washington based public interest group had also contacted Chrysler directly to request the recall of these model years, but had also been told, “No.”
Chrysler, for its part, claim that all the noted accidents occurred in high-speed, high-energy collisions, where placement of the fuel tanks wouldn’t have changed the outcome of the crash. They also dispute the Center’s figures and state that the number of deaths resulting from these accidents is being overstated.
Regardless of the company’s statements, and despite the warnings they have been issued by both the Center for Auto Safety and the NHTSA, 2.7 million of these vehicles still remain on the road. And according to the US Census Bureau there are nearly 11 million automobile crashes per year. We can see that it is only a matter of time until another one occurs involving a Jeep Grand Cherokee or Jeep Liberty and resulting in another conflagration on the side of the road, likely with more dying in the process.
The question now is where Chrysler stands when lawsuits against them are undoubtedly filed. They have been notified that there is a question about the safety of their vehicles. They have, seemingly, gone on record as stating they are aware of the potential risk. Yet, they have chosen not to follow up on the safety recommendations they have received and acknowledged.
This acknowledgement would seem to give the plaintiffs in future lawsuits a better ground to stand on when filing a suit against Chrysler. Only time, and the outcome of those cases will tell.
If you or anyone in your family have been injured or killed as the result of an auto accident, please contact us. We will review the facts of your case and work with you to get you the compensation you deserve.
Wooten Kimbrough, P.A. Orlando Auto Accident Attorneys