In 2012, what might have been a serious rear-end crash became a deadly one as a pick-up truck rear-ended the SUV and the latter vehicle burst into flames.. Remi Walden, a four-year-old child, could not be rescued from the back seat of his aunt’s car. He is one of 51 people who have died in a Chrysler SUV fire.
Remi was from Bainbridge, Georgia and that makes our state front and center in Chrysler’s decision to recall the vehicles. The sheer horror of this little boy’s death would warrant a look at the cause of these fires. As an Atlanta motor vehicle accident lawyer who has represented families who have lost loved ones, I can only imagine the small bit of solace that comes from the news today that Chrysler will recall many vehicles like the one Remi was riding in with his aunt.
The boy’s family has filed a lawsuit against, among others, the driver of the pickup. They allege in the litigation that the truck was following too closely when it slammed into the Jeep. The impact ruptured the Jeep’s gas tank and quickly ignited the SUV in flames. The child was sitting in a booster seat in the rear of the vehicle and could not be rescued.
Until today, the company had refused to recall the vehicles despite a request by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration urged that the Jeep’s gas tank could in fact rupture just as did in Remi’s case — and that could result in a fire.
The specific years, makes and models for the recall are Jeep Grand Cherokees from 1993 through 2004 and Jeep Libertys from 2002 through 2007. The manufacturer will be inspecting vehicles and will install trailer hitches to protect the gas tanks. Owners from these years with these models should make sure that they have their vehicle inspected. Some owners might have had a trailer hitch installed by another company, but they are entitled to have Chrysler install this for them to ensure their safety.
Despite their agreement to recall these vehicles, the company contends that these SUV’s are not defective. The federal government has disagreed with this position.
In Remi’s family’s case, the lawsuit alleges that the car manufacturer placed the gas tank precisely where it should not be … in the crumple zone of the vehicle. They claim that the company knew that it was dangerous, but failed to correct the situation. Chrysler denies this to be the case.
Cases like this and customer outcries have now led the company to relent on its prior refusal to recall the 2.7 million older Jeep Grand Cherokee and Liberty SUVs that might have a risk of a fuel tank fire on impact as Remi’s aunt’s SUV did.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a motor vehicle crash, you need expert advise to get through the difficult process of recovery. Please contact me at my law firm for a free consultation about your situation.