The wrongful death trial of Remington Walden could renew the National Highway Traffic Safety Administrations (NHTSA) push for a massive recall of older Jeep models whose fuel tanks are allegedly prone to catching fire during an auto accident.
Four-year-old Remington was in a booster seat in the back seat of a 1999 Jeep Grand Cherokee that was involved in a rear-end collision. The SUV erupted into flames after the accident and the young boy could not be saved in time due to the fire that erupted.
Court filings are alleging that Fiat Chrysler, the manufacturer of Jeep models, knew of the danger as the fuel tanks placement is only 11 inches from the rear bumper.
In 2013, the NHTSA requested that Chrysler Fiat recall more than 2.7 million Jeep Grand Cherokees and Liberty SUVs to address safety problems with the vehicles fuel systems. Chrysler rejected the request and only two other models were recalled.
Regulators investigated the reason fuel tanks in some Grand Cherokee and Liberty models were rupturing and igniting. The NHTSA noted that the fuel tanks in these vehicles were within the two-foot crush zone and, as a result of putting the gasoline tank between the axle and bumper rather than in the front axle, the vehicles were less safe. After fighting the recall with the NHTSA, Fiat Chrysler agreed to add tow hitches to about 1.5 million vehicles to resolve the issue.
Since 1998, about 75 fatalities have allegedly been linked to Jeep models, including the death of a 23-year-old pregnant woman from Detroit, MI who was involved in a rear-end crash in November 2014.
Despite the announcement of a recall more than a year and a half ago, many vehicle owners have not brought their vehicles in to be repaired. Fiat Chrysler executives have noted that finding owners of vehicles that are seven to 20 years old is difficult.
The personal injury lawyers at Goldberg Finnegan will continue to monitor this story as the conclusion of this wrongful death case may encourage those who have been injured or a lost a family member to file a lawsuit.
If you or your loved one was in an accident made worse by a vehicle defect, you could have a claim against the manufacturer. Find out more, and protect your legal rights by contacting an experienced product liability attorney at Goldberg Finnegan today.