Chrysler Gas Tank Ruptures, Leads to Fatal Burns

(July 7, 2012)

A forty-eight year-old woman was driving her 2004 Chrysler Sebring through a construction zone. While she was stopped, the driver of another car who was texting while driving rear-ended the woman at 55 mph, rupturing the Sebring’s steel gas tank on impact. As a result, a fuel-induced fire combusted, leaving the victim with fatal burns. She leaves behind four adult children.

Due to state environmental regulations in California, Chrysler used steel for the Sebring’s gas tank, as opposed to the standard plastic tanks other states use. As a result of this tragedy, the victim’s children, as successors-in-interest to their deceased mother, sued Magna International, Inc., manufacturers of the steel gas tank, alleging that the metal in the steel shell was too thin to survive any foreseeable collision forces. They also sued the Chrysler dealership that previously sold the car, alleging that they also were responsible for defects in the tank in place of Chrysler, which was in bankruptcy.

They also included the driver of the other vehicle, alleging negligence and gross negligence. The children of the deceased victim ended up settling with Chrysler for an undisclosed amount during mediation. After a second mediation, the tank manufacturer settled for a confidential amount, and the other driver settled for policy limits of $100,000.

The children of the deceased had an expert prepared to testify, predicting – based on his finite elementary analysis (FEA) – that the Sebring’s gas tank wouldn’t survive an impact of 58 pounds per square inch (PSI), which is the number used on the original standard. The expert was also ready to testify that the metal tank would have survived an impact of 58 PSI had the metal been twice as thick as it was.

For more information, give one of our Gacovino Lake & Associates attorneys a call at 1-800-246-HURT (4878).

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