Many Tennessee readers will remember last year’s large-scale recall of more than 1.5 million vehicles manufactured by Chrysler Group LLC. Those vehicles — Jeep Liberty and Jeep Cherokee SUVs — were recalled due to the risk of catching fire if struck by another vehicle from the rear. The recall was issued in an effort to protect owners from injury or death that can result from the operation of unsafe motor vehicles.
Owners of affected vehicles were urged to bring their SUVs in to have a trailer hitch installed. This alteration was believed to offer a higher degree of protection to the gas tank in the event of a rear impact accident. However, the alteration does not completely eliminate the risk that such an impact could cause serious damage to the vehicle, including the risk of fire or an explosion.
One recent crash involving a Jeep Liberty will likely result in a lawsuit against the automotive manufacturer. A 23-year-old woman was killed when her 2003 Jeep Liberty was struck from behind. The vehicle was quickly engulfed in flames, leading to the woman’s death. At the time of the accident, she was in the third trimester of pregnancy.
Police believe that the driver who struck the woman’s Jeep was not paying attention to traffic patterns and was unable to stop in time to avoid a collision. However, the family has hired an attorney to pursue a lawsuit against the manufacturer of the Jeep, claiming that the company sold unsafe motor vehicles. An argument may be made that the vehicle presents an undue risk of fire in the event of such a collision, even if the trailer hitch had been installed. An executive director of a consumer advocacy group reviewed photos of the vehicle involved in the crash and stated that it appears that the striking vehicle went up under the bumper of the Jeep, in which case a trailer hitch would have made no difference in the outcome. Drivers in Tennessee and elsewhere should always stay abreast of recall news that could affect their vehicles.