The injuries that you suffered in your car fire were not your fault. You couldn’t have prepared for what happened to you. Once the fire started, it was difficult to get out of the car without suffering an injury. While you didn’t start the fire, you are paying the physical, emotional, and financial price for someone else’s negligence. You will continue to pay these costs until you can prove who started the fire, why they were negligent, and the value of your damages.
Car Fire Statistics
There were approximately 193,500 vehicle fires in the United States during 2014, according to the United States Fire Administration. In that year, which is the most recent year for which national statistics are available, vehicle fires accounted for almost 14% of all fires in the U.S. Two years later, in 2016, the state of Alaska reported 446 motor vehicle fires. This was the lowest number since 2012, but still significant; on average , firefighters responded to Alaska motor vehicle fires every 20 hours throughout the year.
Common Causes of Car Fires
Generally, there are two potential causes of car fires. A car fire may occur because of a driver’s negligence or because of a defective auto part. For example, a car fire may develop because of:
- A collision. A collision may damage the fuel tank or another part of the vehicle and cause a fire or explosion.
- A defective fuel tank. A defective fuel tank may leak gas or explode.
- Faulty wiring. If wires short-circuit or electronics within the vehicle are defective, then a fire could start.
- An exhaust system defect. Defects in the exhaust system can cause fires.
- Another vehicle defect. A problem with heated seats, for example, could cause a fire.
- Smoking in the vehicle. If someone is smoking in a vehicle then a fire could start if that person is negligent or of if a collision occurs.
These types of defects and accidents can result in significant burn injuries either due to fire or due to gas, oil, or other hot and dangerous substances coming into contact with the skin.
Different Types of Burn Injuries Caused by Car Fires
Burn injuries are categorized in different stages according to the severity of the injury. In a car fire, you could suffer from a:
- First degree burn. First degree burns only impact the outer layer of skin. Skin may become warm and painful. However, the burn typically heals on its own within a few days.
- Second degree burn. Second degree burns involve two layers of skin—the epidermis and dermis. These burns are painful. They may blister and ooze. It can take a few weeks for them to heal, and medical help may be necessary.
- Third degree burn. Third degree burns involve both layers of skin and may also involve the nerve endings, bones, muscles, and tendons. Skin may appear charred or leathery. Damage to the nerve endings may keep third degree burns from being painful, but these burns are serious medical conditions. They often require skin grafts and result in permanent scarring. A complete recovery may take many months.
- Fourth degree burn. Fourth degree burns go through all the layers of skin and fat and impact the muscle and bone. These burns may be fatal.
Your recovery will depend, in part, on the type of burn that you suffered.
Facing the Future After a Car Fire Injury
While your physical recovery will be unique, it is important to be prepared for the potentially significant impact of a burn injury. You may need to be hospitalized to:
- Manage the pain.
- Repair the skin with skin grafts.
- Prevent dangerous infections.
- Minimize scarring.
Even with the best medical attention, you may be left with a lifelong disfigurement.
While you can’t go back and prevent the fire, there are steps that you can take now to protect your future. You can contact an experienced lawyer who can conduct a full investigation to determine what caused your fire and whether you may have a legal claim against another driver, the car manufacturer, a maintenance worker, or another party. Your lawyer will review all of your options with you and work hard to get you the full and fair recovery that you deserve. To learn more, please contact us today via this website or by phone to schedule your free, confidential consultation.