In 2008, a wrongful death suit was filed against Chrysler by a man whose wife died when her 1996 Jeep Grand Cherokee caught fire after a rear-end collision. Chrysler has issued a recall of about 1.6 million Jeep Grand Cherokees and Liberty models because of the potential for fires in rear-impact accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) asked Chrysler for a larger recall last month.
Chrysler initially refused. However, in a rather surprising move, the automaker pitched a compromise to the NHTSA. Instead of recalling 1.6 million 2002-2007 Liberty and 1993-2004 Grand Cherokees models, it would install trailer hitches on 1.6 million recalled 2002-2007 Liberty and 1993-1998 Grand Cherokees models. For 1999-2004 Grand Cherokees, the automaker would not do anything for vehicles that had no hitch installed or had a factory hitch. If the vehicle had a non-factory hitch, the part would be inspected for any sharp edges. The company would also launch a “service campaign.”
Chrysler says the fires that have occurred in the Jeeps would have occurred in similar SUVs from the same time period during severe crashes. The Center for Auto Safety says that a trailer hitch is not a solution for the problem, though, maintaining that the fire hazard is still there. The safety group wants the NHTSA to crash-test the trailer hitch, which is thought to act like a lower bumper and keep the gas tank from being punctured during a rear-end collision.
The NHTSA has issued a statement, saying they believe Chrysler has addressed the safety problem adequately, but did not comment further. Several safety groups are wondering how the NHTSA could want Chrysler to recall so many of the Grand Cherokees last month and then determine that the recall is now not needed.
If you or a loved one have been injured in a car accident involving a defective motor vehicle, you should contact a Louisiana personal injury attorney. You have rights and your attorney will ensure those rights are protected. You may be entitled to financial compensation through a civil action for such claims as pain and suffering, medical expenses, lost wages and other damages.