Was the Jeep Recall Enough?
A fatal Jeep crash that has killed 58-year-old Vicki Hill of Ohio has raised questions about whether the automaker’s recall was enough to protect consumers. According to a report in the Legal Reader, Hill, a resident of Elyria, Ohio, was struck from behind by a 2003 Buick Century driven by Kristi Fitch on August 28, 2017. Hill’s vehicle caught fire. When emergency responders arrived, the fire was so intense that it prevented them from rescuing Hill. She burned to death. Fitch was rescued from her vehicle. Officials suspect excessive speed and impairment may have played a part in this rear-end collision.
Hill is the most recent victim of Jeep vehicles with fuel tanks that ignite in rear-end crashes. Her death has renewed the debate as to whether the 2013 recall repair was enough to protect American drivers and their passengers. In 2013, FCA agreed to install trailer hitches on these defectively designed Jeep vehicles after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) determined that the fuel tanks presented a risk of leaking and catching fire in rear-end crashes.
The Fix Doesn’t Help
The trailer hitches were supposed to provide protection against fiery crashes. The fuel tanks on the affected models were placed between the vehicles’ bumper and rear suspension leaving them vulnerable to igniting. The voluntary recall/repair campaign affected more than 1.5 million Jeep SUVs. Fifty deaths are linked to this vehicle defect. FCA says the recalled vehicles are safe and compliant with federal mandates. Despite this assertion, the company sent NHTSA a letter in 2013 citing five Jeep Liberty and 21 Jeep Grand Cherokee fatalities.
However, FCA’s records show that Hill’s Jeep Liberty did have the trailer hitch fix. Safety advocates have maintained that the trailer hitch fix is not sufficient. Hill’s death has proven that to be true. But FCA maintains that the 2007 Jeep Liberty meets or exceeds all applicable federal safety standards.
Auto Product Liability Issues
If you or someone you love has been injured in a crash involving a Jeep SUV, it is important that you preserve the vehicle unaltered so an expert can thoroughly examine it for defects, malfunctions and design flaws. Injured victims in such cases can seek compensation from the automaker for damages including medical expenses, lost income, permanent injuries, disabilities and pain and suffering. Families that have lost loved ones can file a wrongful death lawsuit seeking compensation as well. An experienced auto defect lawyer will be able to fight for victims’ rights and help ensure that the negligent automaker is held accountable.