In 2012, the family of a deceased 4-year-old boy was awarded $150 million in wrongful death damages by a Georgia jury. The boy was killed after his family's Jeep Grand Cherokee was struck from behind and erupted into flames. Unfortunately, the little boy could not escape the vehicle and he died.
According to safety advocates, approximately 269 more individuals died as a result of similar events. Safety reformers claim that a design defect that resulted in a poorly placed fuel tank is to blame for these deadly infernos. Safety advocates say that the poor placement causes the fuel tank to be behind the back axel of the Jeeps; this area is usually referred to as the vehicle's crush zone.
The Ford Pinto, another car that gained a reputation for being at risk of sudden combustion in a rearward collision, had the exact same placement of his gas tank. The Jeeps were later recalled, but only after Ralph Nader brought attention to them in 2011. Nader referred to the dangerous Jeep as "a modern day Pinto for soccer moms."
What is worse, though, is the fact that the recall was delayed for years while the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration studied the matter, and Chrysler continued to resist the recall. Later, Chrysler agreed to install a bumper hitch on all cars with the dangerous gas tank placement. The idea was that the hitch would protect the fuel tank in a collision, but it is largely recognized as a band-aid, less-than-complete political fix, rather than a scientifically proven solution.
Los Angeles residents with Jeep Grand Cherokees may want to consider whether their vehicles are safe to drive and have them evaluated by a professional mechanic. Also, considering the millions of motor vehicles that have been recalled in recent years, motorists may want to get their vehicles checked out regardless the make, model and year.