A car fire is a harrowing enough experience; when the fire produces painful burn injuries, often with severe complications, the suffering can be long-lasting. But if there’s any good news, it’s that your burn injuries are almost always considered “permanent” under NJ Rev Stat § 39:6A-8 (2013), which means that New Jersey law does not limit you to recovery of economic losses. If you have a personal injury case, you can also sue for your pain and suffering. The question is whether there is someone you can sue. This answer may depend on whether you owned the car or whether you were simply a passenger. Consider these scenarios:
- You are riding in a car that is struck by a negligent or reckless driver. The car crashes into a fixed object. The engine is smashed, igniting an oil fire. You escape with severe burns to your arms and hands. Here, you may sue the negligent driver. You may also be able to sue the manufacturer of the vehicle you rode in if the car performed below industry standards in the crash due to a defect and the defect caused the fire.
- You are riding in a new car when the engine suddenly bursts into flames. Because the vehicle is new, the owner is probably not at fault unless he has done something to modify the engine and that modification caused the fire. Most likely, a defective auto part sparked the fire, so you would have to sue the manufacturer.
- You are riding in an old car when the engine bursts into flames. Fires in older cars generally result from faulty maintenance. Leaks in the oil lines provide the fuel, and an overheated engine supplies the spark. In this case, it matters whether the car is yours or you are just a passenger. The owner is responsible for maintenance and probably has no one to sue, unless he recently had some work done on the engine and got a clean bill of health from a negligent or fraudulent mechanic. A passenger could sue the negligent owner of the vehicle.
Burn injures can be catastrophic. Victims can suffer significant disfigurement due to scarring, they may require painful skin grafts, and they may also be at risk for deadly infections. Severe burns can also make limb amputation necessary. If you are burned in an auto accident, it is crucially important that you consult an experienced injury attorney who can help you recover the maximum amount of damages possible.
If you’ve been injured in a car crash in Bergen County or anywhere in New Jersey, Seigel Law is ready to help. Contact us online or call 201.444.4000 today for a free consultation and case evaluation.