Imagine yourself driving, enjoying the open roads around Santa Barbara; you feel stress slip off your shoulders. Unexpectedly, black smoke begins to roll out from under your hood. Your car is on fire and you’re in the middle of the freeway. How did this happen? What do you do?
While the idea of a car fire may be frightening, there are warning signs to watch out for, maintenance you can do, and prompt actions you should take if a fire does occur.
What Causes Car Fires?
Car fires can happen as a result of a serious vehicle collision, but they are typically due to some kind of mechanical failure. Design flaws in a vehicle can make a car fire more likely, or ignite an already dangerous situation like a crash. Improper maintenance, such as a car owner failing to get routine oil changes or ignoring damage to the vehicle, can also lead to a fire. More directly, things like spilled fluids, faulty electrical systems, and fuel system leaks often cause a fire under the hood or inside the cabin of a vehicle.
How Can You Avoid Car Fires?
The good news is that many car fires can be prevented before a fire ever occurs—although not all. It’s important to get routine maintenance on your vehicle. Make a special trip if you notice anything that looks like exposed or frayed electrical wires. When maintenance is done, be watchful for spilled fluids. Have your electrical and fuel systems checked when you get regular maintenance done.
What Do You Do If Your Car Ignites?
First of all, if your car starts smoking or catches fire while you are driving it, do not panic. In a safe manner, pull over to the nearest side of the road as quickly as you can. Once you come to a stop, turn off your vehicle, and exit the vehicle. Get a safe distance away, at least 100 feet, to avoid potentially toxic fumes, and contact emergency services. Try to warn other drivers away as safely as you can, and do not let anyone approach your vehicle unless that person is a trained emergency professional.
After a Car Fire, Now What?
Depending on your insurance coverage, you may be able to file a claim for the damage to your vehicle with your insurance company. If the fire was caused by a faulty piece of equipment or an error made by a mechanic, you might be able to file a lawsuit against the liable party. For that, an experienced Santa Barbara product liability attorney will be helpful. Call NordstrandBlack PC at (805) 962-2022 to discuss your case.