The safety of the Ford Crown Victoria, which comprises about 85 percent of the police cruiser market, has been a concern for departments nationwide over the past few years. Numerous tests have shown that the Crown Victoria's fuel-tank design is defective. The placement of the tank behind the rear axle, according to safety experts, places the vehicle at an increased risk of catching fire after a rear-end collision
. As of 2003, fuel tank
fires in Crown Victorias following high-speed rear-end collisions had killed at least 12 police officers.
The vehicle's safety has been the subject of several lawsuits
filed by the families of officers killed or seriously injured in rear-end collision fires. In October 2002, the city of Dallas sued Ford Motor Company after police officer Patrick Metzler was killed when his Crown Victoria burst into flames after it was rear-ended. An investigation revealed the accident caused the car's gas tank to be punctured. The families of two Arizona police officers who died when their Crown Victoria cruisers were rear-ended and caught fire settled lawsuits with Ford Motor Company in May 2002. Two similar lawsuits involving the Ford model were recently settled in Massachusetts and Florida, and several suits in other states are currently pending. In July 2003, Dallas officials revealed that Ford's Trunk Packs, devices recently designed to protect the Crown Victoria's fuel system from damage, may actually increase fuel leaks after an accident. According to Dallas City Attorney Madeleine Johnson, in a test conducted by city officials, a Crown Victoria equipped with a Trunk Pack leaked 7.6 gallons of fuel after being rear-ended, 7.3 gallons more than when a Ford Victoria built without a Trunk Pack was rear-ended in a 2002 test. Ford began shipping the safety devices to a number of police departments in 2003.
In August 2003, Ford announced that it will offer fire-suppression technology on all 2005 model year Crown Victorias. Due to possible computer system errors, Ford is unable to replace existing fuel systems with new suppression devices.
If you have been injured in an automobile fire, it may be important for you to contact an attorney
who can help you protect your legal rights. Please keep in mind that there may be time limits
within which you must commence suit.
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