Pursuing Compensation After a Car Fire in California

vehicle fire A car fire can be a frightening experience, especially if it occurs after a crash and you are still near the fire or even stuck inside your vehicle. Not only can you suffer a burn injury, but you may also inhale smoke and other toxic fumes. There may be nothing you can do to stop the fire.

If your vehicle caught fire and you suffered an injury, you may be able to pursue compensation. Call our Sacramento-based vehicle accident lawyers today. We offer a free legal consultation, and there are no upfront fees.

Below, we discuss why car fires occur and what your legal options may be after it happens. Medical treatment for burn injuries can be extremely expensive, so it is important to pursue any compensation that may be available. Treatment may help lessen pain associated with your injuries and improve quality of life.

Why Do Cars Catch Fire?

According to the U.S. Fire Administration (UFA), one out of every eight calls to fire departments across the nation are due to vehicle fires. These are some of the common causes of car fires:


When two vehicles collide with enough force, flammable fluids may spill. All it takes is a spark for those fluids to go up in flames. About 60 percent of all fatal collisions are due to vehicle fires.

According to the UFA, electric vehicles with high-voltage lithium batteries pose a unique hazard for vehicle fires. There is an increased risk of:

  • Thermal runaway – a phenomenon in which the lithium-ion cell enters an uncontrollable, self-heating state that can make it difficult to extinguish the fire
  • Stranded energy – the remaining energy in a cell after efforts to safely discharge it from a damaged lithium-ion battery, which can affect when it is safe to remove the battery
  • Battery reignition – the stranded energy in the battery makes it easier for the fire to reignite

Poor Maintenance

Vehicle owners who fail to keep up with regular maintenance may not catch a faulty valve, broken hose or other damage to their vehicles that could lead to a fire. Worn electrical wiring and leaking fluids create a catalyst for vehicle fires.

Manufacturing Issues

Millions of vehicles are recalled annually due to fire risks. Whether it is due to faulty wiring, damaged fuel lines or hoses, or some other mechanical issue.

Sometimes a recall gets issued, but the owner of the vehicle fails to take the car in for repairs.

Careless Smoking

People who smoke inside their vehicles can unknowingly cause a fire, especially if their vehicle is leaking flammable fluids. Car fires at gas stations due to careless smoking are also possible.

What Are the Common Types of Burn Injuries From Car Fires?

Victims of car fires may experience first, second or third-degree burns caused by:

  • Thermal burns
  • Chemical burns
  • Electrical burns

A first-degree burn only damages the outermost layer of the skin, but victims may experience significant pain and discomfort. Second- and third-degree burns cause the most damage, so victims may scar or suffer permanent disfigurement.

Inhaling the smoke from the fire is also hazardous and may result in lung damage. Especially if the smoke is filled with toxic chemicals.

Who May Be Liable for Car Fire Damages?

To pursue compensation after a car fire, you must prove another party’s negligence resulted in your damages. Some parties that are often liable for car fires include:

Other Drivers

If a collision resulted in a car fire and you were injured, you have the right to pursue compensation from the at-fault driver.

Proving the car fire is a direct result of the crash can be tricky. The collision may not have been why your vehicle or the other driver’s vehicle caught fire.

Our attorneys can investigate your claim to determine the cause of the fire. Even if the collision did not cause the fire, it is possible negligent vehicle maintenance is the cause. You may be able to pursue compensation from the owner of the vehicle.


Our attorneys are prepared to help you pursue compensation from a negligent manufacturer if a faulty part is what sparked the fire.

These cases are often more complex, and the manufacturers have additional resources to combat your claim. It may be in your best interest to work with a knowledgeable attorney.

Some Other Third Party

Vehicle fires do not just occur on the highway, especially in California where wildfires are so common. If your vehicle is engulfed in flames and you suffer damages, you still have the right to pursue compensation.

If a careless smoker caused a vehicle fire in a gas station and you were injured, you may be able to pursue compensation from his or her insurance. If there were no precautions taken by the gas station to prevent people from smoking, the property owner may also bear some liability.

What Are My Legal Options After a Car Fire?

You have the right to pursue compensation for any damages you suffer due to another party’s negligence, including the negligence of another driver, product manufacturer or business.

If your claim is denied, or the insurance company does not negotiate, you may be able to file a lawsuit. It would be in your best interest to work with an attorney, particularly one who has taken cases to court and been successful.

Call Us Today to Discuss Legal Action

At the Arnold Law Firm, our attorneys have decades of combined experience, and we have recovered millions on behalf of our clients.

We do not charge you anything while we work on your case, and there are no fees unless we win.

Call us today to schedule a free consultation: 916-777-7777.