Stellantis is issuing a recall for approximately 132,000 Jeep Cherokee SUVs due to a fire hazard associated with an electrical problem in the hatch, as announced by federal safety regulators on May 16, 2023. The parent company, Chrysler, revealed that certain Jeep Cherokee models manufactured between 2014 and 2016 might possess an electrical short in their power liftgate module, which could result in the vehicles catching fire regardless of whether the engine is running. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) released a recall notice regarding this issue. Fortunately, no accidents or injuries related to the recall have been reported thus far.
The power liftgate module is an electronically operated hatch commonly found on SUVs. In the affected Jeep Cherokee vehicles, the recalled liftgate module contains a vulnerable area that can permit water leakage, as stated in the recall documentation. Consequently, owners of the affected models are advised to park their vehicles outside and away from structures to mitigate the risk of unexpected fires, which could potentially harm individuals outside the vehicle and cause property damage. Stellantis is actively working on developing a solution for the power liftgate problem, although a specific timeline for the availability of the fix has not been provided at this time.
Notification letters for affected owners are scheduled to be sent out on June 30, 2023.
This recent recall supersedes a previous one that was issued in 2015 for the same models. The 2015 recall addressed an issue related to electrical corrosion resulting from water leakage into the module. Vehicles that were previously repaired under the initial recall will still require further repairs under the new recall once the remedy becomes accessible.
Fiat Chrysler initiated an investigation into the power liftgate module in January 2022 following an increase in reports concerning cargo compartment fires in the 2014 and 2015 Jeep Cherokee models. By April 2023, the company had recorded 50 customer assistance reports regarding problems with these vehicles, as outlined in the recall documents.
If any Jeep Cherokee owner affected by the recall previously paid for repairs out of pocket, they have the option to submit a receipt for the work completed and be reimbursed by Fiat Chrysler.
For any inquiries or concerns, Jeep Cherokee owners can contact Fiat Chrysler directly at 1-800-853-1403, making sure to reference the recall number 49A. Additionally, owners may reach out to the NHTSA safety hotline at 1-888-327-4236 or send a text to 1-800-424-9153. Alternatively, they can visit NHTSA.gov/recalls for further information.
Filing a Product Liability Lawsuit
If an individual has been injured or suffered property loss due to a fire resulting from the defect in the power liftgate module of the Jeep Cherokee SUV, they may consider filing a product liability lawsuit against Stellantis or Chrysler. To pursue such a legal claim, several key elements must be established:
- Defective Product: The plaintiff must demonstrate that the power liftgate module in their Jeep Cherokee had a design defect, manufacturing defect, or inadequate warning about potential hazards, which resulted in the fire and subsequent injuries or property damage.
- Causation: It is necessary to establish a direct link between the defect in the power liftgate module and the fire incident. Expert testimony and evidence showing the connection between the defect and the fire will strengthen the case.
- Injury or Property Loss: The plaintiff must have suffered injuries or property damage directly caused by the fire. Medical records, photographs, repair bills, and other relevant documentation can serve as evidence of the losses incurred.
- Duty of Care: The plaintiff needs to establish that Stellantis or Chrysler had a duty to design and manufacture a safe and reliable power liftgate module for their vehicles. This duty arises from the responsibility of manufacturers to produce products that are reasonably safe for consumer use and to adequately warn consumers about any known risks.
- Breach of Duty: The plaintiff must prove that Stellantis or Chrysler breached their duty of care by either designing a defective power liftgate module, manufacturing it incorrectly, or failing to provide sufficient warnings about the fire hazard associated with the module.
- Damages: The plaintiff should provide evidence of the injuries sustained or the property loss suffered as a result of the fire caused by the defective power liftgate module. This can include medical records, repair bills, property damage assessments, and any other relevant documentation.
To initiate a product liability lawsuit, it is advisable to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney who specializes in product liability cases. The attorney will review the details of the incident, gather necessary evidence, and guide the plaintiff through the legal process.
In the lawsuit, the plaintiff may seek various types of compensation, including:
- Medical Expenses: Reimbursement for medical bills, hospital stays, surgeries, medication, therapy, and other healthcare-related costs resulting from the injuries caused by the fire.
- Lost Income: Compensation for lost wages or income if the plaintiff was unable to work due to the injuries sustained in the fire incident.
- Property Damage: Reimbursement for the repair or replacement costs of any damaged property, such as vehicles, personal belongings, or home structures damaged by the fire.
- Pain and Suffering: Compensation for physical pain, emotional distress, and the overall negative impact on the plaintiff’s quality of life resulting from the injuries and trauma experienced.
- Punitive Damages: In certain cases where the defendant’s conduct is deemed particularly egregious or malicious, the court may award punitive damages to punish the manufacturer and deter similar conduct in the future.
It is important to note that the specific requirements, deadlines, and procedures for filing a product liability lawsuit may vary depending on the jurisdiction and the circumstances of the case. Seeking legal advice promptly will ensure that the rights of the injured party are protected and that they have the best chance of recovering the compensation they deserve.
CONTACT PARKER WAICHMAN LLP TODAY FOR A FREE CONSULTATION
Be sure to get the legal help you need for your Jeep Cherokee fire case. Contact Parker Waichman, LLP today by calling their toll-free number 1-800-YOUR-LAWYER (1-800-968-7529). Our experienced product liability attorneys are standing by to provide a free case evaluation and help you take the first steps toward obtaining the justice and compensation you deserve.
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