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Mother of Pennsylvania Toddler Killed in Jeep Cherokee Gas Tank Fire Sues Chrysler

What happened:

The mother of twenty-two month old Cole Hazelton, who was killed when the Jeep Cherokee they were in exploded into flames after another car plowed into their vehicle, has filed a lawsuit against Chrysler Group LLC., the company that manufactures Cherokees.

According to a report in the Times-Tribune, the lawsuit alleges that "improper positioning" of the Cherokee's fuel tank caused it to "burst into flames" after the other car hit them. The accident happened in May, 2011 in Ransom Township, PA.  As Angela Hazelton, who was 21 years-old at the time of the accident, was driving south on Dark Region Road, a Ford Focus hit the rear of the Cherokee, causing it to spin into a grass embankment.

The Cherokee's fuel tank, located below the rear bumper – also known as the “crush zone” - released gas and the vehicle to burst into flames. The baby’s father, who was in the passenger’s seat, was able to pull the mother to safety, but was unable to get to the baby, who was in the back seat, out of the burning car.

The lawsuit says that none of the occupants in the Cherokee were hurt upon the impact of the accident and that any and all injuries were the result of the fire.


North Carolina Injury Lawyer Perspective:

This complaint against Chrysler says that the company showed negligence by marketing a vehicle that is not "reasonably safe," failing to test and inspect the vehicle, and then not recalling the Cherokee despite having "actual or constructive knowledge" that rear impact collisions resulted in passengers being seriously injured and or killed, and that it was the negligence and careless acts and omissions that were the direct cause of the toddler’s death.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that, from 1993 to 2004, Jeep Cherokees have been involved in 172 car accidents that resulted in 254 deaths nationwide. The Center of Auto Safety even petitioned the NHTSA to recall the defective vehicles. Yet these vehicles are still on the road. How many more lives, such as the life of this little boy’s, will be tragically taken before action is taken?


Dark Region Road, Ransom Township, PA

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Helpful Info:

Our firm published an in-depth legal guide on the North Carolina wrongful death claims process. Read it here.

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