Arachnids and automobiles: when combining the two is dangerous

Insects; they’re definitely a part of life in the south. New Orleans residents may choose to have their houses regularly sprayed with insecticide or more vigilantly check their shoes for spiders than our neighbors to the north. Speaking of those little arachnids, even the non-poisonous ones might be more dangerous than one might think.

The danger we’re alluding to above applies to the drivers of Mazda6 midsize sedans that were manufactured in the model years 2010 through 2012. Spiders have actually been linked to a fire risk in the vehicles in which a 2.5-liter, four-cylinder engine was installed. A recall was recently issued affecting approximately 42,000 automobiles.

The readers of our New Orleans motor vehicle accidents law blog may be wondering just how in the world a tiny little spider could lead to an automobile fire. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released a statement in regards to the recall that included a detailed explanation of the possible defect.

What happens in this case is that the little spiders can crawl up into the vent hose that connects to the fuel tank. When they get up there, they start building their web, and even the tiny, thin threads can cause an obstruction that creates a pressure imbalance. The NHTSA statement noted that this “negative pressure could cause the fuel tank to crack, resulting in a fuel leak, increasing the risk of a fire.”

It may seem like an once-in-a-lifetime recall, but the truth is that this is the second time in less than five years in which Mazda was forced to issue a recall over spiders. The 2011 recall involved a specific species of spider, the yellow sac.

Has a personal injury lawsuit ever been filed in New Orleans over a car accident caused by an insect? A definitive answer to that question may require a little more research, but the question “could it?” is a little easier to answer. If this defect had led to a car accident injury, the answer is yes, it could become the basis of a potential claim for damages.

Source: Los Angeles Times, “42,000 more Mazda cars recalled because of spider problem,” David Undercoffler, April 7, 2014

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