Flooded Vehicles Are a Serious Safety Risk

Many Water-Damaged Cars Remain on the Market

Texas experienced record rainfall last May. At least 35 people died and numerous others were injured as a result of flooding conditions in our region. Hundreds of drivers were involved in accidents or were swept away in flash floods on Texas’s treacherous roadways. Standing water presented one of the biggest problems for drivers who found their vehicles submerged when they attempted to drive through seemingly shallow water.

Unsafe conditions still linger more than a month after the waters’ receded, that of water-damaged cars. Vehicles are built to withstand heavy rain, but not to become fully submerged in water. The water can cause substantial damage to the electrical, mechanical and computerized components that affect steering, brakes, airbags and other vital functions of the car. Small, hidden components are often affected by water, so a car that looks O.K. might actually be in serious risk of an accident.

The industry-funded antifraud group National Insurance Crime Bureau estimates that between 7,000 and 10,000 insured cars in Texas sustained water damages up until early June. Although these vehicles are supposed to be taken off the roads, many are not. In fact, the National Association of Insurance Commissioners issued a consumer alert about thousands of submerged vehicles that were abandoned in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Texas during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita that may still be on the market today.

Texas Law Requires Flooding Designation on Title of Water-Damaged Car

An insurance company issues a salvage title to vehicles it deems not worth repairing. Texas law requires the title to specify flood damage in the title if the vehicle has been submerged in water. These flood-damaged cars are typically sold for scrap and usable parts that did not sustain damage.

Cars that are uninsured or that have instead been cleaned up by the owner are impossible to track. An unscrupulous dealer might even switch an undamaged vehicle’s VIN for that of an undamaged car to obtain a clean title in another state. These vehicles often end up back on the market with no warning as to the substantial problems that linger underneath the hood. The damage may not become obvious for many years, even though the risks of dangerous failure are immediate.

Risks of Driving a Water-Damaged Car

Water creeps into every part of a submerged vehicle. The level of damage depends upon the length of submersion and content of the water — whether salt water or filled with debris or corrosive chemicals, for example. Once the water has invaded the vehicle’s computer system and its electrical and mechanical parts, the car begins to rot and cause accident risks associated with malfunctioning:

  • Fuel line
  • Brake system
  • Power steering system
  • Brakes
  • Airbags inflation

Berenson Law Firm Helps You Recover for an Accident caused by a Flood-Damaged Car

Berenson Law Firm takes on complex accident cases, including those involving water-damaged vehicles. Call our DFW office for a free consultation at 817-885-8000.

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