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Hi all,

Does a owner have any liability if their car catches on fire. I'm sure GM has a lot of liability, but I am also concerned about my liability. I live in a Mountain Community and my neighbor is concerned about what would happen if my Bolt caught on fire and it spread beyond my house. It could potential destroy hundreds of homes.

Todd
 

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I can't speak to liability but per https://static.nhtsa.gov/odi/rcl/2020/RCLRPT-20V701-7407.PDF, there are 5 Bolt fires likely related to HV battery before the interim (and now final fix). We might have a recent 6th one, but still don't have details as if it was battery defect related.

In comparison, per page 2 of https://www.nfpa.org/-/media/Files/...nd-reports/US-Fire-Problem/osvehiclefires.pdf, there were 182K highway vehicle fires in the US in a year, which is would mean an average of almost 500 per year.
 

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I think it goes without saying that you should consult with an attorney for questions of this nature.

Six battery fires out of ~55k Bolts.

I wonder what the odds are on a neighborhood fire being started by either human activity or lightning strike, as opposed to a Bolt battery fire?

My speculation is much less probability than the above battery fire odds. It isn’t worth worrying about, or you could stay at 90% or less SOC to sleep better. I wouldn’t want to have the finger pointed at me if it did catch the neighborhood on fire, so there is that also.
 

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The "Deep Pocket" theory applies to this question. When something happens, lawyers always look for the deepest pockets to collect for damages. Usually, people only have so much wealth, so then they go after the Insurance company for bad faith settlement attempts. You would be surprised how many juries award damages far in excess of insurance policy limits on the idea that the insurance company acted in bad faith by not covering full damages.

GM has pockets as deep, if not deeper than many insurers. You can bet lawyers would attempt to make GM responsible, at least partially for losses. But, don't forget, everyone should already have home insurance, so the battles would be between insurance companies, and GM, typically not the individuals.
 

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neighbor is concerned about what would happen if my Bolt caught
FYI, this is just a search of the last 7 days. I think the better question to ask him is what should you do when his car catches on fire. Then ask if he has stopped exposing himself to children at the park.






 

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Unless you're doing something negligent like not calling the fire department after seeing your car smouldering, you'd have no liability.

The other neighbors have fire insurance, so their property is covered even if you did something stupid like fall asleep on their couch while smoking a cigarette. Insurance covers negligent behavior.
 

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Liability is what the courts and insurance companies decide applies. There are all sorts of ways to get in trouble, which is why there are lawyers.

Another way to have a problem is if a fire starts on your property (including in your car) and spreads to other property. Starting a larger fire can be bad news. So exercise a little good judgement about where you park a Bolt, until the fire mystery gets cleared up one way or another.

Unfortunately, good judgement comes from experience; experience comes from bad judgement.
 

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With the Ford "ignition switch" fire issue that happened in the 90s or so, I do think that there were some insurance companies that turned around and sued Ford for some of the damages they had to pay out.
So, there could be liability for damage, but it wouldn't be the car owner who was responsible.
 

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Your neighbor sounds overdramatic.
The neighbor is possibly being overdramatic about the chance of a Bolt catching fire, but not about the consequences of a fire in WUI in the West. Not sure which mountain community the OP is in, but in CA, OR and WA, vegetation is at historically low moisture levels, and in difficult terrain, a fire can get out of hand very quickly. I was close to the CZU complex last year, which burned nearly 100k acres, and it was an apocalyptic feeling month. The smoke that made it into our house was regularly setting off the smoke detectors. You better believe the neighbors are sensitive to possible sources of ignition in my community, and if some idiot is running their flail mower over rocky ground midday, they're likely to get feedback.

I think the likelihood of my 2017 combusting is pretty darn low, but I am taking extra precautions until a credible RCA is completed.
 
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