Defective Airbags Lead to More Automobile Recalls

by The Rothenberg Law Firm LLP

Automobile recalls have been a hot topic in the news lately.  Indeed, millions of vehicles have been recalled due to dangerous automobile defects.  Adding to the list of recalled cars and trucks, a recent article in the Wall Street Journal reported that Honda, Nissan, Mazda, and other automakers are recalling vehicles with potentially defective air bags.  According to the article, the airbags “could explode under certain circumstances.”  Automobile defects can result in life-threatening and fatal injuries, and the defective airbags at issue are no different.

News of this recall comes after earlier efforts to find and fix potentially defective airbag inflators made by Takata Corp.  Takata is a Tokyo-based manufacturer of airbags, and it supplies airbags and other supplies to automakers throughout Japan and across the globe.  Indeed, in addition to problems in Honda, Nissan, and Mazda models, other automakers that have recalled vehicles because of the airbag defect include Toyota, Dodge, Ford, and BMW.

Since 2009 alone, Takata airbag inflators have resulted in the recall of about 10 million automobiles. Moreover, in six separate incidents, Takata reported that the airbag’s “cylinder-shaped inflators exploded, sending metal fragments flying.”  One of those accidents occurred last summer, when “a one-inch piece of metal propelled from an exploding airbag and hit the right eye of the driver of a 2005 Honda Civic.”  The driver lost sight in his eye and sustained serious facial lacerations for which he needed 100 stitches.

What is causing the airbags to explode?  According to Takata, humidity and hot climates may have some effect on the airbags. 

Airbags and Passenger Safety

Even when airbags are not defective, they can cause serious injuries to passengers.  These devices are intended to prevent deadly injuries when car accidents happen, but they can lead to other injuries when they deploy. 

How do air bags injure passengers?  The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) explains that older airbags in particular tended to cause moderate to severe injuries during deployment.  Indeed, between the years of 1990-2009, “more than 290 deaths were caused by frontal airbag inflation in low-speed crashes.” 

How can you reduce your chances of injury from airbags?  As long as you do not have a defective airbag, the IIHS recommends the following:

  • Wear your seatbelt;
  • Sit in the center of your seat with your back against the seat and your feet on the floor;
  • Do not rest your arms or legs on an airbag; and
  • Keep areas around your automobile’s airbags free from objects that could prevent the airbags from deploying or that could turn into dangerous projectiles when the air bag does deploy.

Legal Recourse:

Given the high incidence of recalls associated with Takata products, it is essential for every automobile owner to be aware of the latest recalls. If your vehicle is subject to a recall, contact your dealer or manufacturer immediately to make sure your vehicle is safe to drive. Automobile manufacturers have a duty to consumers to make sure that all of their products are safe for use at all times. If a manufacturers produces a defective product, consumers have the right to sue for any damages they suffer as a result of the product. If you have been injured by a defective airbag, regardless of the automobile manufacturer, you may be able to seek financial compensation. Contact an attorney today to learn more about your rights.

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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The Rothenberg Law Firm LLP

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