by: Lynn A. Toops, Attorney
In 1998, a law was passed that required all cars and light trucks sold in the United States to have air bags on both sides of the front seat to help protect passengers from injuries in the event of an accident. No doubt countless lives have been saved by these devices. However, four recent deaths and numerous injuries related to the deployment of air bags have raised some questions about the manufacture of these devices and passenger safety.
Air bag class action lawsuit filed
A class action lawsuit has been filed against Takata Corporation, one of the largest manufacturers of air bags in the world, and Honda Motor Company alleging defective air bags led to many cases of serious personal injury including four deaths. According to the lawsuit, both the manufacturer and Honda knew for approximately ten years that the air bag inflators were faulty and could explode, propelling metal and plastic throughout the vehicle.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a consumer advisory in October 2014, announcing a massive recall of air bags in 7.8 million vehicles made by at least 11 different manufacturers. Honda and Acura comprise roughly two-thirds of these vehicles.
Millions of vehicles recalled for faulty air bags
The method of the recall also poses some concern. In June 2014, automakers began to issue limited regional recalls based on reports of a higher rate of spontaneous air bag inflator ruptures in humid climates. Many of those incidents occurred in Florida and Puerto Rico. However, spontaneous ruptures can occur in any climate.
Regardless of whether the air bag deploys due to a spontaneous inflator rupture or a collision, passengers are at risk for serious bodily injury including death from pieces of metal and plastic that are contained in the air bag apparatus. Drivers can visit the NHTSA website to determine if their vehicle has been affected by this recall. Models include:
Takata has agreed to weekly meetings with the NHTSA to update the agency on its progress in manufacturing new air bags to replace the faulty ones placed in more than 7 million vehicles. In the meantime, some drivers are being told by dealerships that repairs could take more than 7-10 days and are not offering loaner vehicles. The class action lawsuit is seeking damages for loss of use among other restitution. If you or someone you know has been seriously injured due to a vehicle defect, contact me. I have helped many clients and families with serious personal injury claims and can provide you with a no-obligation case evaluation.