More than 40 million vehicles worldwide are estimated to be affected by a massive defective airbag recall that was announced recently. In the United States alone, the recall of Takata airbags is expected to affect approximately 34 million vehicles from 10 different car manufacturers. Although manufacturers have allegedly known for years about the dangerous defects, they did not issue a recall to address the problem until recently.
How defects cause injuries
The specific defect at issue in the Takata recall involves the airbag's inflation device, which consists of a metal cartridge loaded with a chemical propellant called ammonium nitrate. In the event of a crash, the propellant can destabilize and cause the airbag to inflate with an explosive force. When this occurs, the metal cartridge that holds the propellant can shatter, creating an effect not unlike a shotgun blast and sending shards of metal into the passenger compartment of the vehicle.
The injuries that result can be severe and even fatal, particularly when they affect the head, face and neck. In addition to the risk of being struck by metal shards, vehicle occupants can also be injured by the airbag itself if it deflates too forcefully or extends too far into the cab of the vehicle. So far, according to Consumer Reports, there have been eight deaths and more than 100 injuries linked to the Takata airbag defects.
Manufacturers liable for injuries linked to defects
It is important to understand that you have rights if you or someone close to you has been hurt by a defective airbag. Companies that manufacture cars and their components have a legal duty to make sure their products are safe for consumers, especially when those products are specifically designed to prevent - not cause - injuries.
When an airbag or other consumer product is flawed in such a way that it causes people to be hurt or killed, the manufacturer can be held financially liable for the damages suffered by the injured individuals and their families, including past and future medical bills, lost income, pain and suffering and more. Sometimes, especially in situations involving deliberate cover-ups or other extreme circumstances, the companies responsible for the defective products can also be required to pay punitive damages, which are additional monetary penalties designed to penalize and discourage particularly egregious or irresponsible conduct.
Hurt by a defective airbag? Protect your rights
If you or a loved one has been injured by an airbag affected by the Takata recall, be sure to seek advice from a personal injury lawyer about your situation and the options that are available to you. The skilled personal injury lawyers at Soloff & Zervanos, P.C., have experience securing compensation for people who have been injured by defective products and they can help you evaluate your potential legal claim.