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Side Airbags Scrutinized as Recall Expands

Side Airbags Scrutinized as Recall Expands

Will it never end? The latest development in the Takata airbag troubles is that some side airbags, in addition to front passenger and driver airbags, are now included in the largest automotive recall in history. The latest addition to the recall, issued on October 20, 2015, expanded to several vehicle brands with regard to the side airbags. One automaker, Toyota, has started replacing the defective side-airbag inflators. It has also ordered dealers to disable the airbags and place a “Do Not Sit Here” message on the vehicle’s dashboard if parts for the fix are unavailable.

The Beginnings of Trouble?

The story of the Takata side airbags begins in June, 2015, when one ruptured during the crash of a 2015 Volkswagen Tiguan involving a deer. No one was hurt, but the accident placed the side airbags on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) radar. Fast forward to October, 2015, when General Motors recalled several hundred 2015 vehicles for possibly-faulty side airbags after Takata informed GM that almost 400 cars had side airbags that failed testing.

After some investigation, the NHTSA expanded its probe into side airbags of all model years, not just the older inflators, for defects. Flaws in the inflators could cause the airbags to burst suddenly, sending bits of metal shrapnel to fly about, injuring or killing the occupants of the vehicles. Approximately one in ten of every airbag ruptures has caused deaths.

In late October, 2015, U.S. Senators John Thune and Bill Nelson, the top Republican and Democrat on the Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, demanded documentation from Takata concerning their side airbags. In response to the June airbag explosion in a 2015 VW Tiguan, the two wrote, “Takata has repeatedly emphasized the critical role long-term exposure of vehicles to high heat and humidity may play in ruptures of its ammonium nitrate-based inflators subject to previous recalls. This incident, however, involved a vehicle that was less than one year old.”

The Current Story

Millions of vehicles have been recalled worldwide for faulty airbags; some peg the number at 30 million, involving ten auto manufacturers. In early November, 2015, the NHTSA imposed a record penalty on Takata of up to $200 million. The agency also demanded that Takata phase out the risky inflators and recall the ones currently on the road—unless the company can prove the inflators pose no danger.

You can find the latest list of Takata airbag recalls on the NHTSA website.

How Can “The Injury Lawyer” Help You?

If you have been injured due to a defective air bag or air bag failure, call Baltimore personal injury attorney Steve Heisler. The compensation you could receive would help you with catastrophic medical bills, ongoing medical care, expensive medication, lost wages, loss of function, and other injuries. Keep in mind, however, that there is a statute of limitations – or a time limit – in Maryland for filing personal injury claims. If you have been injured in an air bag accident or have otherwise incurred a personal injury arising from a defective product, you should not delay. You can reach The Law Offices of Steven H. Heisler at (410) 625-4878 or by using the online contact form, to arrange a no-obligation, no-fee initial consultation.