As of January 25, 2016, the Takata airbag inflator issue has led to the recall of 24 million cars. This massive problem affects over 28 million airbag inflators and has resulted injured over 100 people.
What is the issue?
A defect in the Takata airbag inflator has now claimed the lives of 10 people. The most recent victim was a driver of a Ford Ranger who suffered fatal injuries in December 2015 after his vehicle hit a cow. It was not the impact of the accident that killed him; rather, it was the shrapnel from the explosion in the airbag inflator that resulted in his death.
To protect vehicle occupants in an accident, a small explosion occurs in the airbag causing the airbag to inflate and stop occupants from hitting inside of the vehicle. The issue with the Takata airbag is that instead of merely inflating the airbag, the inflator itself explodes shooting shrapnel through the airbag.
Who is liable under these circumstances?
The notion of product liability theory is that a manufacturer who puts an inherently dangerous or defective product on the market is responsible for any harm the product causes. In the Takata airbag inflator situation, Takata is clearly responsible for the design and manufacture of the defective airbag inflator.
Automobile manufacturers, however, may also be liable for harm caused by the automobiles that they manufactured and sold, even though they did not design or manufacture the airbag inflators themselves. Allegations against the car companies themselves are based on the notion that the car companies knew or should have known of the defect, failed to remedy or notify customers of the defect, and continued to sell the cars.
Who can bring a claim?
First of all, you need to know if you own a car that is subject to the recall. The National Highway Transportation Administration (NHTSA) has an entire webpage dedicated to the Takata airbag recall. On this page you can search by using your vehicle identification number to see if your car is affected.
However, discovering that your car is subject to the recall does not mean that you are eligible to collect damages. But the law requires that in order to pursue a legal claim for product liability, a party with a defective product must have suffered actual harm from the product.
If you or a loved one suffered injury from a Takata airbag inflator defect, call a car accident lawyer to protect and preserve your rights. Contact Max Meyers Law PLLC at 425-399-7000.