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Takata expands air bag recall, product liability suits likely

Revolutionary technology has helped create the safest motor vehicles ever manufactured. From the introduction of seat belts to side air bags, most people in California have a fairly good chance of surviving car accidents. However, defective or flawed features greatly reduce the chance of survival, making safety and quality checks a necessary aspect of the manufacturing process. Those affected by defective products — such as recently recalled Takata air bags — can typically seek to recover damages through product liability suits filed against manufacturers, which are sometimes consolidated into class action lawsuits.

A defect in the Takata air bags propelled by ammonium nitrate can result in an explosion when the bag is triggered. The explosions are known to shoot out shrapnel, and they have been determined to be the cause of injuries in over 100 different incidents. A total of 21 deaths have been attributed to the defective air bags, 10 of which occurred in the United States. The most recent victim was a 17-year-old driver who was killed by the air bag after crashing her vehicle.

Auto manufacturing experts point to a design flaw that allows moisture to seep in and collect in the air bag. The affected air bags were not made with any type of chemical drying agent that would prevent the collection of water, which ultimately leads to ruptured air bags and flying shrapnel. The air bags were initially recalled some time ago, but a recent expansion of that recall upped the number of affected vehicles by 35 to 40 million.

The recall includes five phases with each phase focusing on vehicles most at risk, although a spokesman from the U.S. Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration stated that current recall rates are not satisfactory. Millions of motorists in California and across the rest of the country are still at risk of being harmed by a piece of technology that is meant to protect them. When victims are faced with a lifetime of pain and suffering from a defective product, manufacturers can be held responsible through the successful navigation of product liability claims.

Source: CBS News, “Biggest air bag recall in U.S. history gets massively bigger“, Kate Gibson, May 4, 2016

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