Takata, a Japanese automobile parts manufacturer, faces ongoing class action lawsuits in the United States over defective airbags it sold. These lawsuits have also targeted numerous automakers whose vehicles came equipped with the airbags. And now, a new round of airbag injuries has focused blame on another parts manufacturer and other automobile brands.
An article on Law.com reports that lawsuits are now going after airbags made by ZF-TRW Automotive Holdings Corp. According to plaintiffs, a defective airbag control unit is causing airbags not to deploy during a crash. These units contain a circuit which is supposed to monitor crash signal sensors. However, the circuits have failed under stress. This, in turn, causes the bags to not deploy and thereby increases the risk of serious injury or death. These lawsuits follow an April 2019 announcement by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of expanded investigations into airbag injuries.
Plaintiffs argue that ZF-TRW, Hyundai, and Kia knew about this defect as early as 2011. They allegedly knew of the risk of injury and death because there were actual crashes in which the airbags failed. The lawsuits maintain that the defendants sold the bags and the vehicles with them, despite knowing about the defects. There may have even been a conspiracy among the defendants to hide known defects from the public.
These new claims have drawn comparisons to the Takata lawsuits, and have once again exposed weaknesses in many airbag systems. That case is still presenting challenges. At least 20 people have been killed, and many more seriously injured, by Takata airbag explosions. A relatively safe chemical had been used to inflate and deploy bags. However, spotting an opportunity to cut costs, plaintiffs allege, Takata replaced the safe chemical with a cheaper, more volatile one. Over time, the chemical can become unstable. This is especially problematic in warm and high humidity locations. As a result, the airbags explode upon impact or other activation.
We tend to think of airbag deployments as sudden, explosive bursts, occurring almost instantaneously after a crash. The problem with the Takata airbags is that they were exploding like bombs. These deployments sprayed the driver and passengers with metal shrapnel. The resulting injuries were quite heinous and included some of the following:
- Scrapes, bruises, and blunt force trauma
- Organ injury
- Eye injuries, vision loss, and blindness
- Vocal cord damage
- Injuries to the neck, spine, and brain
- Bone fractures in the ribs, sternum, and other areas
Many different vehicles were discovered to have come equipped with these dangerous airbags. These are now subject to ongoing recalls throughout the country. A government website has been established which keeps a running list of affected vehicles.
Those who are concerned that their vehicles may be affected can also check. Visitors can search this website using their car’s Vehicle Identification Number, or VIN. Finally, contact your automobile dealership for any questions or concerns about possible recalls.
If you’ve been injured by a defective airbag, made by Takata or another manufacturer, you may be entitled to compensation. Depending on your case, you could be eligible to recover for the following damages:
- Medical bills – past, present, and future
- Pain, suffering, and emotional distress
- Lost wages
- Lost and decreased earning capacity
- Special accommodations to assist with your injuries
Schneider Hammers is aggressively investigating and pursuing claims related to defective airbag injuries. There are some ways you can bolster your case if you’re one of the many people who have been hurt. To start with, you should document all of your injuries and the expenses associated with them. A good way to do this is to collect hospital, medical, and prescription drug records. You should also try to take pictures of the deployed airbag and the surrounding areas, especially if shrapnel is present. Any other photographic evidence showing any problems may be useful as well. Finally, if you have any repair or automotive records relating to the airbags, show them to your product defect attorney.
A Product Defect Attorney Can Help
Lawsuits involving product defects are extraordinarily complex. The attorneys at Schneider Hammers have the experience and dedication needed to fight for your rights. Contact us today to get started.