Airbag Recalls & Product Liability Lawsuits

Airbag Recalls & Product Liability Lawsuits 2017-07-16T19:59:45+00:00

Every year, millions of defective vehicles are placed under recall, but in many cases, the damage has already been done. Improper design and manufacturing puts drivers, passengers and pedestrians at risk.

  • Defective airbags
  • Malfunctioning seatbelts

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Every year, millions of vehicles are recalled – often due to defective safety features. In recent years, American drivers have become increasingly aware that auto manufacturers and parts suppliers can make big mistakes in both manufacturing and design, errors that jeopardize millions of lives.

Airbag Recall Lawsuits: Injury & Wrongful Death

For many drivers, a prompt recall is a life-saver. But for some, the harm posed by a faulty airbag or defective seatbelt has already been done. Hundreds have suffered severe personal injuries from the defective airbags manufactured by Takata. A software glitch in GM vehicles has left at least one person dead and three others injured so far.

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Manufacturers have a simple duty: provide consumers with safe products. When they fail to uphold this duty, some companies will issue a recall in order to prevent further harm. But recalling an unsafe product, whether it’s a children’s toy or an airbag, does not provide manufacturers with some sort of legal immunity.

People who are injured by consumer products, whether or not those products have been recalled, have every right to file an airbag injury lawsuit against negligent manufacturers.

Takata Airbag Recall

Airbags made by the Japanese auto supplier Takata can overinflate and explode in the event of a crash, sending metal fragments hurtling into drivers and passengers.

More than 100 people have already been injured, and at least 14 have died. The fatal incidents have been confined to Honda vehicles, Bloomberg reports, but injuries are spread evenly over nearly two dozen car manufacturers.

Four-fifths of the world’s airbag inflators are manufactured by just four companies. Takata, the Japanese giant, is joined by Swedish company Autoliv, American manufacturer TRW and another Japanese corporation, Daicel.

Vehicles Affected: Takata Airbag Recall

Tens of millions of vehicles, marketed under almost 24 different brand names, have been recalled so far. It’s the largest and most complex safety recall ever initiated in the United States, ballooning from only six makes in April 2013 – when Takata initially announced the defect – to 1 in 8 vehicles in America today.

Acura

  • Acura 3.2CL (2003)
  • Acura 3.2TL (2002 – 2003)
  • Acura ILX (2013 – 2016)
  • Acura ILX Hybrid (2013 – 2014)
  • Acura MDX (2003 – 2006)
  • Acura RDX (2007 – 2016)
  • Acura RL (2005 – 2012)
  • Acura TSX (2009 – 2011)
  • Acura TSX Sportswagon (2011)
  • Acura TL (2009 – 2014)
  • Acura ZDX (2010 – 2013)

Audi

  • Audi A3 (2005 – 2013)
  • Audi A4 (2004 – 2008)
  • Audi A4 cabriolet (2006 – 2009)
  • Audi A5 cabriolet (2010 – 2011)
  • Audi A6 (2005 – 2011)
  • Audi Q5 (2009 – 2012)

BMW

  • BMW 1-series coupe and convertible (2008 – 2013)
  • BMW 3-series sedan (2000 – 2011)
  • BMW 3-series wagon (2000 – 2012)
  • BMW 3-series coupe and convertible (2002 – 2013)
  • BMW 5-series (2002 – 2003)
  • BMW M3 sedan (2008 – 2011)
  • BMW M3 coupe and convertible (2001 – 2013)
  • BMW M5 (2002 – 2003)
  • BMW X1 (2013 – 2015)
  • BMW X3 (2007 – 2010)
  • BMW X5 (2003 – 2004; 2007 – 2013)
  • BMW X6 (2008 – 2014)

Buick

  • Buick LaCrosse (2015)

Cadillac

  • Cadillac Escalade (2007 – 2011)
  • Cadillac Escalade ESV (2007 – 2011)
  • Cadillac Escalade EXT (2007 – 2011)

Chevrolet

  • Chevrolet Avalanche (2007 – 2011)
  • Chevrolet Silverado 1500 (2007 – 2011)
  • Chevrolet Silverado 2500 (2007 – 2011)
  • Chevrolet Silverado 3500 (2007 – 2011)
  • Chevrolet Tahoe (2007 – 2011)
  • Chevrolet Suburban (2007 – 2011)

Chrysler

  • Chrysler 300 (2005 – 2012)
  • Chrysler 300C (2005 – 2010)
  • Chrysler Crossfire (2006 – 2007)
  • Chrysler Aspen (2007 – 2009)
  • Chrysler SRT8 (2005 – 2010)

Daimler

  • Dodge Sprinter 2500 (2006 – 2009)
  • Dodge Sprinter 3500 (2006 – 2009)
  • Freightliner Sprinter 2500 (2007 – 2014)
  • Freightliner Sprinter 3500 (2007 – 2014)

Dodge / Ram

  • Dodge Ram 1500 (2003 – 2009)
  • Dodge Ram 2500 (2003 – 2009)
  • Dodge Ram 3500 (2003 – 2010)
  • Dodge Ram 4500 (2008 – 2010)
  • Dodge Ram 5500 (2008 – 2010)
  • Dodge Charger (2006 – 2012)
  • Dodge Challenger (2008 – 2012)
  • Dodge Magnum (2005 – 2008)
  • Dodge Dakota (2005 – 2011)
  • Dodge Durango (2004 – 2009)
  • Dodge Sterling Bullet 4500 (2008 – 2009)
  • Dodge Sterling Bullet 5500 (2008 – 2009)

Ferrari

  • Ferrari California (2009 – 2011)
  • Ferrari 458 Italia (2010 – 2011)

Ford

  • Ford Ranger (2004 – 2011)
  • Ford GT (2005 – 2006)
  • Ford Mustang (2005 – 2014)
  • Ford Fusion (2006 – 2011)
  • Ford Edge (2007 – 2010)

GMC

  • GMC Sierra 1500 (2007 – 2011)
  • GMC Sierra 2500 (2007 – 2011)
  • GMC Sierra 3500 (2007 – 2011)
  • GMC Yukon (2007 – 2011)
  • GMC Yukon XL (2007 – 2011)

Honda

  • Honda Accord (2008 – 2011)
  • Honda Accord 4-cylinder (2001 – 2007)
  • Honda Accord V6 (2001 – 2002)
  • Honda Accord Crosstour (2010 – 2011)
  • Honda Civic (2001 – 2011)
  • Honda Civic Hybrid (2003 – 2005)
  • Honda CR-V (2002 – 2011)
  • Honda CR-Z (2011 – 2015)
  • Honda Odyssey (2002 – 2004)
  • Honda Element (2003 – 2011)
  • Honda Pilot (2003 – 2011)
  • Honda Gold Wing motorcycle (2006 – 2010)
  • Honda Ridgeline (2006 – 2014)
  • Honda Fit (2007 – 2014)
  • Honda FCX Clarity (2010 – 2014)
  • Honda Insight (2010 – 2014)

Infiniti

  • Infiniti I30 (2001; 2003 – 2004)
  • Infiniti I35 (2002 – 2004)
  • Infiniti QX4 (2002 – 2003)
  • Infiniti FX35 (2003 – 2008)
  • Infiniti FX45 (2003 – 2008)
  • Infiniti M35 (2006 – 2010)
  • Infiniti M45 (2006 – 2010)

Jaguar

  • Jaguar XF (2009 – 2011)

Jeep

  • Jeep Wrangler (2007 – 2012)

Land Rover

  • Land Rover Range Rover (2007 – 2011)

Lexus

  • Lexus ES350 (2007-2011)
  • Lexus GX460 (2010-2011)
  • Lexus IS 250 (2006-2011)
  • Lexus IS 250C (2010-2011)
  • Lexus IS 350 (2006-2011)
  • Lexus IS 350C (2010-2011)
  • Lexus IS F (2008-2011)
  • Lexus SC (2002-2010)

Lincoln

  • Lincoln Zephyr (2006 – 2011)
  • Lincoln MKZ (2006 – 2011)
  • Lincoln MKX (2007 – 2010)

Mazda

  • Mazda 6 (2003 – 2011)
  • Mazda Mazdaspeed 6 (2006 – 2007)
  • Mazda RX-8 (2004 – 2011)
  • Mazda MPV (2004 – 2006)
  • Mazda B-Series (2004 – 2006)
  • Mazda CX-7 (2007 – 2011)
  • Mazda Cx-9 (2007 – 2011)

Mercedes-Benz

  • Mercedes-Benz C-class (2005 – 2014)
  • Mercedes-Benz SLK-class (2007 – 2008)
  • Mercedes-Benz Sprinter (2007 – 2014)
  • Mercedes-Benz GL-class (2009 – 2012)
  • Mercedes-Benz M-class (2009 – 2011)
  • Mercedes-Benz R-class (2009 – 2012)
  • Mercedes-Benz E-class (2010 – 2017)
  • Mercedes-Benz GLK-class (2010 – 2015)
  • Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG coupe and roadster (2011 – 2015)

Mercury

  • Mercury Milan (2006 – 2011)

Mitsubishi

  • Mitsubishi Lacer (2004 – 2007)
  • Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution (2004 – 2007)
  • Mitsubishi Lancer Sportback (2004)
  • Mitsubishi Raider (2006 – 2009)

Nissan

  • Nissan Maxima (2001 – 2003)
  • Nissan Sentra (2002 – 2006)
  • Nissan Pathfinder (2002 – 2004)
  • Nissan Versa (2007 – 2011)

Pontiac

  • Pontiac Vibe (2003 – 2007)

Saab

  • Saab 9-2x (2005 – 2006)
  • Saab 9-3 (2006 – 2011)
  • Saab 9-5 (2006 – 2009)
  • Saab XB (2008 – 2011)

Saturn

  • Saturn Astra (2008 – 2009)

Scion

  • Scion XB (2008 – 2011)

Subaru

  • Subaru Baja (2003 – 2006)
  • Subaru Forester (2009 – 2011)
  • Subaru Impreza (2004; 2006 – 2011)
  • Subaru Legacy (2003 – 2011)
  • Subaru Outback (2003 – 2011)
  • Subaru Tribeca (2006 – 2011)

Toyota

  • Toyota 4Runner (2010 – 2011)
  • Toyota Corolla (2003 – 2011)
  • Toyota Corolla Matrix (2003 – 2008)
  • Toyota Matrix (2009 – 2011)
  • Toyota Rav4 (2004 – 2005)
  • Toyota Sienna (2011)
  • Toyota Sequoia (2002 – 2007)
  • Toyota Tundra (2003 – 2006)
  • Toyota Yaris (2006 – 2011)

Volkswagen

  • Volkswagen CC (2009 – 2014)
  • Volkswagen Eos (2012 – 2014)
  • Volkswagen Golf (2010 – 2014)
  • Volkswagen Jetta Sportwagen (2010 – 2014)
  • Volkswagen Passat (2006-2010; 2012  – 2014)

The recall effort has not gone smoothly. Although nearly 70 million vehicles have been recalled, only around 10 million have received replacement airbags so far. Millions of drivers will have to wait for months before getting a replacement.

Meanwhile, Takata and Honda have been accused of concealing the airbag’s defects – including reports of injuries and death – from federal authorities and the public. In a damning investigation, the New York Times discovered evidence that both companies were aware of airbag explosions as early as 2004. As devastating incidents piled up, and vehicle owners continued to suffer, Takata quietly settled individual injury claims. The first recall, a voluntary one issued by Honda, wasn’t announced until 2008. When that recall eventually came, it only covered 4,200 vehicles – a minuscule fraction of the vehicles installed with Takata’s deadly airbags.

Takata Won’t Set Up Airbag Victim Compensation Fund

The company’s President, Shigehisa Takada, has now publicly apologized. At a press conference in Tokyo, Takada said “I apologize for not having been able to communicate directly earlier, and also apologize for people who died or were injured.” But Takata isn’t ready to establish a compensation fund for those injured people.

In 2014, General Motors set up a $595 million compensation fund for victims injured due to a faulty ignition switch. The fund has paid out at least 399 death and personal injury claims to date. Senator Richard Blumenthal, a Democrat from Connecticut, called on Takata to establish a similar fund in June 2016.

Takata rejected Blumenthal’s suggestion, saying that “a national compensation fund is not currently required.” While the company isn’t ruling out a fund in the future, senior management believes that, for now, the litigation of individual personal injury claims should be sufficient to address the needs of injured victims.

Blumenthal isn’t happy about Takata’s decision, the Wall Street Journal reports. “I am astonished and deeply disappointed by Takata’s refusal to establish a victim’s compensation fund,” the Senator said in a statement. “I will press Takata to reconsider this callous misjudgment, and do right by the innocent victims of its harm.”

Takata Airbags Are Still Being Installed In New Cars

Selling cars with defective Takata airbags is still legal, and many companies appear to have no intention of slowing their sales. Toyota, Volkswagen, Fiat Chrysler and Mitsibushi are all putting new vehicles – with defective Takata airbags – on the market. So are Ferrari and Mercedes-Benz, according to CNET. The companies know that these cars, too, will need to be recalled eventually, but for the time being, they’re willing to let them sit on the lot.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administrations considers Takata airbags a serious safety risk – but that risk isn’t immediate. Since it takes time for the airbags to deteriorate, there’s little government regulators can do to ban their sale.

Car Crash Fender Damage

It’s “bizarre on multiple levels,” says Karl Brauer, an analyst at Kelley Blue Book. “Multiple mainstream automakers essentially know that they are selling cars that already have a defective part in them. And it’s not a defective windshield wiper or sun visor hinge. It’s an airbag, a primary safety device.” Brauer, who spoke to the New York Times in June 2016, thinks that, at the least, these automakers should be forced to disclose which vehicles are receiving Takata airbags. Currently, there’s no legal requirement to that effect.

But some auto manufacturers, of their own accord, have begun warning potential customers. Toyota, for example, has instructed its dealerships to notify customers of which vehicles are installed with Takata’s potentially-deadly airbags before a sale is complete.

GM Recalls 3.6M Cars Over Airbag Software Defect

General Motors (GM) has recalled over 3.6 million vehicles, after notifying the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration that a software problem in 20 of the company’s vehicles could unexpectedly deactivate safety features, including airbag deployment and seat belts.

As of September 12, 2016, the software defect had been linked to at least one death and three injuries, CBS News reports.

Vehicles Affected: GM Recall 2016

Vehicles sold under the brands Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet and GMC are affected:

  • 3.5 million vehicles in the US
  • 680,000 more cars worldwide
  • Buick Encore (2014 – 2017)
  • Buick Lacrosse (2014 – 2016)
  • Cadillac Escalade (2015 – 2017)
  • Cadillac Escalade ESV (2015 – 2017)
  • Chevrolet Caprice Police Pursuit (2014 – 2017)
  • Chevrolet Corvette (2014 – 2017)
  • Chevrolet Silverado 1500 (2014 – 2017)
  • Chevrolet Silverado 2500 (2015 – 2017)
  • Chevrolet Silverado 3500 (2015 – 2017)
  • Chevrolet Spark EV (2014 – 2016)
  • Chevrolet SS (2014 – 2016)
  • Chevrolet Suburban (2015 – 2017)
  • Chevrolet Tahoe (2015 – 2017)
  • Chevrolet Trax (2014 – 2017)
  • GMC Sierra 1500 (2014 – 2017)
  • GMC Sierra 2500 (2014 – 2017)
  • GMC Sierra 3500 (2015 – 2017)
  • GMC Yukon (2015 – 2017)
  • GMC Yukon XL (2015 – 2017)

Software Bug In GM Vehicles Deactivates Safety Features

In a filing with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Detroit-based auto manufacturer said that a software bug could shift the vehicles into a “test mode,” deactivating the front airbags in an accident. The glitch could also affect seat belt function, GM says. In effect, the cars can suddenly – and unnecessarily – initiate a diagnostic test, during which the safety features become inactivated.

“A failure of the front air bags or seat belt pretensioners to deploy in the event of a crash necessitating deployment[,] increasing the risk of injury to the driver and the front passenger.”

Reports suggest that GM became aware of the issue in May 2016, after a 2014 Chevy Silverado crashed – but failed to deploy its airbags. The company contacted Delphi, the supplier that coded the diagnostic module software. After testing the product, and confirming that the problem could suddenly deactivate airbags, GM quickly decided to recall the affected vehicles.

A simple software update, which is being offered free of charge, should be sufficient to fix the problem. General Motors says auto dealerships already have the update available.

Toyota Recalls 1.4M Vehicles With Faulty Airbag

Toyota has announced a recall of over 1.4 million cars with defectively-manufactured airbags. While no injuries have become public, reports have surfaced of airbags deploying spontaneously in parked cars, shooting metal shards into the cabin.

A small crack can develop in the airbag’s inflator, USA Today says, leading to only partial inflation in the event of a crash. The problem is confined to side-curtain airbags, which are designed to protect drivers and passengers in side-impact collisions.

Vehicle Affected: Toyota Recall 2016

  • 482,000 vehicles in the US
  • 1.43 million vehicles worldwide
  • Prius (2010 – 2012)
  • Lexus CT200h (2010 – 2012)

Toyota Distances Itself From Takata

These airbags weren’t manufactured by Takata, although it’s illuminating that Toyota executives felt the need to make that clear in a press release. While the company was reticent at first, declining to make public which company had manufactured the faulty airbags, Swedish auto supplier Autoliv soon stepped forward.

Autoliv, however, isn’t accepting responsibility. As the New York Times reports, the company says that poor welding on the airbag’s inflator – carried out by a subcontractor – was to blame. Autoliv says there have been seven documented cases of a side curtain airbag inflating partially in a crash, but no injuries yet. Like the defective Takata airbags, Autoliv believes the risk of a partial airbag deployment is highest in humid regions.

Toyota has attempted to distance its own airbag problems from the Takata crisis – noting that the defect in Prius and Lexus models appears to be a problem of manufacturing, not design. Many observers, on the other hand, believe these recent recalls speak to widespread manufacturing and design problems in the airbag industry.

Mazda Recalls 42K Vehicles With Airbag Manufacturing Mistake

Mazda has recalled nearly 42,000 vehicles, all 2009 and 2010 Mazda6 sedans, because the airbag control unit’s protective coating was applied improperly. The cars, manufactured between February 4, 2008 and December 3, 2009, could lead to serious injury in the event of a crash.

Vehicles Affected: Mazda Recall 2016

  • 42,000 vehicles
  • Mazda6 sedans (2009 – 2010)

Free Repairs, But Drivers Will Have To Wait

Per the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “failure of the [airbag control unit] would illuminate the airbag warning light and prevent the airbags from deploying in the event of a crash, increasing the risk of injury.”

Mazda dealerships will replace the vehicle’s airbag control unit free of charge. Parts for the repair, however, are not available yet. In the meantime, Mazda intends to send vehicle owners an interim notice on October 3, 2016. A second notification will be sent when replacement parts become available.

Fiat Chrysler Recalls 1.9M Cars Over Non-Functioning Airbags

Fiat Chrysler is recalling an estimated 1.9 million vehicles, 1.4 million in the US, over a fault that could prevent the airbags and automatic seat-belt restraints from functioning in a crash. Fiat Chrysler has not publicized the manufacturer of the faulty components, according to CNN.

The defect, present in various Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep vehicles made between 2010 and 2014, has been linked to at least 3 deaths and five injuries. In a statement, Fiat Chrysler said, “the condition may occur when vehicles equipped with a particular occupant-restraint control module and front-impact sensor wiring of a specific design are involved in certain collisions.”

Vehicles Affected: Fiat Chrysler Recall 2016

  • 1.4 million vehicles in US
  • 1.9 million cars worldwide
  • Chrysler 200 (2011 – 2014)
  • Dodge Caliber (2010 – 2012)
  • Dodge Avenger (2010 – 2014)
  • Jeep Patriot (2010 – 2014)
  • Jeep Compass (2010 – 2014)

Jeep, Dodge and Chrysler dealerships will fix the problem, Edmunds.com reports, although Fiat Chrysler has not yet announced a date for the recall to officially begin.

Nissan Recalls 152K Vehicles With Explosive Airbags

Nissan North America has issued a voluntary recall for over 152,000 Versa sedans and hatchbacks, along with a number of Infiniti vehicles. The cars are equipped with air bag inflators that can suddenly explode in the event of a crash. Echoing the ongoing Takata airbag crisis, investigators at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration say that a propellant used to inflate the airbag can degrade after long-term exposure to humidity and temperature fluctuations. No word, however, has yet been released as to whether the Nissan airbags were manufactured by Takata.

Vehicles Affected: Nissan Recall 2017

  • 152,554 vehicles in US

Due to regional variations in temperature and humidity, Nissan’s recent recall has been divided into three “zones” of relative danger.

Zone A

2012 Nissan Versa hatchbacks originally sold, or ever registered, in:

  • Alabama
  • California
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Hawaii
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • South Carolina
  • Texas
  • Puerto Rico
  • American Samoa
  • Guam
  • Northern Mariana Islands
  • US Virgin Islands

Zone B

Infinit M35 and M45 (2009 – 2010); Nissan Versa sedans and hatchbacks (2009) originally sold, or ever registered, in:

  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Delaware
  • District of Columbia
  • Illinois
  • Indiana
  • Kansas
  • Kentucky
  • Maryland
  • Missouri
  • Nebraska
  • Nevada
  • New Jersey
  • New Mexico
  • North Carolina
  • Ohio
  • Oklahoma
  • Pennsylvania
  • Tennessee
  • Virginia
  • West Virginia

Zone C

Infiniti FX35 and FX45 (2005 – 2008); Infiniti M35 and M45 (2006 – 2010); Nissan Versa (2007 – 2008) originally sold, or ever registered, in:

  • Alaska
  • Colorado
  • Connecticut
  • Idaho
  • Iowa
  • Maine
  • Massachusetts
  • Michigan
  • Minnesota
  • Montana
  • New Hampshire
  • New York
  • North Dakota
  • Oregon
  • Rhode Island
  • South Dakota
  • Utah
  • Vermont
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin
  • Wyoming

Nissan has said that drivers will soon be notified formally of the recall. Dealerships have been tapped to replace the front passenger-side airbag inflators in affected vehicles, but no timetable for repairs has been announced.

Further Reading On Defective Airbags

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