Airbags have long been a staple of safety in automobiles, allowing drivers and passengers to avoid impact with hard surfaces of the vehicle in the event of a collision. Airbags are installed in many places within a car, most prominently in the steering mechanism and dash boards. Recently, many California car owners have watched with concern as auto manufacturers across the world scramble to remedy the dangerous situation created by defects in airbags.
The deadly problem came to light just prior to the unprecedented recall of 50 million vehicles in 2014. The vehicles contained airbags with Takata inflators that apparently spontaneously exploded, killing 22 people across the world and injuring 180 others with pieces of metal shrapnel. Several class action lawsuits have recently been filed, accusing General Motors, Volkswagen, Fiat Chrysler and Mercedes-Benz of failing to act when they knew the problem existed over a decade earlier.
In fact, GM and Fiat Chrysler had allegedly been warned in 2009 that Takata inflators used highly combustible ammonium nitrate. This propellant established the potential for explosions when the airbags deployed. Mercedes apparently had information about an explosion in a Takata plant in 2006, but it ignored the information as well as reports of injuries in cars from competing manufacturers.
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit are seeking remuneration for the drop in value of their cars as well as for lost wages, child care costs, rental cars and other financial losses related to the recall. The car companies involved in the class actions deny any wrongdoing. However, other auto manufacturers have already settled over $5 million in similar lawsuits. Those in California who have suffered physically or financially because of auto defects may benefit by consulting legal counsel to discuss their best options.
Source: detroitnews.com, "Automakers face class-action suit over faulty air bags", Keith Laing, March 14, 2018