The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has ordered General Motors to recall seven million Cadillac, Chevrolet and GMC brand pickup trucks and SUV vehicles that may be equipped with defective airbag inflators. According to reports, the airbag inflators, manufactured by Takata, may be prone to rupture or explode during airbag deployment, thereby putting vehicle occupants at risk for serious injuries or possibly even death caused by airborne metal shrapnel or debris that may penetrate the airbag and enter the vehicle compartment. If you or someone you love has suffered injuries allegedly caused by a faulty Takata airbag inflator or another defective auto part, you may be entitled to financial compensation from the vehicle or auto part manufacturer. Contact Consumer Safety Watch today to find out if you are eligible to file a product liability claim against Takata.
NHTSA ordered the GM vehicle recall earlier this week, stating that “a defect exists in certain passenger-side frontal air bag inflators that [Takata] manufactured, including passenger-side inflators that it supplied to General Motors, LLC.” The recalled vehicles include seven million Chevrolet Silverado, Tahoe, Suburban and Avalanche vehicles, as well as GMC Sierra and Yukon and Cadillac Escalade vehicles from model years 2007-2014, sold in the United States and abroad. NHTSA states that the defect exists in the design of Takata’s airbag inflators, which contain a propellant that degrades after long-term exposure to high humidity levels and extreme changes in temperature. According to NHTSA, when the airbags are deployed in the event of an accident, the degradation of the propellant can cause the airbag inflator to “over-pressurize” and rupture, possibly causing metal fragments to penetrate the airbag and cause serious injury or death to vehicle occupants.
This isn’t the first time an auto manufacturer has been compelled to issue a recall as a result of defective and potentially dangerous Takata airbag inflators. Problems with the airbag inflators first surfaced in 2014 and triggered the largest vehicle recall in U.S. history, affecting nearly a dozen different auto manufacturers and millions of vehicles on U.S. roadways. To date, Takata recalls have affected 19 vehicle manufacturers and more than 60 million Takata airbag inflators used in tens of millions of vehicles in the U.S. alone. According to NHTSA, “The Takata air bag inflator recalls are the largest and most complex vehicle recalls in U.S. history.” So far, there have been at least 18 deaths linked to defective Takata airbag inflators in the U.S. and hundreds of injuries, including lacerations and other serious injuries to vehicle occupants’ face, chest and neck areas.
Despite these significant risks, GM has tried to dodge a recall for years, claiming that “because of differences in inflator design and vehicle integration, the equipment defect determined to exist by Takata is inconsequential as it relates to motor vehicle safety in GM’s GMT900 vehicles,” and that “GM should therefore be relieved of its notification and remedy obligations under the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966 and its applicable regulations.” However, NHTSA denied GM’s petition, finding that the company failed to meet its burden of establishing that the Takata airbag defect is inconsequential to the safety of its vehicles. GM has stated that it will not challenge NHTSA’s decision and the company therefore required to submit a proposed plan for notifying affected vehicle owners and implementing a remedy for the vehicle defect within 30 days.
The flurry of Takata airbag inflator recalls in recent years has resulted in a number of airbag recall lawsuits being filed on behalf of consumers who suffered serious, sometimes life-threatening injuries in situations where an allegedly defective Takata-made inflator caused an airbag to explosively over-inflate and send metal fragments towards vehicle occupants. The lawsuits allege that the manufacturer of the recalled airbags, Takata Corp., knew or should have known about the problem with its airbag inflators for years, yet failed to correct the problem. If you or a member of your family has been severely injured as a result of this Takata airbag defect, do not hesitate to pursue legal help from a knowledgeable product liability lawyer. With a reputable attorney on your side, you may be able to pursue financial compensation through an airbag recall lawsuit for a personal injury or wrongful death. Contact us today to learn more.