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When Safety Becomes Dangerous

airbagLast month, history was made in America. But not the way we would like it to be made. The federal government issued the largest recall in our history and one involving a Japanese company’s safety products. We have posted in the past about the airbag woes of Takata. The company has been sued by a number of injured victims and has been the focus of media and consumer concern about the potentially dangerous and defective airbags. The problem with these airbags is that they eject sharp shrapnel that could cause greater injury than the accident that triggers them to inflate.

The majority of the potentially deadly and dangerous airbags are thought to have been manufactured and put into cars made between 2002 and 2008. However, it is possible that vehicles made through 2014 could be included. The frightening potential for crash victims to be harmed by airbags they rely on for protection, has many car owners concerned about their safety and the safety of their passengers. There might not be one cause of the defect, but the danger of an airbag malfunction appears to be more likely in locations in which there is high heat and humidity. These conditions are thought to break down some of the internal parts that then causes the airbag’s propellant to burn too quickly which, in turn, places too much pressure within the inflation device.

Although this is a pervasive problem … and 34 million cars are involved in the recall … it has not been easy for consumers to find resources to determine which cars are part of the recall. The original notification by Takata to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), involved  vehicles made by BMW, Chrysler, Ford, Honda, Mazda, Nissan and Toyota. To determine whether a specific vehicle is part of the recall, car owners can go to SaferCar.gov and search their vehicle’s specific VIN number. This number can be found on the driver’s side of the dashboard of your vehicle. It is easiest to see this when standing outside your car and looking where the dash and windshield connect. The NHTSA VIN site states that owners checking to determine whether their vehicle might be involved in the airbag recall are encouraged to check back often, since VIN numbers are provided by the car manufacturers and this process is taking time.

Once a consumer has determined that a vehicle they own or lease is part of the recall, the next big hurdle is getting new airbags. Over time, car manufacturers should be notifying owners about scheduling their airbag replacement. But this recall is so large it is is likely to take months, and possibly longer than months, to manufacture enough airbags to keep up with the demand for replacement. Unfortunately car manufacturers have not been a great resource for consumers as vehicle owners have reportedly been provided little or no information on what to do about their airbags. In general, consumers are still driving vehicles with the potentially defective airbags — until there are new ones to replace them.

At Scholle Law, our law practice is dedicated to the protection of injured consumers. After a serious injury or accident, we step in on behalf of our clients and take on the burden of dealing with insurance companies and their lawyers, to fight for the legal rights and recovery of injured victims. Our consultations are free of charge and generally we represent accident and injury victims on a contingency basis. Contact our law firm at any time to speak with a lawyer about your accident or injury.

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