The auto air bag recalls have taken a turn after a law suit was filed earlier this week in federal court. Prior to this filing, most of the litigation involving the defective air bags has been brought in class actions, rather than cases filed by individual plaintiffs. Only one other federal action is known to have been filed thus far. The new federal filing comes in the wake of horrific air bag deployments that have severely injured and killed an estimated five victims. The particular air bag at issue was manufactured by the Takata Corporation, whose airbags have been installed in millions of vehicles. The company has been involved in car safety for many years and has never had such widespread issues with their products.
Unfortunately and tragically, there is now a major recall on many air bags made by Takata that were installed in nearly ten different car makes and models. These airbags have been known to distribute shrapnel metals on deployment. In the most recent filing, the propellant is alleged to be the problem, making the “explosive” nature of the deployment dangerous for those it is intended to protect. Although the malfunctions have occurred in warmer climates, the recall is likely to spread nationwide.
This federal case was filed in South Carolina. The wrongful death action has been brought by the brother of a woman who died after an airbag opened and caused catastrophic injuries to her spinal cord. She was driving her Honda and was involved in a single car accident in which her airbag deployed; she passed away a couple of weeks later. Honda is also named in the lawsuit. The victim’s brother is in a position to claim damages for her injuries and death. We have often posted on the rights of family members to file a wrongful death action. Georgia law specifies those who are permitted to file a lawsuit in the event that a close family member dies due to the fault of another person or entity. When a loved one is fatally injured the surviving husband or wife, children, parent and any other heir or next of kin, designated by a will or by Georgia probate law, may file a wrongful death action.
Takata has come under criticism for failing to handle the situation properly. The company’s legal troubles are likely to continue into the future as criminal investigations are underway, as is an investigation by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). The top executive at the company was in the hot seat on Capitol Hill this past week. The company said it is working on correcting the airbags that are already installed in millions of cars, but it is uncertain whether this can occur quickly enough to avoid additional victims. The federal agency charged with vehicle safety is also trying to assist in ramping up the corrective measures that need to be taken to avoid further devastation. The problem appears to be more likely in hot and humid climates. Due to this, it is most likely that the focus will be in correcting airbags in these locations within the United States and will later focus on other areas. This is due to the fact that there are insufficient corrective parts to cover the issue throughout the country at this time.
Wrongful death actions can be critically important in the lives of surviving family members. Without the income of a person who has been killed in an accident or otherwise, family members often must struggle to make ends meet. The law protects those people by permitting them to recover damages for their deceased relative’s death. Please contact Scholle Law for more information about wrongful death cases and for a free consultation about any accident or injury you or a loved one has suffered.