Consult a Houston Airbag Injury Lawyer If Your Car’s Safety System Has Hurt You or a Family Member
There is a regular pattern of behavior when it comes to safety systems for motor vehicles. We’ve seen it with the introduction of seat belts, child car seats, shoulder restraints, airbags, and recently video screens. Here’s the typical pattern:
Someone develops a safety device. Safety experts estimate the number of lives saved each year if the device were in widespread use.
A car manufacturer offers the new device as an option on new vehicles (at an extra price).
Vehicle manufacturers resist any attempt to require the new device. They claim adding the device will make cars unaffordable. They protest that there is no public demand for the device. They dismiss the claims about the number of lives saved.
Sales of the new device are much more robust than expected, even at the high price.
Some state legislatures begin the process of requiring the new device on all vehicles sold in the state.
Surprise! Auto manufacturers find that it is possible to add the new device and still sell cars profitably.
Once the new device has become widely accepted, we begin to hear stories about injuries that happen because the device is misused (or not used at all). Passengers neglect to buckle their seat belts. A parent fails to install her toddler’s car seat properly. Tragic results follow.
But there are also incidents where the manufacturer failed to construct or install a safety device properly. The result: national news stories about airbags that fail to deploy during collisions or defective seat belts that injure the user.
We’re surprised when vehicle injuries are not the result of collisions, but instead due to unreliable safety systems. The most recent news on this front is the ongoing scandal about Takata airbags and the dangers they present to drivers and passengers.
A Brief Survey of Takata’s Troubles
More than a hundred injuries and eight deaths have been blamed on airbags manufactured by the Takata Corporation.
At issue is the company’s use of ammonium nitrate to inflate airbags rapidly during a collision. There is some evidence that Takata researchers discovered in 2012 that ammonium nitrate inflaters could detonate unexpectedly with explosive force, the company didn’t share that information with regulators until 2014. News sources report that Takata covered up adverse test results for years.
What does this mean for an auto driver or passenger? The explosive inflation of a Takata airbag can spray metal fragments at high speed. This shrapnel can lacerate flesh and sever blood vessels, potentially causing blindness, life-changing disfigurement, or death. Car manufacturers who purchased airbag components from Takata have been forced to recall more than 19 million vehicles—and more recalls may still be needed as investigations continue. These recalls mean that even car owners whose airbags have never deployed have suffered a loss due to Takata’s negligence: lost time, lost money, and inconvenience because of the process to replace these defective airbags.
It’s also worth noting that the greatest risk from Takata’s airbag inflaters is believed to be in vehicle models made before 2009 that have been used in “high absolute humidity” regions of the United States—and Texas is definitely on that list.
Preserve Your Rights If You’ve Been Hurt by an Airbag or Other Car Safety Device
Bear in mind that the risk is ongoing. Because there are not enough airbags available from other vendors, some recalled vehicles are being serviced by swapping in a new Takata airbag in place of the old one. That may reduce the danger somewhat—newer airbag models are believed to be less likely to explode—but it doesn’t negate the risk completely. Under the terms of the recall, carmakers have until the end of 2019 to complete their replacement of dangerous airbags.
If you have been hurt because…
An airbag deployed when there was no accident or during a low-speed crash
An airbag deployed with catastrophic force
An airbag failed to deploy during a collision
Any other safety device malfunctioned in your vehicle
Then you may have legal rights to demand appropriate compensation from the manufacturer. You can reach attorney Steve Lee by calling 713-921-4171 or 800-232-3711 toll-free to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation about your potential case. We recommend you act at your earliest convenience because of the limited time the law allows for filing a claim.