Safety News Update

The safety news regarding the Takata airbag recall has apparently become a much more significant issue than was first thought. The recall began as the result of several personal injury lawsuits that were filed with very similar material case facts included, with the primary complaint being the bags exploded without being impacted. The explosions were ultimately ruled as causation of the car accidents and the National Highway and Transportation Safety Board began the investigation. That investigation resulted in the current recall after extensive negotiation with the original car manufacturers, which then revealed that the Takata airbag was very popular with most car companies.

Initial Recall

The original recall was for 5.1 million vehicles to be inspected for installation of the Takata bags. There was no computer database showing manufacturer records at that time. As the NHTSB continued to evaluate the extent of the problem it became apparent that there could be many more vehicles needing inspection, including many second-owner used cars, that could potentially worsen the problem significantly.

Expanding the Recall

The process began to grow once a dependable database was established by the car manufacturers that matched vehicle identification numbers to manufacturing records. The NHTSB now has the database posted to the official website where vehicle owners can evaluate their personal vehicle for needing a potential replacement. The recall has now grown from just over 5.1 million vehicles to approximately 69 million vehicles as stated by the government consumer protection agency on May 4th. This growth has taken place in less than six months and may end up being one of the biggest product recalls in history.

Legal Implications

One significant result of this recall is that many accidents will be reevaluated and subsequent accidents will routinely be investigated for exploding airbags. Of course, typical accidents almost always include airbag deployment with even a moderate impact, but now the potential for explosion must always be evaluated when an accident is difficult to reconstruct. Product liability claims can often reduce the comparative negligence percentage of a particular litigant who may be seen as responsible for an accident. Having a dependable database of vehicles that may have the Takata airbags installed has provided documentation for officials to use when investigating accidents, and the database includes the driver’s side as well as the passenger’s side. The original investigations were focused on the passenger side airbags, but the recall has also included extending to some driver side protection devices.

Product Liability Cases

The safety news of the expanding recall also has the potential to do much more than affect the outcome of vehicle crashes. Product liability lawsuits may very well be the biggest concern of the automobile manufacturers and the Takata Corporation. Product liability cases are not typical lawsuits, and the defendants are usually limited in defense when it can be proven in court that the product actually caused an accident resulting in personal injuries. The database of vehicles also serves as a documented reference of the potential a defective bag was installed in a vehicle and may have deployed early. The difference with product liability is strict liability doctrine that does not require the plaintiff product liability lawyer to prove negligence on the part of the manufacturer. In addition, all businesses in the supply chain are also liable for selling the defective part, which also enhances the number of potential lawsuits and personal injury claims.

Product liability claims are unique lawsuits that will always require the legal expertise of an experienced product liability legal team that understands how to investigate the case and establish causation for the accident due to the malfunctioning defective product.