Defective Airbag Linked To 14th Fatality


The Law Of... defective products causing harm

A road user fatality in Malaysia is being linked to a defective airbag, which is part of one of the biggest product recalls in recent years.

The Law Of... defective products causing harm

Takata, a Japanese company that supplies various car parts to manufacturers around the world, have been embroiled in an unsafe product scandal for years, as their airbags were shown to be deeply flawed and are thought to have caused multiple deaths and over 150 injuries.

With another possible fatality linked to the defective airbag, Rose Gibson – Partner in Complex Personal Injury – explains the scandal to date and outlines the legal consequences of fatal accidents caused by defective products.

Takata Airbag Scandal

In an automotive scandal comparable to Volkswagen's emissions saga, it has been claimed that Takata were aware of their airbag defect as early as 2000, however executives allegedly tampered with the evidence to hide the issue.

Takata did not publicly address the safety issue until 2008, when they implemented a small scale product recall on some defective airbags.

It is alleged that the flawed airbags are extremely dangerous to motorists, as moisture causes the chemicals used to set off an airbag to burn too quickly, ultimately causing the structure to break and sends small shards of metal into the car, which has the potential to seriously harm or kill passengers.

The latest death linked to the airbag, which is used by dozens of car manufacturers, was in Malaysia, where a driver was killed in a collision in a 2009 Honda City car. The model was recalled to fix the defective airbag in 2015.

Takata have declared that around 100 million air bag inflators have been declared worldwide, 70 million of which can be found in the United States, where the company is facing criminal proceedings.

The defective airbag scandal has caused one of the largest product recalls in automotive history, with cars manufactured by the likes of Honda, Toyota, BMW, Nissan, Ford, Mazda, and Mitsubishi all issuing recalls to customers. In the UK BMW's E46 generation 3 series, produced between 1999 and 2006, was one of the highest profile cars to be recalled because of Takata's faulty airbag.

Product Recalls & Liability

Due to the serious nature of injuries that can be suffered in road traffic collisions, it is crucial that vehicle defects are addressed properly and promptly.

In the UK the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency (DVSA) investigates serious defects that could affect the safety of a vehicle.

Product recalls and liability are covered by the Consumer Protection Act 1987, which outlines how those involved in the supply of goods to consumers are liable for any damages caused by a defective or faulty product.

When a manufacturer discovers an unsafe defect within one of their products, they have a responsibility to issue a product recall, to ensure that the risk of harm to consumers is minimised.

When a defective, faulty, or unsafe product or component is identified, the manufacturer will usually find a fix; produce replacements that feature the fix; and recall unsafe products, sending consumers the fixed replacement products.

Claiming Compensation For Defective Products

In most instances, defective products will be spotted and a recall will be put in place before any harm is afforded to consumers, however this is not always the case and – as in the example of Takata airbags – consumers can suffer a fatal accident because of the fault.

Consumers are advised to update their contact details regularly, so that they actually receive any recall notices from manufacturers affected by a faulty product; if you receive a product recall notice you should follow the instructions on the notice as soon as possible.

If you have not received a recall notice, or you have been able to follow the instructions on the notice, and a defective product causes damages you could make a claim to cover your losses and help recover from any injury caused by the faulty product.

Rose explains the claim process for defective products:

"Manufacturers have a responsibility to ensure that their products are safe for consumers, if they discover that there is a fault or defect they have to implement a recall to ensure that consumers are safe from harm."

"In most defective product cases, a recall is implemented and consumers are protected from any potential harm caused by the defective part, however this is not always the case and defective products – especially those in cars – can cause serious undue harm."

"Another tragic fatality linked to a faulty Takata airbag highlights the significant consequences that one small oversight from manufacturers can have."

"In the UK, it is likely that consumers that own an affected car have already been contacted by a manufacturer, however if you are in any doubt about the status of your vehicle you can get in touch with a local dealer to check if your car is subject to a recall."

"The scariest aspect of this story is the sheer scale of airbags that could be defective; even on a small scale recalls can take a long, with tens of millions of cars potentially affected by a defective airbag, it's difficult seeing a timely conclusion to this scandal."

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