When Airbags Kill

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

Q: If a safety device causes injuries or death, is the manufacturer responsible?

Automotive technology has been advancing at light speed in recent years with self-driving cars no longer something out of a sci-fi movie. Back-up cameras and airbags are some of the more recent safety features to come down the assembly line.

But what happens when these so-called “safety features” aren’t exactly safe?

Take Takata® airbags. Reportedly, airbags manufactured by the Japanese-based Takata® company, use a chemical called ammonium nitrate which causes a small, contained explosion to initiate the prompt inflation of its airbags upon impact. Apparently, the explosion is not always small or contained. In fact, the metal container that houses this reaction can explode and send metal shrapnel shooting throughout the cabin of the vehicle, injuring or killing the driver and passengers. The chemical can deteriorate if exposed to prolonged heat and/or humidity.

In September, 2016, a California woman was reportedly the 11th victim to die from the defective inflators. Honda, the manufacturer of the Civic she was driving claims multiple recall notices were sent to the driver but the vehicle was not serviced. It’s estimated that 300,000 recalled Hondas of an original 100,000 affected by the recall, have still not been repaired. Older Honda and Acura models with Takata® airbags are estimated to have a 50% chance of exploding.

As a result of this product defect, 69 million vehicles in the US with these Takata® air bag inflators have been recalled by the various manufacturers in the biggest automotive recall in US history. If you include worldwide stats, the numbers are close to 100 million.

If you’ve been injured as a result of a defect in an automobile, you may be entitled to sue the manufacturer or supplier in a product liability case to recover damages for your personal injuries.

If a loved one has been killed as a result of a defect in an automobile, certain surviving relatives who depended on the victim for support may be able to bring a wrongful death suit for compensation for such things as the amount of financial support the deceased person would have provided, loss of care and companionship, cost of pre-death medical treatment, and funeral expenses. It won’t bring your family back, but it can help relieve the financial burden of your tragic loss.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.