Airbags work in conjunction with seatbelts to reduce the severity of injuries in case of a car crash. They tend to be very reliable, except when they’re defective. That’s the contention of a safety coalition comprised of state and civic officials about the Takata airbags. The Orange County Register has reported that these faulty airbags reach more than a million, and that they still have not been fixed. As a result, these airbags are putting many lives at risk.
What’s Wrong with the Airbags?
It is fortunate that the concerns of the coalition have been heard. In what’s now considered the biggest auto recall in American history with millions of vehicles which have these defective Takata airbags have been recalled. This federal recall involves 19 car makers, 42 million vehicles, and 70 million individual air bags.
The particular defect is in the inflator of the airbag. It uses ammonium nitrate, which is a chemical that’s usually found in fertilizers. This chemical can break down depending on the heat and humidity of the environment. This deterioration can cause the airbags to deploy with explosively, and they can even blast shrapnel into the car interior and hurt the passengers.
The potential for injury is no longer a hypothetical possibility. The US Department of Transportation has reported that 11 deaths have already been ascribed to these defective airbags and 3 of these deaths were in California. There have also been more than 180 reported injuries, which include broken teeth, shattered bones, and various lacerations.
Takata has pleaded guilty to charges of wire fraud and conspiracy, and for deceiving automaker companies about the true safety of the airbags. Takata has also consented to pay a penalty of a billion dollars.
What Can You Do?
With 19 car brands and 42 million vehicles affected, there’s a fair chance that your car is part of the recall. You have to make sure of this, but you can easily check online. All you need to do is to airbagrecall.com. Manually enter your VIN or even your license plate number. If you wish, you can also use your smartphone and take a photo of your license plate, and then submit your photo to find out if your vehicle is affected.
You can also call your local dealer and ask them if your vehicle is part of the recall. If it is, the automaker will replace your airbags at no charge. Some automakers have offered to take affected vehicles to a licensed dealer to have the airbags fixed/replaced. This keeps you from having to drive the car to the dealer. In some cases, while you wait for your airbags to be replaced the automaker may even provide you with a free rental car.
However, if you do get hurt by these airbags, you should see an experienced auto defect lawyer right away. Find out what your legal rights and options are in getting a fair compensation.