Answers to Your Questions About Defective Products
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Are the airbags in cars safe now that the Takata air bag recall has taken place?
Despite a massive recall of vehicles containing defective airbags, a possible sixth death has now been linked to the issue. The defective airbags were made by Japanese company Takata. The airbags can rupture as a result of inflators that over pressurize. This causes hot metal fragments to be propelled into the vehicle’s cabin. Since the discovery of this defect, over 18-million vehicles have been recalled in the United States by Honda and nine other automakers.
Recent Death Linked to Airbags Subject to Recall
Unfortunately, the injuries and deaths associated with this recall do not seem to be coming to an end despite the recall. The following is an overview of a recent death that is being linked to the airbag issue:
- On January 18th, Carlos Solis was killed after his vehicle struck another vehicle.
- Mr. Solis was driving a 2002 Honda accord at the time of the crash.
- The collision took place in a Houston parking lot.
- When the vehicles collided, the driver’s side airbag in Mr. Solis’s Honda deployed.
- A piece of metal from the air bag struck Mr. Solis in the neck.
- He was found at the accident scene with no signs of life and was later declared dead.
- Mr. Solis’s 11-year-old passenger was not injured.
How could this have happened despite the massive recall that has taken place? Mr. Solis purchased the vehicle used in April of 2014. He had yet to receive a recall notice and was not aware of the issue. While the original owner may have received such a notice, U.S. law does not require that used vehicles that have been recalled for safety issues be fixed before they can be sold. Mr. Solis’s death is raising concerns that automakers are simply not moving fast enough to replace the dangerous and defective airbags.
How can I make sure my tires are safe if I can’t rely on my internal pressure gauge?
You were so proud of your son the day he bought his first car. Although you were a little nervous, he guaranteed that he would be safe and properly care for it. He even told you that he read the user manual from cover to cover. Knowing this, you felt a little more at ease, until six months later when your son picked you up from a doctor’s appointment and you noticed that one of his tires happened to be a little flat. The ensuing conversation did not go as you had planned.
You asked him if he was aware of the deflated tire, and instead of reassuring you that he was on his way to put air in it and get it fixed, he looked completely dumbfounded. He looked down at his dashboard and then accused you of seeing things. You suggested that he take a look himself, but he refused. Your son explained that the tire couldn’t possibly be flat because his dashboard pressure gauge wasn’t lit up. If the light isn’t on, there’s no need to worry—at least that’s what the manual said.
It took all of your strength not to call him a fool. You opened up your car door and refused to close it until he checked the tire. Then the truth came out—he told you that he didn’t know how. He didn’t even know what he was looking for.
Although this made you seriously concerned about what else he didn’t know about his own car, you decided to take one problem at a time and help him learn the proper way to monitor and care for his vehicle’s tires.
Manual Tire Maintenance: Don’t Put All Your Faith in Technology
When it comes to driving safety, there are dozens of protocols and safety maneuvers that you should know. However, one of the many such pieces of advice that you should never ignore or put off is tire maintenance and monitoring. Tire stability and safety is not only one of the more important aspects of car safety, but it is easily one of the most overlooked.
According to a National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration survey, over 71 percent of polled motorists claim that they check their tires’ pressure less than once a month, and generally only when they deem it necessary. Seven percent of these motorists admitted that they have never checked their tires. This number is extremely high considering how underinflated tires cause thousands of deaths and injuries per year. Since tire failure is such a concern for vehicle safety, additional NHTSA reports suggest that maintaining proper tire pressure, observing tire and vehicle load limits (not carrying more weight than your tires or vehicle can safely handle), avoiding road hazards, and routinely inspecting tires for cuts, slashes, and other irregularities are the most important things you can do to avoid tire failure and keep your family safe from a tire-related accident.
In order to properly maintain and monitor your tires, it is important to know what to look for as well as to know your specific tires’ requirements—instead of relying solely on internal gauges.
The following tire specifications can be found on placards and certification labels that are permanently attached to the vehicle’s door edge, door post, glove-box door, or inside of the trunk lid. You can also find the recommended tire pressure and load limit for your vehicle in the vehicle owner's manual:
- Your vehicle’s recommended tire size
- Recommended tire inflation pressure
- Vehicle capacity weight (VCW–the maximum occupant and cargo weight your vehicle is designed to carry)
- Front and rear gross axle weight ratings (GAWR– the maximum weight the axle systems are designed to carry)
It is important to check your vehicle's tire pressure at least once a month. Proper monitoring includes manually:
- Checking the recommended tire pressure from the manual or placards
- Recording the tire pressure of all tires (make sure the tires aren’t warm or recently driven)
- If the tire pressure is too low, note the difference between the measured tire pressure and the correct tire pressure. These "missing" pounds of pressure are what you will need to add
- At a service station or dealer, add the missing pounds of air pressure to each tire that is underinflated.
- Check all the tires to make sure they have the same air pressure
Double Checking to Avoid an Accident
Although internal (dashboard) pressure gauges are convenient for monitoring sudden changes that occur while you’re driving, manual checks can help eliminate slow leaks or compromised tire integrity. It is also important to know that internal gauges have been known to fail or miscalculate pressure, making it difficult and dangerous to rely on 100 percent of the time.
Make sure your family and friends know the importance of routine tire checks by sharing this page with them via Facebook. If they have recently been injured as a result of faulty tires or a broken pressure gauge, tell them to contact us directly to discuss any potential questions or concerns they may have. The consultation is free but the advice could help secure your future.
Do Airbag Benefits Outweigh Their Risks?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 30,000 people have been saved by frontal and side airbags. Estimates suggest that the combination of an airbag plus a lap and shoulder belt reduces the risk of death by 61 percent (compared with a 50 percent reduction for seat belts alone). Side airbags are estimated to have reduced the driver's risk of death by 37 percent. Even though these results are encouraging, airbags can also be dangerous.
Benefits vs. Risks
Although the purpose of airbags is to prevent serious collision and impact injuries, the NHTSA has found that in some situations, they can cause more harm than good. In 2014 more than 2,000 injuries and deaths occurred as a result of defective and problematic airbags. However, even pristine airbags can have their risks. These include minor to severe bruising, deployment force injuries, defect injuries, and the occasional fatality due to mishandling, user negligence, and manufacturer defects.
However, even though the potential risks are significant, the benefits of airbags may still outweigh them. These benefits include:
- A 37 percent increase in protection from slamming into the hard steering wheel. Although airbags aren’t soft and pillow-like, they do provide some support in which to ease the forward momentum of your body from striking the steering wheel or dashboard in a collision.
- Reduced risk of serious head trauma. Since the steering wheel is placed in front of your chest and is generally angled upward, the force of a collision can drive your neck and head forcefully into the steering column, causing massive head trauma. An airbag prevents this disastrous collision.
- Reduced risk of serious whiplash and spinal problems from the impact force. As the result of the bag coming toward you as the collision force causes you to propel forward, it reduces the amount of space in which your head, neck, and spine can is whipped forward, thus decreasing painful whiplash and associative injuries.
- Helps prevent forced ejection from the car. An airbag helps provide an additional barrier to keep you inside the car during a collision instead of being ejected.
- Lowers insurance premiums. Since airbags are considered a reasonable safety feature, making sure your car is equipped with them will help lower your insurance premiums.
Weighing the Results
Perfect airbags can still run the risk of causing injuries, and unknown airbag defects could potentially put your life at risk. However, the fact of the matter is that not having an airbag drastically increases your injury and fatality risks. So which would you prefer? Potential risks, or certain risks? Fortunately, there is a third option—potential risks with added precautions.
Considering how vehicles are required to have airbags as a safety feature, you don’t really have the choice to put yourself at certain risk. However, you do have a choice to protect yourself from potential danger by following airbag safety guidelines—by following the guidelines and making sure that if you receive a recall notice you follow up on it.
Need more information on airbag injuries or claims? Contact us today for a free consultation. We’ll be happy to discuss your legal options for compensation.
Should I be concerned about defective airbags?
You just received a recall notice in the mail today about a potential defect in your car’s airbags. You’ve never received a recall notice before, so you decided to do some research on your own about the issue. You’ve already heard stories about how deployment can cause head and neck injuries, but the information you found online about airbag defects is truly horrifying.
Aren’t airbags supposed to protect you from harm? What you’ve read so far is that they’re actually killing people. Although you’re definitely going to honor the recall and get your car into the dealer as soon as possible, should you be concerned that a safety device such as an airbag could cause you more harm than good?
Concern Increases Over Defective Airbag Risks
Airbag safety has recently become a growing concern in the United States as 16-million cars have been recalled by the request of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, at the behest of the United States Congress. This recall is a direct result of defective airbags manufactured by the Takata Corporation, which have killed at least four people and injured countless others. Congressional scrutiny adds to the pressure on Takata and automakers such as Nissan, General Motors, and Toyota as recalls increase for air bags that can inflate with excessive force.
Airbags are specifically designed to reduce car accident fatalities. According to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, front airbags reduce car accident fatalities and head injuries by 26 percent, while side-impact airbags can reduce injuries up to 37 percent. However, when an airbag is defective, the life-saving apparatus can quickly turn into a life-ending mishap. The circumstances surrounding the Takata recall has drastically raised concerns about airbag safety, especially when it comes defects such as high-force inflation and the potential for the inflators to explode on impact. Driver safety concerns include:
- Excessive force may lead to critical neck injuries. Airbags generally deploy at speeds as high as 200 miles per hour, but a defective inflator could cause forces to be even greater, inflate at the wrong time, or be deployed in the wrong position.
- Inflator explosions. Airbags work as a result of impact sensors sending a signal to the bag’s inflator. The inflator releases an electrical charge to spark a chemical reaction, resulting in the inflation of the airbag with nitrogen gas. When the inflator is damaged, this spark can ignite the nitrogen gas, causing an explosion. This explosion can cause serious force injuries, as well as cause pieces of metal shrapnel to be propelled toward the driver.
- Defective tethering. In order for airbags to stay secure, they are tethered within the steering column. However, if these tethers aren’t strong enough, or a defective explosion causes them to break, the airbag not only becomes uselessly loose, but the force of the nitrogen inflation will have nothing to stop it from hitting you square in the face.
Recall Hesitation Could Be Fatal—Don’t take the Risk
As with any type of recall, it is imperative that you act as soon as you get a notification about an airbag recall for your vehicle. Make an appointment as soon as possible to get the problem fixed, or you could be tempting fate. Remember, several people have been killed by airbag defects, don’t add to that list. Be safe and follow recall instructions.
Have you or a loved one already been injured as a result of a defective airbag? Call us today for a free consultation and review of your case. You may be able to join ongoing lawsuits, or begin a new one for damage, treatment, and emotional compensation. Contact us today to see how our experience and extensive knowledge can help you and your family get the justice you deserve.