For years now, explosions and serious injuries, even deaths, have been reported with automobile airbags made by the Japanese manufacturer Takata Corp. and installed in various makes and models of vehicles around the world.
General Motors was the latest, with the company recently ordering the recall of 5.9 million large pickup trucks and SUVs on reports that the airbags exploded and propelled shrapnel-like pieces of metal that struck drivers and passengers.
GM had tried to stave off such a recall for the past four years in petitions to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, contending the airbags were safe. But accusations by vehicle owners that the company was putting profits over safety helped push NHTSA to demand the recall, one which reportedly will cost GM $1.2 billion (or about one-third of its net income this year).
The airbags are actually intended to use an explosion to propel the airbags quickly to protect passengers, but the explosion is supposed to be small and controlled. Takata has used a volatile substance, ammonium nitrate, to create the explosion to fill air bags in the event of a crash. But the chemical has been found to deteriorate when exposed to heat and humidity and explode with too much force, blowing apart a metal canister whose pieces are expelled with great force.
According to a recent report by the Associated Press, there have been at least 27 deaths as a result, with most in the United States. There is no official report on the number of injuries, but that number is likely far greater.
The latest airbag recall involved GM vehicles from model years 2007-2014, including:
- Chevrolet Silverado 1500, 2500 and 3500 pickup trucks
- Chevrolet Suburban
- Chevrolet Tahoe
- Chevrolet Avalanche
- Cadillac Escalade
- GMC Sierra 1500, 2500 and 3500
- xGMC Yukon
Previous recalls involving Takata airbags over the past several years included autos made by Toyota, BMW, Audi, Honda, Mitsubishi and Isuzu.
People who suffered serious injuries or even death as a result an exploding airbag may have grounds for a civil lawsuit. Kline & Specter, with more than 40 attorneys, has the expertise and experience to handle such airbag lawsuits. The firm’s lawyers have won billions in personal injury cases, including verdicts of $153 million, $52 million and $8.75 million against Ford Motor Co. alone in trials involving Ford F-series pickup trucks that had been equipped with a faulty parking brake. The law firm won the four largest verdicts of 2019 in Pennsylvania and also last year won four of the nation’s Top 100 verdicts, the most by any law firm in the nation.