Product liability news: air bag recall expanded

By now most drivers in Ohio have already heard of the Takata air bag recall that has made both local and national headlines. What started as nearly 29 million air bags in need of replacement just ballooned by another 40 million, putting an even greater number of motorists and their passengers at serious risk for injury or even death. When toxic or hazardous materials create dangerous situations, victims often feel as though fines levied against manufacturers are not sufficient for addressing the full extent of the damage, and some pursue product liability suits.

The auto parts maker Takata is facing a fine of $200 million by U.S. auto safety regulators for its defectively designed air bags. Due to a lack of a desiccant -- a chemical drying agent -- moisture can permeate the area in which the air bag is stored. The collected moisture has ultimately been found to play a major role in the rupture of Takata air bags ,which have shot shrapnel at drivers and passengers in the affected vehicles.

The ruptured air bags have so far been definitively linked to 10 deaths in America and another 11 elsewhere in the world. Approximately 100 people have also been injured because of the defect, although it is quite possible that even more injury victims exist. Since the air bags do not rupture or release shrapnel until a wreck has already occurred, it can sometimes be difficult to determine which injuries are the result of a wreck and which are caused solely by the air bag.

The pace for recalling and replacing the defective air bags has been sluggish thus far, leaving people on the road in the compromised positions of being potentially harmed by hazardous materials. Many drivers in Ohio have no other option forms of transportation and rely on their personal motor vehicles to travel to and from work, school and even the grocery store. Product liability suits are often the best approach to truly hold manufacturers accountable for the pain and suffering, medical bills and loss of life caused by their defective products.

Source: CBS News, "Biggest air bag recall in U.S. history gets massively bigger", Kate Gibson, May 4, 2016

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