On March 4, 2014, the NHTSA sent a letter to GM with 107 questions about GM’s February 7, 2014, recall of more than 600,000 Chevrolet Cobalt and Pontiac G5 vehicles. The recall was announced after it was determined that the vehicles contained a defect in which the ignition switch could inadvertently be moved from the “run” position to the “accessory” or “off” position, resulting in a loss of power. U.S. safety regulators have recorded 303 deaths when airbags failed to deploy in 1.6 million compact cars recalled last month by GM. The new report and higher death toll ratchet up the pressure on GM, which has said it has reports of 12 deaths in 34 crashes in the recalled cars.
NHTSA has been criticized for not pressing GM to recall the cars with defective switches, despite receiving hundreds of consumer complaints in the past ten years and implementing its own investigations of 2 fatalities related to the faulty ignition switches. Furthermore, the NHTSA noted, on February 25, 2014, that GM added more vehicles to the recall list due to the same safety defect. The approximately 750,000 additional vehicles included Chevrolet HHR, Pontiac Solstice, Saturn Ion and Saturn Key vehicles.
In a statement on its website, NHTSA said some information provided by automakers to the EWR database remains confidential, including “warranty claims, consumer complaints to the manufacturer, field reports” and the full vehicle identification number in death and injury claims.
Defective Airbags Statistics
Since 1990, when the NHTSA began keeping statistics on defective airbags, more than 280 people suffered fatal injuries, and thousands more were hurt as a result of an airbag that failed to deploy. Nearly 50 automobile manufacturers have recalled at least one car model due to defective airbags. Statistics show that defective airbags can fail in several ways:
- they can fail to deploy
- they can deploy late, or the deployment is incomplete
- deployment can occur at a wrong or unnecessary occasion
- defective materials can be the cause of their failure
- defective electronic systems
- defective or uneven inflation
Common Injuries Due to Defective Airbags
Airbags are intended to protect drivers and passengers in the event of an accident, and in most cases, they serve their purpose.
However, airbags do malfunction from time to time, and can severely injure drivers and passengers.
Features that are intended to protect can cause devastating injuries and even death if they malfunction.
The most commonly reported airbag-related injuries include:
- concussions and head injury
- hearing loss or blindness
- broken or sprained necks
- facial impact injuries and severe bruising
- airbag burns
- wrongful death
It is crucial to hold the manufacturers accountable for their negligence, whether it is based on design defects, manufacturing errors, improper maintenance or defective materials. Product liability lawsuits and be filed against:
- a car manufacturer
- a car parts manufacturer
- the shipping company
- the car dealer
Even if the car has already been recalled, if the owner suffered an injury due to a defect, he or she still has the right to file a product liability lawsuit. The amount of compensation a victim can receive depends on the amount of damages suffered. The compensation received by victims covers medical expenses, long term medical care, lost wages and property damages.
How Can the O'Brien & Zehnder Law Firm Help?
The Sacramento & Elk Grove-based O'Brien & Zehnder Law Firm has a proven record of success in a wide range of product liability claims. We work together with design engineers, safety experts, automotive industry analysts and other specialists to determine whether the vehicle or one of its components was defective. We investigate the circumstances of the accidents and use accident reconstruction techniques to defend your rights, assisting you with every stage of your lawsuit. If you have been injured as a result of a defective airbag or any other product, contact the O'Brien & Zehnder Law Firm at 800.722.4176 for quality legal representation in your case in Sacramento and Elk Grove areas.