Defective Product Can Explode, Dangerous for Vehicle Passengers

November 3, 2015
By Rhine Law Firm, P.C.

When a North Carolina consumer purchases a product and uses it according to the manufacturer’s instructions, he or she has a reasonable right to expect that it is safe to use. Some products, such as power tools, obviously have a certain amount of inherent risk during use. Even then, a consumer must be protected against design flaws or defects that can pose safety hazards. A vast recall in the United States of more than 19 million motor vehicles led to an international recall when a defective product within the vehicles was said to have the potential to explode, shooting fragments of metal at passengers.

The item in question is the Takata airbag. In the United States, more than 12 different automakers joined the recall effort. The company was accused of providing inaccurate information to consumers and regulators for at least six years. Worldwide, more than 100 injuries and eight fatalities are said to have been suffering due to the airbags.

A particular chemical compound, a propellant known as ammonium nitrate, is suspected to cause ruptures in the bags, resulting in an explosion. Patents show that Takata engineers were reportedly aware of the potentially disastrous effects that heat and moisture can have on the compound. The company was recently severely penalized with fines that could add up to $200 million imposed by federal regulators.

The company has also been ordered to recall the millions of vehicles still on the road that contain the defective product. Whenever a North Carolina resident is injured by a faulty product in a motor vehicle — or a household product, power tool, or any consumer product — it is possible that there may be grounds for a legal claim to be filed. In order to determine whether there is sufficient reason to pursue legal action and to obtain help in identifying all possible sources of liability in the matter, it is typically advisable to act under the guidance of an experienced products liability lawyer.

Source: The New York Times, “U.S. Regulators Fine Takata Up to $200 Million Over Faulty Airbags“, Danielle Ivory, Hiroko Tabuchi, Nov. 3, 2015
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