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Nicoletti Walker Law Group Sept. 12, 2016

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has now opened a formal investigation into airbags made by ARC Automotive after one of its bags caused a driver’s death last month, potentially adding millions of cars to the already-existing Takata airbag recall. The airbag inflators produced by ARC are what investigators call “hybrids”; they use both gas and ammonium nitrate, the explosive compound that has led to 14 deaths and more than 100 injuries linked to the Takata airbags. Thus far, the agency has focused on ARC inflators placed in Kia, Hyundai, General Motors, and Chrysler cars (through 2004), however, it suspects that the formal investigation will go far beyond just these models. Whether or not these airbags are recalled will be determined at the conclusion of the investigation.

A History of Problems

In the most recent accident/fatality, it appears that the airbag exploded after a low-speed collision, which should have otherwise been survivable. However, this isn’t the first issue for ARC airbags; there were two cases last year in the U.S. which prompted a very preliminary investigation after drivers were injured in the process of the bags rupturing. Investigators are still unsure whether humidity contributed to the ARC-related accidents in the same way it exacerbated the explosiveness of the Takata airbags, as the ARC bags also contain an inert gas mixture stored in the bag’s inflator at high pressure.

Class Action Lawsuits

With only a portion of the Takata airbags and the cars they are featured in having been recalled thus far, and now the agency only beginning to take steps to look into another manufacturing problem that has caused numerous injuries and could lead to more deaths, the agency is (arguably) still not doing enough. This has led to many consumers taking things into their own hands and bringing class action lawsuits to address the severe injuries and potential economic losses they have suffered as the result of this defect. Many rightfully feel that they should not be left driving dangerous vehicles that could cause serious injury and/or death, and it is the manufacturer’s responsibility to ensure that all of these dangerous devices are taken off the road so that no one else is injured or killed.

Instead of doing so, reports released by Congress indicate that, in fact, some manufacturers are even still installing the dangerous airbags in new vehicles—vehicles that supposedly need to be recalled no later than 2018. It is as though consumers often have to resort to litigation in order to ensure that dangerous products like these do not continue to make their way into the market.

Contact an Attorney for Assistance

If you or a loved one has been the victim of a car accident and/or negligence at the hands of a manufacturer or recalled vehicle, Mike Walker can help. Clearwater attorney Mike Walker regularly represents clients in Florida who have been the unfortunate victims of road safety issues. Contact the office today and he can start helping you.