If you were hurt in a car accident in which your airbag either didn’t deploy or deployed incorrectly, Florida law may entitle you to significant compensation. You may already have heard that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recalled many Takata airbags because of defects that caused some airbags to explode when they inflated. The NHTSA also has concerns about airbags made by a second manufacturer that were installed in 2010 to 2019 Toyotas, Hondas, Kias, Hyundais, Mitsubishis, Fiats, Chryslers, Dodges, and Jeeps.
On April 19, 2019, the NHTSA announced that it is investigating reports of malfunctioning airbags made by the airbag manufacturer ZF-TRW. This means NHTSA is one step closer to recalling millions of cars in the U.S. with ZF-TRW-made airbags. According to the announcement, the NHTSA’s inquiry will examine whether the ZF-TRW airbag control unit (ACU) installed in approximately 12.3 million vehicles “could fail during a crash event resulting in non-deployment of airbags and seat belt pretensioners.”
Our law firm is keeping a close eye on whether there will be a recall of the ZF-TRW ACUs. In the meantime, however, these cars and their ACUs are still on the road and may be very unsafe for drivers and passengers who rely on them in a collision. Car accident victims injured or killed because an airbag did not deploy or deployed incorrectly need skilled legal representation to protect their right to recover damages from airbag manufacturers. Look for a law firm with the resources and experience to investigate and litigate even extremely complicated airbag defect matters. Contact us to learn how we might be able to help you recover the compensation you deserve.
About Our Mass Tort and Product Defect Practice
In the area of personal injury law, there are two special, related categories of large, high-profile cases referred to as “mass tort” or “product defect” cases. These cases involve investigating and litigating widespread harm caused by a single event or defective product, such as when an oil spill damages hundreds of miles of coastline or a defective auto part was installed in millions of vehicles.
Over the years, Sibley Dolman and Dolman Law Group have recovered millions of dollars for clients injured in a wide range of personal injury matters, especially motor vehicle accidents. Recently, we have begun reaching out to potential clients harmed by using Roundup, a weed killer made by the giant Monsanto corporation. Now, we are seeking to represent victims of malfunctioning airbags, too.
Sibley Dolman and Dolman Law Group’s clients not only receive excellent representation but also get the personal attention they deserve. We have the resources and know-how of law firms three times our size—the sort of firms the big corporations hire to defend themselves—but we also treat our clients in a way that makes them feel like they are part of a close-knit “family.” Over the years, our high-profile legal work has earned us industry awards and recognition, but we are most proud of the praise we receive from our clients who appreciate our responsiveness and attention to their individual needs.
Overview of Takata and ZF-TRW Airbag Problems
Airbags are supposed to keep drivers and passengers safe in collisions. Unfortunately, since 2000, waves of concern have grown about whether these devices pose extreme danger to the very people they’re supposed to protect. Here is an overview of the issues surrounding airbag-related components made by manufacturers Takata and ZF-TRW.
Some Takata Airbags May Deploy With Explosive Force
According to Consumer Reports, the NHTSA’s recall of Takata airbags is the largest automotive recall in U.S. history. It affects 41.6 million vehicles made by 19 different car manufacturers, mostly from model years 2002 to 2015.
The recall focuses on an airbag component called an “inflator,” which as the name suggests is the mechanism that inflates an airbag when it’s triggered by a collision. The Takata inflators subject to the recall sometimes deploy with explosive force that can injure or kill vehicle occupants and send shards of material flying through the car’s passenger compartment. These defects have killed at least 16 persons in the United States, and injured more than 300 people worldwide.
There is a long list of vehicles subject to the Takata recall. Some Honda, Acura, Ford, and Mazda models containing what are known as “Alpha” airbags pose such a high risk of explosive airbag deployment that NHTSA advises owners not to drive them under any circumstances until their airbag components are replaced.
One of the most frightening aspects of the Takata airbag recall is that many cars subject to recall have not been fixed and are still on the road with defective Takata airbag inflators in them. Just last year, according to Consumer Reports, Honda reported that a driver who purchased a used 2002 Honda Civic died because of an explosive Takata inflator. Unfixed vehicles under recall in South Florida pose an especially high risk to drivers and passengers because, according to NHTSA, “long-term exposure to combined high heat and humidity” like the conditions in South Florida are what “creates the risk that a Takata airbag will explode.”
At Sibley Dolman and Dolman Law Group, we can help people recover damages after a Takata airbag failure, but we hope that if you have a defective airbag in your car you get it fixed before you are injured or worse. If you haven’t checked already, we urge you to look up whether your car (or a car you’re thinking of buying) is subject to the Takata airbag recall and, if it is, get the problem fixed right away. It is likely the fix will cost you little to nothing, and it could save your life.
Some ZF-TRW Airbag ACUs Send Faulty Signals, Causing The Airbag Not to Deploy in an Accident
The emerging issue with ZF-TRW airbag ACUs is different from the issue with Takata airbags. Takata airbag inflators pose a risk of explosive deployment, but ZF-TRW airbags might not deploy at all because their ACUs fail to send appropriate electrical signals to trigger deployment in a crash.
Although NHTSA has not (as of early June 2019) issued a recall of vehicles containing ZF-TRW airbags, many auto manufacturers have independently issued recalls for their own cars. According to the Associated Press, thus far the auto-makers Kia, Hyundai, and Fiat Chrysler have recalled their vehicles containing ZF-TRW airbags without waiting for NHTSA to issue a recall.
Anyone who drives a 2010-2019 Toyota, Honda, Kia, Hyundai, Mitsubishi, Fiat, Chrysler, Dodge, or Jeep (or other brands made by these companies) should not wait for a recall to have their vehicle’s airbag ACU checked. Even if you have to pay to replace your ACU, you should do so if possible. Keep all of your documentation so that if a recall is issued and/or a legal settlement takes place, you can document your potential right to reimbursement.
How We Can Help
We urge everyone reading this to take airbag defects seriously and to get their car checked out to make sure it does not have airbag components known to have proven or suspected defects.
Unfortunately, we also know that there is no way to ensure every vehicle containing a defective Takata airbag inflator or a potentially defective ZF-TRW airbag ACU will be fixed. This means that there will be more people who are hurt or die in accidents involving these products. We may be able to help the victims when airbag-related tragedy strikes. Once we agree to take on a case, we may:
- Investigate the airbag malfunction to determine whether it is a known or suspected defect, or if its failure might point to a previously unknown problem. Not every lawyer has the know-how to carry out this kind of investigation, but we do. When necessary, we work with automotive experts to analyze evidence and produce reports that detail how and why an individual airbag failed.
- Advise our clients on whether and how to seek compensation from any existing settlement fund. Victims have filed “class action” lawsuits (in which a few victims bring claims on behalf of a large class of people “similarly situated” to them) over the Takata airbag failures and for some vehicle makes and models manufacturers have set aside large pools of money to compensate vehicle owners and others harmed by an airbag failure. Not every airbag-related injury qualifies for compensation under these class action settlements, however. Speak with a lawyer about how existing settlements might affect your rights.
- Negotiate with and litigate against auto parts manufacturers to recover compensation for anyone injured because of an airbag system defect. Depending on the circumstances of your accident, this might occur through a class action lawsuit, or in an individual action.
This is just an overview of the legal services the team at Sibley Dolman and Dolman Law Group provides to victims of defective airbags. These are complex cases that require the skill and diligence possessed by only lawyers with experience like ours.
Damages in Malfunctioning Airbag Cases
Victims of malfunctioning airbags may have the right to significant compensation. In many cases, the law holds manufacturers “strictly liable,” meaning that they owe victims compensation regardless of the circumstances of the victim’s injury, if a court finds that the product was unreasonably dangerous. Those injured by a product when it fails to perform as intended under normal operating conditions may be able to recover damages to help them pay for:
- Medical costs and long term care;
- Pain, suffering, and disfigurement;
- Loss of income and the ability to earn an income; and
- Loss of life enjoyment and companionship.
There is, of course, no guarantee that a legal action will result in compensation for the victim. The outcome of any given case depends on its particular facts, the applicable law, and the skill and experience of the lawyers representing both sides.
Why Skilled Legal Representation Matters in Malfunctioning Airbag Cases
Victims can’t entrust their legal representation to just any lawyer in a matter involving a malfunctioning airbag. Why? Because unlike an “ordinary” personal injury matter involving, say, a two-car collision, airbag failures are anything but routine. They’re complex, technical, and the party on the other side is usually a massive corporation with unlimited funds to spend on defense lawyers and forensic experts. Injured parties need a law firm with the same amount of firepower as the opposing side who isn’t afraid to stand up to the biggest opponents and fight for their right to compensation.
To make the most of a claim against an airbag manufacturer, victims also need a lawyer who has a combination of two distinct skills. The lawyer must have the sophistication to understand the law of “mass torts” and “product liability,” and to argue complex legal principles to judges in a way that earns respect. At the same time, the lawyer needs to be able, if necessary, to explain highly technical concepts to members of a jury who have no particular training in automotive mechanics. The lawyers at Sibley Dolman and Dolman Law Group have that rare mix of talents.
Your Attorneys for Malfunctioning Airbag Matters
Did you or a loved one suffer harm in an incident involving an airbag that didn’t work the way it should have? If so, the experienced attorneys at Sibley Dolman and Dolman Law Group want to hear from you right away. The law may entitle you to significant compensation, but only if you act quickly to preserve your rights. Contact us today online or call us at 833-552-7274 (833-55-CRASH). Lawyers in our offices throughout Florida are waiting to hear from you.
Dolman Law Group Accident Injury Lawyers, PA
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765