Avoid Injury: Pay Attention to Vehicle Airbag Recalls
According to the United States Department of Transportation, vehicle air bags saved the lives of 2,790 people in 2017. It is widely accepted that these frontal and side devices are an important safeguard in the event of a head-on or t-bone collision. The personal injury attorneys at Joseph Joy and Associates in Lafayette have witnessed the devastating results of defective or improperly functioning air bags. It is surprising, though, that many drivers in Louisiana are apparently ignoring a recall for defective air bags.
Takata is a Japanese airbag manufacturer and supplies about 20% of the world’s air bags. It issued a recall because certain airbags may explode and shoot shrapnel toward vehicle occupants, according to a press release by Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA). If your vehicle was made between 2010 and 2016, it’s important to check whether you may be at risk.
The recalled airbags can be found in the following models:
- 2010 Ram 3500 pickup
- 2010 Ram 4500/5500 chassis cab
- 2010-2011 Dodge Dakota pickup
- 2010-2014 Dodge Challenger sport coupe
- 2011-2015 Dodge Charger sedan
- 2010-2015 Chrysler 300 sedan
- 2010-2016 Jeep® Wrangler SUV
FCA estimates that 152,000 vehicles in Louisiana contain these faulty airbags, and have not yet been repaired. It is important to be certain whether your airbags have been recalled. To check, please visit https://www.checktoprotect.org/ . After you enter four Vehicle Identification Number, you can schedule an appointment for your airbag to be repaired for free, without any cost to you.
According to an article by Lafayette radio news station KPEL, many drivers have ignored the recall. Chris Freeman is a spokesperson for FCA: “This is an urgent matter and these life-saving devices are designed to protect you and save you, but because of the defect they can turn into a life-threatening device,” he said.
Freeman goes on to mention that drivers in Louisiana are especially at risk, because the heat and humidity can affect a defective airbag. “If a piece inside an airbag degrades over time as it is exposed to that heat and humidity and then if the airbag deploys in a crash, sharp pieces from that piece inside can break off and it essentially becomes shrapnel,” Freeman is quoted as saying.
An article by USA Today claims that there have been more than 200 people injured by this particular airbag, which has caused the largest recall in automotive history. So far, seven people have died in Malaysia due to the airbags, as well as a man in Australia.
According to the National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration, in Louisiana, the lives of 59 people age 13 years and older were saved by frontal airbags. Airbags are additional protection designed to work in combination with seatbelts. They reduce the chance of your upper body or head will strike the interior of your vehicle during a collision, preventing serious head injury. Vehicles can be equipped with both front and side airbags. Frontal airbags have been standard issue in passenger car since 1998 in an all SUVs, pickups and vans since 1999. Side airbags are optional on many new passenger vehicles
It’s important for your safety to ensure your vehicle has no active recalls. According to checktoprotect.com, a program of the National Safety Council, 42 million vehicles have dangerous recalled airbags. Even if your vehicle is not a part of the most recent FCA recall, you may still be at risk. The Check to Protect database checks for all open recalls on your vehicle for free.
The State of Louisiana feels so strongly about airbags as a safety device, the legislature enacted penalties for installation of counterfeit airbags. See law below*.
If you have been injured by faulty equipment of any kind, you may have a case for compensation. Manufacturers have a responsibility to ensure that their products are safe and fit for public use. But at the same time, if a recall is issued, be sure and take the necessary steps to remedy the issue. It could save your life or prevent serious personal injury. If you’ve been injured by a vehicle or equipment malfunction, call Joseph Joy and Associates at (337) 232-8123. We’ve won millions for our clients, and have years of experience representing citizens in Lafayette and across Acadiana.
*Louisiana Revised Statutes Tit. 14, § 231. Counterfeit and nonfunctional air bags prohibited; air bag fraud
A. No person shall knowingly install or reinstall in any motor vehicle a counterfeit or nonfunctional air bag or any other object intended to fulfill the function of an air bag that does not meet the definition of “air bag” set forth in Subsection D of this Section.
B. No person shall knowingly manufacture, import, sell, or offer for sale a counterfeit or nonfunctional air bag or any other object intended to fulfill the function of an air bag that does not meet the definition of “air bag” set forth in Subsection D of this Section.
C. No person shall knowingly sell, install, or reinstall a device in a motor vehicle that causes the diagnostic system of the vehicle to indicate inaccurately that the vehicle is equipped with a functional air bag.
D. For purposes of this Section:
(1) “Air bag” means an inflatable occupant restraint system, including all component parts, such as the cover, sensors, controllers, inflators, and wiring, designed to activate in a motor vehicle in the event of a crash to mitigate injury or ejection and that meets the federal motor vehicle safety standards set forth in 49 C.F.R. 571.208 for the make, model, and model year of the motor vehicle.
(2) “Counterfeit air bag” means an air bag displaying a mark identically or substantially similar to the genuine mark of a motor vehicle manufacturer, without the authorization of the motor vehicle manufacturer.
(3) “Nonfunctional air bag” means any of the following:
(a) A replacement air bag that has been previously deployed or damaged.
(b) A replacement air bag that has an electrical fault that is detected by the air bag diagnostic system after the air bag is installed.
(c) A counterfeit air bag, air bag cover, or some other object that is installed in a motor vehicle in order to mislead or deceive an owner or operator of the motor vehicle into believing that a functional air bag has been installed.
(4) “Serious bodily injury” means bodily injury that involves unconsciousness, extreme physical pain, protracted and obvious disfigurement, protracted loss or impairment of the function of a bodily member, organ, or mental faculty, or a substantial risk of death.
E. Whoever violates the provisions of Subsection A or C of this Section shall:
(1) Upon first conviction, be fined not more than one thousand dollars, or imprisoned for not more than six months, or both, except as provided in Paragraph (2) of this Subsection.
(2) Upon a second and subsequent conviction, or if the violation results in the serious bodily injury or death of any person, be fined not more than two thousand five hundred dollars, or imprisoned, with or without hard labor, for not more than one year, or both.
F. Whoever violates the provisions of Subsection B of this Section shall:
(1) Upon conviction, be fined not more than two thousand five hundred dollars, or imprisoned, with or without hard labor, for not more than one year, or both, except as provided in Paragraphs (2) and (3) of this Subsection.
(2) Upon conviction, if the cumulative sales price of the air bags or objects involved in the violation is at least five thousand dollars but less than one hundred thousand dollars, or if the number of air bags or objects involved in the violation is at least one hundred but less than one thousand, be fined not more than five thousand dollars, or imprisoned, with or without hard labor, for not less than six months nor more than two years, or both.
(3) Upon conviction, if the cumulative sales price of the air bags or objects involved in the violation is one hundred thousand dollars or more, or if the number of air bags or objects involved in the violation is one thousand or more, be fined not more than ten thousand dollars, or imprisoned, with or without hard labor, for not less than one year nor more than five years, or both.
G. Each manufacture, importation, installation, reinstallation, sale, or offer for sale in violation of this Section shall constitute a separate and distinct violation.