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Defective air bag recall expands nationally

Over the last few decades, automobiles in the United States, including Missouri, routinely become safer. Drivers and passengers alike can attribute the feeling of security they have, while inside of motor vehicles, to inventions, such as anti-lock brakes, crash cages, automotive design and air bags. These are but a few of the innovations that make the daily drive to work safer. But, these safety devices are only as good as companies make them, meaning, sometimes, the very devices meant to keep people safe can cause them harm.

Ford has expanded the recall of cars equipped with Takata air bags with inflators. The majority of air bags were installed in older model Mustangs made during the period between 2005 and 2008. The recall started when it was discovered that the defective air bags could explode hitting passengers with shrapnel. It was believed that the issue was contained to warmer areas with humid climates, but an airbag explosion outside of the original regional recall forced automakers, and the government to reconsider the scope of the initial recall.

There have been at least five deaths linked to the exploding air bags, although none have been reported in Ford vehicles. The recall is hitting some auto makers harder than others. Ford is only recalling about a half a million vehicles, while Chrysler has expanded its recall to cover over 3 million.

In instances like this, auto makers are usually held to a strict liability standard for claims arising from the sale of their vehicles. A strict liability standard means that regardless of whether the company knew or should have known of the defect they are still liable for the damages caused by the defect.

There are normally three criteria which must be met to pursue a strict liability claim. First, the purchased produce was defective. Second, the product must have been used as intended, and, finally, the product caused the injury for which compensation is sought.

Vehicle safety has come a long way since the horse and carriage. But, even in today’s word safety should not be taken for granted and breaches should be treated with the seriousness they deserve.

Source: Reuters, “Ford expands Takata driver-side air bag recall in U.S,” Dec. 18, 2014