More Fatal Crashes Prompt Expanded Recalls and Intensified Federal Investigation of Non-Inflating ZF-TRW Airbags
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently announced an expansion of their investigation of faulty ZF-TRW Automotive Holding Corp (ZF-TRW) air bag controllers in an estimated 12.3 million vehicles. The affected vehicles have airbags that could fail to deploy during a collision. The inquiry covers vehicles manufactured by six automakers that include designated Kia, Fiat Chrysler, Toyota, Honda, Mitsubishi, and Hyundai models produced in 2010 through 2019. The federal regulatory agency reports that frontal airbags in the affected vehicles might be disabled in a collision by electrical signals overloading the airbag controller.
The intensified scrutiny by regulators follows reports of a half a dozen deaths and many more injuries in vehicles where airbags failed to deploy during crashes. The investigation was upgraded from a “preliminary evaluation” to an “engineering analysis” in April 2019. According to documents filed in a pending lawsuit filed in a California federal court against Kia Motor America, Hyundai Motor America, and ZF-TRW, a defect in the application-specific integrated circuit (ASIC) causes a malfunction of the airbag control unit (ACU), an electronic component that registers signals received from collision sensors. The ACU can be damaged by electrical signals generated by the force of a collision. Failure of the ACU can prevent airbag deployment and seatbelt pretensioners from functioning and significantly compromise the safety of vehicle occupants. The complaint filed in the lawsuit also alleges that ZF-TRW became aware of the defect as early as 2010 but did not act to warn or protect the public until 2018.
While Kia and Hyundai were the first to recall approximately 1.1 million vehicles last year based on the airbag malfunction reports, the investigation has been expanded in the wake of fatalities involving Fiat Chrysler and Toyota Corolla vehicle crashes in which the airbags failed to deploy.
The relatively slow response of automakers to the deployment failure of frontal airbags comes shortly after the massive recall of 70 million airbag inflators manufactured by Takata that have been linked to 24 deaths and over 200 injuries. While the exploding airbags that can propel shrapnel at vehicle occupants are not directly related to the current airbag recalls, both situations involve a parts manufacturer that allegedly supplied airbag parts to multiple automakers that equipped millions of vehicles with the defective airbag system components.
While the investigation is ongoing, individuals who suffer more severe injuries in a collision because their airbag failed to deploy as designed could have a right to pursue damages that include medical bills, pain and suffering, disability/disfigurement, vehicle repair/replacement, emotional distress, loss of consortium, and other damages based on the specific facts and applicable law. Product liability claims involving defective automobiles entail aking on large well-funded corporations and their insurance companies, as well as companies that design, manufacture, and/or sell defective vehicles or parts. However, companies that harm consumers with their defective products can be strictly liable for resulting harm experienced by consumers/.
If you or your family have suffered injury or lost a loved one because a vehicle airbag failed to deploy, you should promptly seek legal advice. The right to bring a product liability claim is subject to strict legal deadlines. These cases also typically involve significant research and experts to assist in uncovering defects, establishing a causal link between the defect and resulting injuries, and identifying the parties responsible for resulting injuries.
The National Product Liability Lawyers at the Law Offices of Jason Turchin currently are reviewing potential claims on behalf of individuals who have suffered injuries or the death of a family member because their ZF-TRW airbag failed to deploy in an accident. We offer a no obligation free case evaluation, so call us today at (800) 510-0750S. That’s (800) 510-0750. No Recovery No Fee.