Officials recently confirmed that a faulty airbag killed a Spring man in a low-speed collision last month. In its report, the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences concluded that the 25-year-old father of two died from blunt-force neck trauma. The man was driving his 2002 Honda Accord when he bumped into another car near a parking lot. Despite the nature of the collision – the man suffered no other injuries – the Takata-made airbag inflated with such force that it blew up a metal canister and sent shrapnel flying into the passenger compartment. This case is the sixth fatality, and 64th injury, blamed on the defective airbags. Over 19 million cars have been recalled so far.
Manufacturers have a duty to sell safe products that work properly. Nevertheless, dangerous products are sold every day.
- Manufacturing Defect: The hazard sometimes occurs on the manufacturing floor. A screw hole may be off-center by a few degrees, a critical sensor may be improperly calibrated, or there may be too much space between vital components.
- Design Defect: Other products are defective while they are still on the drawing board. For example, a car’s gas tank may be too close to a potential impact zone, critical gears may be too weak to withstand normal wear and tear, or certain parts that are considered “nonessential” are entirely left out to conserve costs.
Damages in a product defect case can include compensation for economic and non-economic losses. Punitive damages may also be available in many cases. According to Honda, the 2002 Accord in the above incident was recalled in 2011 but, for some reason, was never serviced. Due to the large number of Takata airbag failures in Texas, Florida, Puerto Rico and other areas, there is speculation that high humidity may cause the propellant to deteriorate, which in turn causes the bags to overinflate and rupture. If that is the case, a design defect may be a likely culprit. Or, perhaps an engineer decided to go with a cheaper propellant that was not as robust. In any case, as long as the defect occurred before the product left the manufacturer’s control, that entity is probably responsible for any personal injury damages. Defective products injure and kill thousands of Texans every year. Contact our office for a free consultation with a New Braunfels personal injury attorney. There are no upfront legal fees in an injury case.