GM has recalled over 7 million SUVs and pickups worldwide, with defective airbags linked to the same manufacturer whose airbags killed 17 people in the United States.
On November 23rd, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recalled the vehicles, despite GM’s claims that the airbags did not necessitate replacement.
Faulty Takata Airbags
The recall centers around defects in the airbags produced by the now-bankrupt Japanese manufacturer, Takata, that caused them to spray shrapnel throughout the vehicle when they exploded. Criminal charges were brought against Takata for previous recalls, and they eventually sold the company to an auto parts supplier in China. Many passengers and drivers have been maimed, blinded, and killed by the airbags.
NHTSA hired Harold Blomquist, a chemical expert on airbags with over 25 patents to his name, to look at the data. He concluded that the airbags inside GM’s SUVs and pickups had unusually high pressure, which indicated that they posed a risk of becoming ruptured at some point. The NHTSA also mentioned in its documents that GM’s inflators had a degradation continuum similar to other Takata airbags that exploded.
GM Airbag Recall History
Previously, GM had recalled over 800,000 vehicles that included Takata airbags but argued that its tests proved that the airbags had a different type of inflator than the devices that were part of the previous recall. Therefore, these new airbags did not pose a threat to the driver or the passenger. The NHTSA rejected the company’s argument and ordered it to recall over 5.9 million vehicles registered in the U.S.
The decision comes over six years after the first recalls linked to Takata airbags occurred in 2014. These auto recalls ultimately became one of the largest in history. The U.S. portion of the Takata airbag recall had already installed over 63 million airbags in 40 million vehicles before the recall announcement.
GM Denies Defective Airbags Pose Risks
GM said it would recall its domestic vehicles and 1.1 million additional models in other parts of the world to comply with the recalls, but the company is still convinced that the airbags are safe.
“We believe that the recall was not warranted based on scientific and factual evidence,” said GM. “However, we will take the necessary steps to replace the airbags in compliance with NHTSA’s decision.”
Since 2016, the agency had been petitioned four times by GM to avoid recalls, claiming that the inflator canisters were found to be safe in testing and on the road. The NHTSA denied the petitions, as their findings showed that the inflators still posed a risk of explosion. The NHTSA received complaints from owners that the company was more concerned about profits than they were about its customers’ safety.
This latest recall will be quite costly for GM. According to the automaker’s annual financial report, it will cost $1.2 billion to replace all of the airbags. GM will have to foot the bill due to Takata’s bankruptcy. The company will spend around $400 million in 2021 and additional funds in the years to come.
Despite the fact that the first recall of defective airbags occurred in 2014, only 75% of the GM vehicles in the recall were brought in to be repaired. The airbags were fixed at no cost to the owners. Currently, no deadline exists for when recalled vehicles must be replaced or repaired.
GM will recall 2007 through 2014 model SUVs and full-size pickups, including Chevy’s Silverado 3500, 2500, and 1500 pickups. The Silverado is the second-best-selling vehicle in the United States and one of GM’s top-selling vehicles. Also included in the recall are the GMC Yukon, GMC Sierra 3500, 2500, and 1500, the Cadillac Escalade, and the Chevy Avalanche, Tahoe, and Suburban.
Owners will receive a notification in the mail if their vehicle is part of the recall. They can also enter the VIN number of their vehicle on this website.
Who is Liable for Injuries
Numerous parties could be held accountable for any damages an owner sustained if the airbag did not operate properly due to a product defect. If a product harms a consumer, the manufacturer is held financially responsible under strict product liability laws.
Several parties could be held potentially liable:
- If other vehicle components were affected by the airbags, the vehicle manufacturer could be held accountable.
- Testers or installers could be held accountable if improper testing or installation occurred.
- The distributor could be held responsible if the airbags were damaged during transport or storage, causing them to fail.
- The manufacturer could be sued if the airbags were defective when they were manufactured.
- If a design flaw caused the airbag to fail, the product designer could also be held responsible.
Filing a Defective GM Airbag Lawsuit
For a plaintiff to win a GM airbag lawsuit successfully, the following elements must be proven:
- The airbag was used the way the manufacturer expected or intended for it to be used.
- The airbag defect resulted in the plaintiff’s injuries. Had the airbag not been defective, the injury would not have occurred.
- The plaintiff must be able to prove that the airbag had a design or manufacturing defect that caused their injuries or that the product did not indicate that there were any dangers or risks associated with it.
- The plaintiff must have been injured or suffered monetary loss from using the defective airbag. Without actual injury or damage, there can be no claim.
Defective Airbag Attorneys
You will need an experienced defective airbag lawyer who has tackled similar product liability cases and won, as these types of cases are very complex. You will also need witnesses who can help you prove that your injuries resulted from a defective airbag. The Eichholz Law Firm can help.
For a no-obligation consultation, contact us today. We will be happy to discuss your options with you.
- Chris Isodore. “GM recalling 7 million vehicles for airbag problems after losing fight with safety regulator”, CNN, https://www.cnn.com/2020/11/23/business/gm-takata-airbag-recall/index.html. Accessed December 1, 2020.
- Tom Krisher. “GM to recall 7M vehicles globally to replace Takata air bags”, The Associated Press, https://apnews.com/article/gm-recalls-7m-vehicles-globally-277b41b68a4c92eec5c2578808b5c26a. Accessed December 1, 2020.