Most consumers have the perhaps false impression that vehicles are tested and safe by the time they are made available for sale, but that’s just not always the case. A common journey our vehicles go in is that they leave the assembly line, get placed on a boat (if manufactured overseas) for transportation to the U.S., and then once on land, they get placed on a rail car or truck and are transported to a dealership for purchase by consumers. These vehicles seldom undergo any third-party quality control checks or safety inspections within this process, which means there’s a strong potential for an unsafe automobile to end up on the road.
What’s equally bad is that few, if any, automakers build their own vehicles using their self-manufactured auto parts from top to bottom. This means that car companies don’t enjoy the oversight they may prefer to have over a vehicle’s many different components, which may affect any in-house quality control measures in place, leading to cars that aren’t roadworthy being released on the market. This exact issue appears to be to blame for a recall that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is demanding of air bags produced by the Knoxville, Tennessee-based auto manufacturer ARC Automotive, Inc.
Right now, government regulators are unsure as to the exact makes and models of vehicles equipped with dangerous ARC air bag inflators. The NHTSA is actively working with auto manufacturers to identify which of their vehicles may have been equipped with this dangerous auto component. If you’ve been hurt or lost a loved one to an accident that may have been attributable to an air bag issue, call or send us an email now to get in contact with an ARC air bag inflator lawyer at our law firm to learn what your legal options may be.
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What To Know About the Air Bag Recall the Federal Government Has Requested
The NHTSA allows consumers to report car safety complaints to them. The federal agency compiles that data, and when trends arise, it may suggest that auto manufacturers issue recalls. That was the case with ARC inflators, which it believes may be responsible for causing at least seven injuries and two deaths in the U.S. and Canada since 2009.
What Is Defective About the ARC Air Bag Inflator?
Issues that preceded the recall request made by the NHTSA in April include incidents in which the ARC air bag inflators apparently forcefully exploded, sending metal shrapnel all over the place inside vehicles. The initial report of this happening occurred in 2009, and similar reports have continued to be made in the years since (even as recent as 2023).
In one 2021 case reported to the NHTSA, a 40-year-old mom died when the air bag inflator’s metal assembly came loose and fatally struck her when she became involved in a minor collision in her 2015 Chevrolet Traverse sports utility vehicle (SUV) as she traveled to an ice cream shop with her four sons. Other reports that have prompted this NHTSA recall request have also centered around what has been described as either blowouts or explosions that have sent metal flying.
The NHTSA believes that issues that have caused the blowouts or explosions to occur likely have something to do with its vent becoming clogged by welding debris during the manufacturing process. The federal agency believes it’s likely that the gasses that are released when an air bag is activated that cause it to inflate aren’t accumulating as quickly. They think that’s causing a pressure buildup that is, in turn, causing the canister unit of the inflator to blow apart.
Is This the First Recall the Air Bag Company Faced?
This latest recall ARC Automotive, Inc. is facing isn’t the first. At least seven recalls of their auto products were issued from 2017 to 2022. The most recent one involved a recall of nearly one million General Motors vehicles.
How Many Vehicles May Have This Defective Air Bag Inflator?
The potentially defective air bag inflator is believed to be installed on as many as 67 million vehicles in the U.S. and Canada. At least 33 million of them are installed on cars in the U.S.
It’s not believed that any of the affected air bags have been manufactured in the past few months since the NHTSA requested the recall.
Which Vehicles’ Air Bags Feature the Defective Part?
There isn’t a single make and model of vehicle that has the defective inflator, but instead, there are at least one dozen potential automakers’ cars affected by this recall, including:
Currently, there has been no comprehensive public listing of affected makes and models, which likely has to do, in part with the fact that these inflators were components in other manufacturers’ air bags. It’s challenging to track down which vehicles they’ve been installed in. For now, the NHTSA is waiting on auto manufacturers to comb through their own records to see which of their vehicles’ air bags may have been made with ARC inflators.
Why Is the Air Bag Recall Still Pending?
Aside from demanding a recall of its inflators, the NHTSA has also requested that ARC Automotive, Inc. sit down with them to provide sworn responses to questions about whether:
- Motorists can expect the metal containers that form part of its inflators feature to come apart in the future when deployment of air bags occurs
- ARC Automotive, Inc. adequately notified its customers of potential explosion dangers its air bags posed
The NHTSA is now threatening to impose over $131 million in fines and potentially file criminal charges if the manufacturer doesn’t comply with questioning and issue the recall by June 13, 2023.
Why Is ARC Automotive Refusing To Issue a Recall of Its Air Bag Inflators?
Thus far, ARC has refused to participate in government questioning because it contends there are no safety concerns involving its equipment. It argues that any federal government assertions its inflators are defective are all hypothetical in nature instead of based on actual technical analysis, and thus, the federal agency is not entitled to demand a recall in this situation.
The ARC also contends that little to no commonalities have been identified that would shed light on the root cause of the inflator ruptures that resulted in motorists’ injuries or deaths.
What’s Next for ARC Automotive If They Don’t Submit to Questioning or Issue the Recall?
Should ARC not acquiesce and answer questions or issue the recall as NHTSA is requesting by the imposed deadline in mid-June, the next steps in the matter would be as follows:
- The NHTSA must confirm by showing some proof that the ARC inflators are indeed defective and may place motorists in harm
- There must be a lawsuit, a public hearing in the matter, and a request made for a judge to force the recall
Seeking Help from an ARC Air Bag Inflator Lawyer If You’ve Been Hurt
Accounts of individuals being harmed when air bags unexpectedly deployed aren’t anything new. There have been countless lawsuits filed by individuals who’ve unnecessarily suffered serious injuries or lost their lives after the air bags on their vehicles prematurely deployed or malfunctioned.
Those individuals who have lost been hurt by defective air bags have been left with a wide variety of injuries, some of which include:
- Broken bones
- Internal organ damage
Families who’ve lost their loved ones senselessly to air bag defects have been forced to pick up the pieces and move on.
At Thomas Law Offices, we regularly handle product liability cases like these where a design, manufacturing, or distribution oversight resulted in catastrophic consequences like injury or death. We understand that you’re simply trying to adjust to your new normal that this unexpected, preventable incident has brought your way, but we urge you not to let those parties responsible for what happened to you or your loved one get by without facing the consequences for their misdeeds.
Any compensation an ARC air bag inflator attorney helps you recover in your case can be used to help you recover from the financial burden your injury incident or loss has caused, whether that’s medical bills, lost earnings, funeral or burial expenses, or something else.
Our ARC air bag inflator lawyers are ready and willing to speak with you regarding your injury incident when you’re ready. Just keep in mind not to delay too long in scheduling a free initial consultation with an attorney in our office, as a statute of limitations applies to cases such as this.