A recent fatal car accident involving a defective, recalled Takata airbag in a used car that was never fixed has exposed a loophole in the oversight of recalled vehicles in the United States. In response, lawmakers believe more needs to be done by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and others to make sure such recalled vehicles are fixed as soon as possible.
"Takata has lied to cover up problems with its airbags and NHTSA has aided this malfeasance with an inept and illogical recall process. NHTSA's recall rate is abysmal and it is in part responsible for this most recent death," said U.S. Senators Edward J. Markey of Massachusetts and Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut in a statement issued this year.
Markey and Blumenthal made their statement in response to the death of a 17-year-old woman killed by shrapnel from a Takata airbag that exploded in a low-speed car crash in April 2016, according to an article published by The Washington Post.
Recent fatal car accident involved exploding Takata airbag
More recently, a 50-year-old woman was killed in September 2016 when her Takata airbag exploded in a collision involving another vehicle, according to an article published by The New York Times. Delia Robles was driving a used car that had been resold three times before her son bought the car from an acquaintance. Ms. Robles' son Jose Contreras had no idea the vehicle had a defective airbag and never received any notification about the Takata airbag recall.
Oversight of the sale of used cars varies from state to state and many states do not have laws requiring auto manufacturers to notify the buyers of used cars about potentially-dangerous defects in such vehicles.
The state of Massachusetts does not have any laws in place that require owners of used vehicles to receive notifications about recalls involving those vehicles. This can be especially problematic if someone buys a used car directly from another person. As The New York Times story points out, automakers often do not notify second-hand car owners about manufacturer recalls.
Safety officials urge more action to fix defective Takata airbags
But just because a car has been resold, that's no excuse for failing to notify the current vehicle owner about such defects and active recalls, especially in the case of the Takata airbag recall, according to Mark Rosekind, head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. "There's a whole series of things that we want to see," Rosekind said in a November 2016 interview with The Associated Press. "It's just not happening fast enough for anybody."
A total of 70 million Takata airbags have been recalled in the United States due to safety concerns as of November 2016, according to Consumer Affairs. Like other vehicle recalls, car owners can have their Takata airbags fixed or replaced for free. Even so, more still needs to be done to notify all vehicle owners about the potential danger of such exploding airbags, Rosekind said in the same Consumer Affairs article.
Car accidents involving defective vehicles often cause serious injuries or fatalities. In the case of exploding Takata airbags, 15 deaths have so far been linked to such mechanical defects, according to The New York Times. Exact statistics concerning the number of injuries caused by exploding Takata airbags were not available.
If you or a loved one has been injured in car accident in Massachusetts involving a Takata airbag or another mechanical defect, contact the Law Offices of Mark E. Salomone for your free case evaluation. Our experienced, Massachusetts car accident lawyers have extensive experience handling such complex legal cases.
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