Metal fragments released from an exploding airbag fatally injured the driver of an older Volvo spurring a U.S. recall of up to 54,000 cars. According to an Associated Press news report, the inflator was made by auto parts supplier ZF/TRW. But, U.S. government documents show the devices perform similarly to deadly inflators made by Takata. The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) said it is reviewing data with Volvo about other vehicles equipped with the inflators and will decide whether to take further action.
Defective Airbag Inflators
ZF/TRQ is headquartered in the U.S. in suburban Detroit. NHTSA said the inflator rupture that caused the death is the only known incident worldwide. The recall covers Volvo S60 and S80 vehicles from the 2001 through 2003 model years. Volvo said it will replace the driver’s airbag at no cost to consumers.
Japanese airbag manufacturer Takata used ammonium nitrate to create a small explosion to inflate airbags in a crash. But, the chemical can deteriorate over time when exposed to moisture in the air. The explosion can blow apart a metal canister and send shrapnel flying into the passenger compartment. At least 26 people have been killed worldwide by the Takata inflators including 17 here in the United States.
The problem led to the largest series of auto recalls in U.S. history. More than 63 million airbag inflators were recalled. As of September nearly 11 million had not been repaired. NHTSA said ZF/TRW inflators did not use ammonium nitrate to inflate the airbags. Volvo said in documents posted by NHTSA that registration data found about 13,800 of the recalled vehicles still in use.
Auto Product Liability Issues
As we saw with the Takata inflators, these airbag defects can be extremely serious because they send shards of metal flying into the passenger compartment. These metal pieces can cause major injuries such as facial and eye injuries, lacerations, and other wounds, which could prove fatal.
Suppose you or a loved one has been injured by a ZF/TRQ inflator or a Takata airbag inflator. In that case, you may be able to seek compensation for damages such as medical expenses, lost income, hospitalization, cost of rehabilitation, permanent injuries, disabilities, pain and suffering and emotional distress. An experienced product defect lawyer can advise injured victims and their families regarding their legal rights and options.