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Traffic safety authority warns of air bag explosion risk

On Behalf of | Jul 18, 2023 | Product Liability

Years after a recall sought to address Takata’s faulty air bag inflators, new reports have found that the deadly defect affects not just driver-side air bags, but passenger-side air bags as well.

Automaker Stellantis and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have warned drivers of 2003 Dodge Ram pickup trucks to stop driving the vehicles. The warning comes after news that a passenger in a 2003 Dodge Ram died after an exploding Takata air bag inflator shot shrapnel into them.

Stellantis said the passenger died in a May 13 crash, adding that the person succumbed to a grievous injury consistent with previous air bag ruptures.

Officials have advised pickup owners to contact their dealer to find out if their vehicle was part of the 2015 Takata recall. Stellantis is also offering free transportation to help owners bring their vehicles to the closest dealership for air bag replacement.

The NHTSA noted that the death is the 26th in the U.S. since 2009, but the first to involve an exploding front passenger air bag inflator. Takata’s defective air bag inflators have killed and injured about 400 people worldwide.

What if an air bag explodes on you?

The issue with Takata’s air bag inflators was that they were filled with ammonium nitrate. Used to rapidly inflate the air bag during crashes, the gas becomes more volatile over time and repeated exposure to high temperatures and humidity. Under the right conditions, the gas can violently explode the metal canister, sending shrapnel flying into drivers and passengers’ faces.

Many fatalities and injuries associated with the exploding air bag inflators involved metal shards flying into faces and necks. However, some reports have also noted that the shrapnel can hit passengers’ chests. At best, the shards will cause cuts across your face. At worst, the shrapnel slices into an artery in your neck, which can be fatal.

You may be able to sue an auto manufacturer if you’ve suffered injuries from an exploding air bag inflator. Consider consulting with a legal professional because product liability lawsuits against major corporations can take a lot of time and money.