Have You Been Injured By Faulty Airbag Inflators?

The Law Offices of Niemeyer, Grebel and Kruse are currently evaluating claims for injuries from catastrophic failures of ARC Automotive airbag inflators. These airbags have been reported to explode in collisions, spewing shrapnel and seriously injuring or even killing vehicle occupants.

ARC airbags have been installed in an estimated 33 million vehicles currently on the road, spanning 15 different manufacturers and model years from 2002 to 2018.

If you or someone you love was injured by a defective ARC airbag inflator, you may be entitled to financial compensation. Call Niemeyer, Grebel and Kruse today to review your case for free and find out more about your options – 314-241-1919.

How do I know if I had a defective ARC airbag inflator?

In May 2023, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration demanded that ARC Automotive recall an estimated 67 million airbag inflators that they believed to be defective.

In its recall demand, the NHTSA shared a list of manufacturers who have had ARC airbag inflators installed:

  • Audi
  • BMW
  • Buick
  • Chevrolet
  • Ford
  • GMC
  • Hyundai
  • Kia
  • Porsche
  • Stellantis
  • Toyota
  • Volkswagen

According to the NHTSA, ARC’s defective inflators date from at least the 2002 model year to January 2018, when ARC Automotive began installing sensors on its manufacturing lines that could identify defective parts.

Unfortunately, there’s no easy way for vehicle owners to tell whether their specific inflators are made by ARC.

To date, neither the NHTSA, nor ARC, nor any of the manufacturers have released a comprehensive list of makes, models and years affected. It’s our understanding that they are still gathering this data and will release it soon. Once that list is available, we will post it here.

If you were injured by your airbag in a car crash, an experienced personal injury attorney can help you investigate the circumstances around your injury and identify if it was caused by defective airbags.

What is wrong with ARC Automotive’s defective inflators?

Before we get into ARC inflators, let’s review how airbag inflators are supposed to work.

When a crash happens, airbag inflators rapidly fill the airbag with gas, allowing the airbag to deploy and inflate within milliseconds. The inflator mechanism generally works as follows:

  1. Sensing Impact: When a car undergoes a sudden impact or deceleration that meets or exceeds certain thresholds, an electronic sensor (the “airbag control unit”) triggers the airbag system.
  2. Igniting the Propellant: The airbag control unit sends a signal to the inflator unit, causing it to ignite a solid propellant.
  3. Producing Gas: The burning of this propellant produces a large amount of gas, which inflates the airbag.
  4. Inflating the Airbag: The gas fills the airbag, causing it to expand rapidly. The airbag breaks through the cover on the steering wheel or dashboard, and inflates to provide a cushion.
  5. Deflation: After the initial impact, the gas escapes through small holes in the airbag, allowing it to deflate slowly so the occupant is not bounced back by the force of the airbag.

The NHTSA recall demand alleges that ARC Automotive inflators explode during the ignition stage. Rather than safely releasing gas into the airbag, the casing of the inflator shears and launches metal fragments throughout the vehicle cabin.

This has resulted in severe injuries and deaths in at least two cases, according to the NHTSA.

General Motors issues recall on several models

In response to the NHTSA’s report in May 2023, the automotive manufacturer General Motors issued a recall of nearly one million vehicles.

The recall affects certain Buick Enclave, GMC Acadia and Chevrolet Traverse vehicles from the 2014 to 2017 model years. The manufacturer is set to notify affected owners throughout the month of June 2023. Vehicle owners will be able to have their airbags replaced for free.

ARC Automotive responds to the NHTSA

ARC Automotive has responded to the NHTSA’s recall demand by refusing to issue a recall. In a letter to the regular, ARC Automotive argued that no consistent safety defect exists and that the NHTSA’s no authority to order a parts manufacturer to carry out recalls.

How do I file an ARC airbag lawsuit?

Filing a lawsuit over defective ARC Automotive airbag inflators, or any defective product, generally follows a specific process. However, it is strongly recommended to consult with an attorney who specializes in product liability law before proceeding. They can provide advice tailored to your situation and jurisdiction. 

Here is a general outline of the process:

  1. Consultation: The first step is usually to consult with a product liability attorney to discuss the details of your situation. In your consultation, you should provide all relevant facts and any documentation you have relating to your injury and the product involved. This might include medical records, accident reports, and any recall notices you’ve received.
  2. Investigation: If the attorney believes you have a viable case, they will conduct a more thorough investigation. This could involve collecting more documentation, speaking with witnesses, and potentially consulting with experts in automotive safety and airbag technology.
  3. Filing a Lawsuit: If the investigation supports your claim, the attorney will draft and file a lawsuit on your behalf. This will involve serving the manufacturer, in this case ARC Automotive, with a copy of the complaint.

The situation is still rapidly evolving, but the NHTSA’s recent recall demand might provide a strong legal footing for a lawsuit. NHTSA recall demands serve as official recognition that a product is defective or unsafe, which can be powerful evidence in a product liability case. An attorney can explain how to use this recall in your favor.

Finally, in many situations, victims of defective products may band together to file a class action lawsuit. This type of lawsuit can be more efficient and cost-effective than individual lawsuits, and may result in a larger settlement. However, whether a class action is appropriate will depend on the specific circumstances, and it’s unclear how the situation will develop with ARC airbag lawsuits.

Speak with skilled product liability attorneys today

Regarded as experts in the area of product liability, the team at Niemeyer, Grebel and Kruse includes two of the 2022 list of Best Lawyers as well as a Top 50 and Top 100 lawyer in the area of plaintiff’s personal injury by Super Lawyers Magazine.

Simply put, we get results.

Contact us today at 314-241-1919 for a free, no-obligation review of your case if you believe that you or someone you love was injured by a defective ARC airbag inflator.

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