Fiat Chrysler reported this week that it plans to recall approximately 300,000 minivans because the driver-side airbags may deploy inadvertently.
This airbag malfunction has been linked to 13 minor injuries, although there have been no accidents. Fiat Chrysler has stated that it wants to get these vehicles repaired as soon as possible to avoid any further injuries.
Fiat Chrysler stated that the airbag problem is related to steering wheel wiring that may chafe against the trim. This can lead to a short circuit that may cause the airbag to deploy. Drivers may see an airbag warning light on the dashboard, or the windshield wipers could come on for no reason. Another potential sign is the cruise control may stop working.
The minivans affected by the recall are the 2011-12 Dodge Grand Caravan. The recall will include 210,000 US minivans and 88,000 in Canada.
The company noted that this airbag issue is not related to the Takata airbag problem that has affected the company for years. Takata, a Japanese auto supplier, is the manufacturer of airbags that have exploded and killed at least a dozen people around the world.
In the United States, the Takata airbag recall has led to 11 deaths. The NHTSA has reported that nine of those deaths were in 2001-2003 Honda and Acura vehicles. In 2015, the NHTSA classified those vehicles as ‘high risk’ and told owners that they should not drive them until repairs were made.
That airbag problem led to the largest recall in American history. That recall prompted the company to recall 46 million Takata airbag inflators in 29 million cars, trucks and SUVs in the US.
Owners of the vehicles in the current minivan airbag recall should bring them into their local Fiat Chrysler dealer. Service technicians will look over the wiring and will replace it if it is needed. All of the affected minivans also will have a protective plate added to prevent any future damage.
Fiat Chrysler stock prices fell 2% to $10.69 on the New York Stock Exchange after the announcement.
Airbags Can Save Lives, But Problems Persist
Airbags were designed to inflate instantly during certain types of accidents. The moment the sensor in the airbag system detects a rapid deceleration or impact, the airbag is intended to inflate in a fraction of a second.
Unfortunately, there have been millions of recalls in recent years for a variety of airbag failures. As noted in the above Fiat Chrysler story, airbag defects can result from chafing of wires. Or, in the case of the Takata recall, the small inflator in the airbag can fracture and spew tiny metal fragments at the driver and passengers. Several people have been killed due to that airbag fault in the Takata recalls; that problem has become so pervasive that Takata has been reported in June 2017 to be filing bankruptcy.
What to Do When You Have an Airbag Problem
Past experience shows that airbags have problems associated with them. Some of the most common types of airbag problems are:
- Late deployment: If the airbag does not deploy on time, the driver and passengers could suffer worse injuries in the crash. Clues that indicate the airbag may have deployed late are a steering wheel that is bent; deformed cover on the air bag module, and contact marks on the dashboard or steering wheel.
- Overpowering deployment: Some old airbags may deploy too powerfully, leading to serious or fatal injuries to the face, head and chest.
- Inadvertent deployment: An airbag can deploy due to a minor impact or for no reason at all; the minivan recall above is such a situation. This type of deployment can lead to injuries that may have never occurred otherwise.
If your airbag does not deploy, you could be seriously hurt in an accident by the impact from the interior of your vehicle, the steering wheel, dashboard, or windows.
If the airbag deploys when it is not intended without cause, you also face a dangerous situation. You will not be able to control your vehicle or see out of the windshield. A serious accident could result.
If you ever are involved in any type of accident where the airbag does not inflate or inflates at the wrong time, there are some simple steps that experts say you should follow:
If you are driving on the road and the airbag deploys without cause, you will have difficulty steering, seeing and braking. It is important to not panic. Just do your best to control the vehicle to the best of your ability and pull over as soon as possible.
If you are hurt by an exploding airbag, you may not be able to keep control of the vehicle, depending upon the injuries involved. Airbags are made to deflate very quickly, and one that has any punctures should deflate in a second or two. If that occurs, you should be able to suitably control the vehicle so that you can get to a safe area.
Get to the side of the road or to a safe place as soon as possible. If it is needed, call the police. If you have not suffered serious injuries due to the airbag problem, try to get the vehicle to a safe place away from traffic. If you cannot move the vehicle from a lane of traffic, you should turn on the emergency lights or blinkers. This is very important at night, as many serious and even fatal accidents occur when vehicles are stopped on the road at night without adequate illumination or safety lights.
There will be important evidence to collect, depending upon what happened with your airbag. If the airbag failed to deploy in an accident, it is important to get pictures of the accident scene, damage to vehicles, the interior of the vehicle and steering wheel that shows the airbag did not inflate, etc.
If the airbag deployed at the wrong time, you also should take pictures of the interior of the vehicle and the exterior to detail any damages.
If you have any injuries, you should be seen by a medical professional immediately. Any obvious injuries should be photographed right away.
Once the car has been towed away, it may be hard to collect evidence of the airbag malfunction, so try to get it as soon as possible.
Talk to an Experienced Airbag Injury Attorney
Airbag failure cases are very complicated and will involve several large corporations and large teams of defense attorneys. It is important for you to be represented by an experienced and effective personal injury attorney who has a strong background in airbag failure cases.
People who have been hurt in an airbag injury case can have very serious injuries that are expensive and can last for months or years. Some of the personal injuries stemming from airbag injuries may even be permanent. Some examples:
- Serious head trauma
- Brain injury
- Spinal cord injuries
- Broken bones
- Facial lacerations
An experienced personal injury attorney can help you to determine if you have a potential case. You may benefit from filing an airbag recall lawsuit in some cases.
- Inadvertent Airbag Deployment Triggers Fiat Chrysler Minivan Recall. (2017, June 15). Retrieved from https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/cars/2017/06/15/fiat-chrysler-air-bag-recall/102876560/
- Minivans Recalled Because Airbags Can Deploy Inadvertently. (2017, June 15). Retrieved from http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2017/06/15/minivans-recalled-airbags-deploy/
- Dodge Minivans Recalled; Airbag Can Inflate Unexpectedly. (2017, June 15). Retrieved from http://www.ktnv.com/news/dodge-minivans-recalled-air-bag-can-inflate-unexpectedly_37461321