Toyota Recalls Cars Sold or Registered in Florida for Dangerous Airbag Defect

A dangerous airbag defect has prompted the recall of 7.8 million cars in the United States. Recently, nearly 250,000 Toyotas were added to the mix. On October 20, 2014, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced the recall by Toyota Motor Engineering & Manufacturing (Toyota) of 247,000 vehicles for an airbag defect that can cause serious injury or death to vehicle drivers and passengers when one of the defective airbags is deployed. According to some experts, the problem appears to occur most often in hot, humid regions such as Florida.

The recalled vehicles include certain model year 2002 to 2005 Lexus SC and Toyota Sequoia and certain model year 2003 to 2005 Toyota Tundra, Corolla, Corolla Matrix, and Pontiac Vibe vehicles that were originally sold or are currently registered in Florida, along the Gulf Coast, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, Saipan, and American Samoa. The front passenger airbags in these vehicles (which were manufactured by Takata) may explode with too much force when they inflate, causing the airbags’ containers to rupture and project metal and plastic fragments, or shrapnel, into the vehicles’ occupants. This defect can cause serious injury or death to any occupant of an affected vehicle and has already been linked to at least four deaths. Toyota and General Motors (GM) will notify owners of affected vehicles and dealers will replace the airbags free of charge.

What can you do if you own one of these vehicles? Because so many vehicles have been recalled for this particular defect, replacement parts are not yet available for all vehicle owners. Toyota has urged consumers to disable their front passenger-side airbags and to prevent passengers from riding in the front seats until the airbags can be replaced. Dealers will disable airbags free of charge while replacement parts are still unavailable.

Who can be held legally responsible if you are injured or one of your family members is killed as a result of this or another vehicle defect? Can you be compensated for your injuries or loved one’s death if you or your family member were passengers in someone else’s vehicle when an airbag rupture or other accident occurred? The answers to these questions may depend on the circumstances of your particular case as well as the product-liability law of the state in which an action is filed. The Killino Firm’s Miami accident, wrongful-death, and defective-products lawyers have extensive experience with all types of accident and injury cases, including those arising out of injuries and deaths caused by defective motor vehicles or motor-vehicle safety equipment. Contact our highly regarded team of personal-injury attorneys for additional information about your legal rights and options.

Legal Responsibility for Injuries and Deaths Caused by Defective Motor Vehicles and Motor-vehicle Safety Equipment

toyota airbag recallThe recovery of damages for injuries and deaths caused by defective cars or motor-vehicle safety equipment is generally achieved through product-liability actions brought against manufacturers and others involved in the production and distribution of defective vehicles or safety equipment. Actionable defects include defects that occur in the design or manufacturing stage or as a result of the failure to warn of certain dangers associated with a product’s use. Defendants that may be held strictly liable (i.e., without proof of negligence or other fault) for such injuries and deaths include the designers and manufacturers of vehicles, vehicle components, and vehicle safety systems, the assemblers and suppliers of any part of a vehicle, wholesalers, and in some states, the retailers of defective motor vehicles.

Thus, Takata (the manufacturer of the defective airbags that led to the recalls discussed above), Toyota (and other car manufacturers), the designers, assemblers, and suppliers of any parts of vehicles containing these defective airbags, and in some states, the sellers of the vehicles containing the defective airbags may all be held strictly liable for injuries and deaths caused by one of these airbags. The recovery of damages for such injuries and deaths is not limited to the owners of affected vehicles. Product-liability law provides for the recovery of damages for injuries and deaths caused not only to vehicle owners but to vehicle passengers, as well.

Under the Restatement (Second) of Torts, Section 402A, which is the basis for most states’ product-liability laws, a user or consumer of a defective product may recover damages from product-liability defendants for injuries and deaths caused by product defects. According to Restatement section 402A, comment l, a product’s “user” includes an automobile passenger who does not own the automobile but is merely “enjoying the benefit of the product.” Users also include persons who are making repairs on an automobile, so that a mechanic who is injured by a defective airbag while conducting repairs on a vehicle may also recover damages in a strict-liability action against the same class of defendants referenced above. “Consumers” include all ultimate users for which a product is intended, so that someone who is driving a car owned by another when a defective airbag ruptures may also recover damages for injuries caused by the airbag defect. According to comment l, consumers not only include persons who “consume” a product, but also those who prepare a product for consumption. The example provided is one of a person who cooks food infected with deadly bacteria for another to eat but contracts an illness while cooking the food.

Obtain Expert Assistance from The Killino Firm, P.C.

The Killino Firm’s Miami accident and defective-products lawyers have achieved national recognition for their expertise with all types of vehicle-accident cases, including those arising out of injuries and deaths caused by defective vehicles and vehicle safety equipment. Contact The Killino Firm’s Miami personal-injury and wrongful-death lawyer for experienced and aggressive assistance with your vehicle-accident case.