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Lawsuit against rental company filed for ignoring airbag defect

Posted in Products Liability on Friday, July 3, 2015.

One of the largest automotive recalls in history has just claimed another victim. A 26-year-old woman tragically lost her life when she became involved in an automotive accident. Her car collided with another car which caused her to suffer a wound to her neck, which led to her bleeding out until she passed away.

What’s particularly distressing about this situation is the fact that her death was entirely preventable. The laceration on the victim’s neck was inflicted by metal shrapnel that was dislodged and thrust toward the driver at a high velocity when the car’s airbag deployed upon impact with the other vehicle. She is officially the eighth casualty of malfunctioning airbags manufactured by the Takata Corp. that have been installed in millions of cars manufactured by a number of automotive manufacturers.

The reason that her death was entirely preventable was that the car that she was driving was not hers. It was a rental, and perhaps, had the rental agency disclosed to her that the car was recalled by the manufacturer in 2009 but that the recall was never addressed, she likely would not have driven it.

The victim’s family has filed a product liability lawsuit against the rental company that rented her the car alleging that they should be held responsible for her death. The family alleges that, though the rental company was notified at least four times by the manufacturer, that the driver side airbag needed to be exchanged, the rental company never sent the vehicle to be serviced yet continued to rent it placing their customer’s lives at risk.

The company was also notified by the car manufacturer at least once in 2013 that, in addition to the driver side airbag being defective, the passenger side airbag was also defective and needed to be replaced. All notices were ignored and neither airbag was replaced.

Source: Consumer Affairs, “Eight Takata airbag death involves a rental car,” James Hood, June 22, 2015