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Delphi Airbag Lawsuit Update: Get the Right Lawyer

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is requesting that Delphi and ARC Automotive recall approximately 52 million airbag inflators that can rupture and “pose an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death.”
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Delphi, ARC Face NHTSA Recall Effort on 52 Million Defective Airbag Inflators

The NHTSA announced on September 5, 2023, that it will host a public meeting regarding whether to force Delphi and ARC Automotive to recall certain frontal and passenger airbag inflators. The inflators at issue were manufactured from 2000 to 2018, and have been installed in vehicles manufactured by the following automakers:

Why are Delphi Airbags Exploding?

According to the NHTSA, the Delphi Airbag ruptures are caused by a weld slag created in the friction-welding manufacturing process. Once a sizable weld slag gets stuck, it can block the inflator exit when an airbag deploys.

“A blockage of sufficient size will cause an over pressurization and rupture of the inflator, leading to the potential forced propulsion of shrapnel or metal fragments from the inflator into the passenger compartment,” NHTSA said. “Additional inflator ruptures are expected to occur in the future, risking more serious injuries and deaths, if they are not recalled and replaced.”

How Many Injuries Have Been Caused by Defective Delphi Airbags?

NHTSA has confirmed that there have been at least 7 people in the United States who were severely injured from ARC/Delphi airbag inflator ruptures. A driver in Canada was killed in July 2016 when an airbag inflator in a 2009 Hyundai Elantra ruptured.

The most recent airbag inflator rupture reported occurred in Michigan on March 22, 2023, injuring the driver of a 2017 Chevrolet Traverse. The incident prompted the NHTSA to notify ARC and Delphi that it had decided that the inflators were defectively designed, and therefore posed a risk to drivers and passengers.

Has Delphi Issued a Recall for the Airbag Inflators?

No. In fact, the NHTSA first demanded that ARC and Delphi recall the airbag inflators in May 2023; however, the companies refused to issue the recall, stating that no defect existed in the inflators and that any problems were related to isolated manufacturing issues.

The companies have also been accused of “inappropriately” downplaying the severity of the risks from rupturing airbag inflators by describing the occurrences as a routine aspect of the manufacturing process and characterizing them as “isolated” events.

“An inflator that explosively ruptures, propelling metal fragments at a high velocity into an occupied passenger compartment of a motor vehicle — and into occupants themselves — cannot simply be dismissed as a normal manufacturing anomaly, with vehicle owners left uninformed yet bearing the risk of the peril they and their occupants face,” NHTSA said.

How Long Has Delphi Been Manufacturing Airbag Inflators?

ARC has been making driver hybrid toroidal inflators since 2000. In July 2001, the company granted Delphi a license to make the inflators in its airbag modules. After manufacturing approximately 11 million inflators under the licensing agreement, Delphi stopped making airbag inflators in 2004.

The NHTSA began investigating the airbag inflators in July 2015 after receiving 2 reports of injuries caused by ruptured airbag inflators. The agency renewed the investigation after the death in Canada that was linked to a defective airbag rupture. With the upgraded investigation, NHTSA issued a standing general order to ARC and Delphi, requiring the companies to report to the NHTSA within 5 days of being notified of an inflator rupture.

What’s Next?

A public meeting regarding the NHTSA’s initial decision and recall recommendation is set for October 5, 2023, at the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) headquarters in Washington, D.C.

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If you or a loved one was injured by an exploding Delphi airbag, you should contact our law firm immediately. You may be entitled to a settlement by filing a suit and we can help.

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