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Potentially dangerous airbags still being installed by car makers

Pennsylvania residents may be aware that millions of cars, light trucks and SUVs have been recalled in recent months because airbags made by Takata have been known to shower vehicle occupants with metal shards after deploying, but they may be surprised to learn that at least four auto makers are still using the potentially dangerous airbags. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has linked at least 10 deaths and about 100 injuries to Takata airbags, but a report issued on June 2 by the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation revealed that Volkswagen, Chrysler Fiat, Mitsubishi and Toyota continue to install them in some of their vehicles.

NHTSA rules allow car makers to continue using Takata airbags, but all vehicles equipped with them must be recalled by Dec. 31, 2018. The committee's ranking senator says that the public deserves to know when the products they buy contain possibly dangerous components and are subject to recalls. Current regulations do not compel auto manufacturers to make any such disclosures.

The Takata airbags concerned use ammonium-nitrate inflators, and these deployment systems can degrade over time. They are particularly vulnerable in hot and humid climates. Some auto industry experts believe that findings contained in the congressional report may not be as incendiary as they appear. They point out that the injuries linked to Takata airbags were generally suffered in vehicles that were several years old, and any new cars that still feature the airbags will likely be recalled before posing a serious threat to their occupants.

Attorneys with product liability litigation experience may in some cases file lawsuits on behalf of consumers who have been harmed due to a defective product. Defendants in these lawsuits can include not only the manufacturers but other parties that are in the chain of distribution.

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