3.4 million car recall may affect Massachusetts consumers

Automobiles are a mainstay of our culture, and may be considered a necessity by many. Every day Massachusetts residents drive their cars to work, school, shopping and to visit loved ones. No innocent driver expects to become the victim of a defective product. Yet defective automobiles have the potential to cause serious damage and injuries to people nationwide.

Four major automakers have issued massive recalls affecting nearly 3.4 million vehicles sold worldwide. The vehicles were sold with an allegedly defective airbag system. When the passenger side airbags deploy, they do so with enough power to cause fires or injure passengers with flying debris. The vehicles affected were made by Toyota, Mazda, Nissan and Honda. All the airbags came from a single supplier. Although the vehicles are being recalled world wide, specifically, 561,000 Hondas sold in the United States and 170,000 Toyotas sold in the United States are subject to the recall. Nissans and Mazdas sold in the United States may also be affected, although it is not yet known how many vehicles will be recalled.

When a victim is injured due to a defective vehicle, in order to hold the manufacturer and seller of the vehicle liable, the victim may bring a lawsuit under the doctrine of strict liability. Through this doctrine, if the victim may be awarded damages if they can prove they were injured because the vehicle or one of its parts were unreasonably dangerous. In addition, the victim must show that they were injured even though they were using the vehicle in its intended manner and had not altered the vehicle in any substantial way. It is becoming increasingly common for punitive damages to be awarded in strict liability lawsuits, as a means to hold the makers and sellers of defective vehicles accountable and to encourage these entities to fix these defects in the future.

Defective products, such as automobiles, can injure thousands of unsuspecting consumers. Those injured by defective products may wish to consult with a personal injury attorney, to see what compensation, if any, they may be entitled to.

Source: Christian Science Monitor “Toyota, Honda, Nissan recall 3.4 million vehicles for faulty airbags,” Schuyler Velasco, April 11, 2013