The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) is conducting an urgent investigation into Takata airbags following the death of a driver in Sydney.
The faulty airbags have been at the centre of a scandal since news came to light that the products deteriorate quickly, resulting in metal shards sometimes spraying around a vehicle when they deploy.
Early reports suggest the man died after one of these fragments hit him in the neck after a collision. While this is the first confirmed death in Australia due to Takata airbags if the link is confirmed, a woman was seriously injured in the Northern Territory earlier this year in similar circumstances.
The Japanese manufacturer has launched a worldwide recall of the faulty auto parts, but it is not yet clear whether the airbag in the car of the man who died had already been replaced.
Takata shares take a tumble
According to Reuters, Takata’s shares plummeted by one-fifth on Monday after the death was announced. The airbags are linked to 18 deaths globally, and the manufacturer could face a number product liability claims as a result.
The ACCC said 2.3 million Australian vehicles have been subject to the recall since 2009, with 60 models of car affected.
“Do not ignore or delay responding to a letter from your car’s manufacturer or retailer asking you to have your car’s airbag replaced,” ACCC Chairman Rod Sims stated.
“The airbags degrade over time and can become lethal by misdeploying and firing metal shards at the car’s occupants.”
The consumer watchdog admitted that progress on replacing Takata airbags was slow at first due to a lack of available parts and qualified technicians to fit new products.
However, 850,000 vehicles have now been upgraded, and car manufacturers have claimed there are enough parts in stock to tackle the problem nationwide.
Mr Sims noted that the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development (DIRD) is monitoring the recall due to its responsibility over vehicle safety in the country.
Watchdog on the prowl for more information
The ACCC has requested further details from the DIRD regarding the information currently available to consumers.
“We would have very serious concerns if manufacturers were found to be misleading consumers about their car’s safety in breach of their obligations under consumer law,” he added.
“If consumers have already had their airbag replaced, they should contact their manufacturer for advice as to what kind of airbag it was replaced with and how long it is expected to last.”
In NSW, people who are injured because of a faulty product might be eligible for compensation, which is why you should contact an expert product liability lawyer as soon as possible following an accident.
Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers has worked on product liability claims for over 35 years, so please get in touch today for more information.