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Auto product recall numbers on record pace first half of 2014

In what is being reported as a record year for the number of auto industry recalls, the trend continues with an announcement from Toyota that includes three different defects affecting more than 400,000 vehicles. Some of the alleged defects related to air bags and brake systems raise the potential for product liability claims in Texas as well as across the country.

One of the three recalls, but probably the least serious from a dangerous product liability perspective, concerns minivans sold in states with colder climates. A metal cable supporting the spare tire under the vehicle can corrode, causing the tire to fall off. While losing a spare tire may seem like an inconvenience, if it falls off in the path of another vehicle it could cause a serious accident or even death.

A more serious recall involves vehicles equipped with “smart” airbags that are designed to detect the size and weight of the person in the seat, and to automatically adjust their inflation. The airbag software may not give the airbag the right signal in the event the airbag deploys, which could seriously injure a smaller person if it activates in a way designed to protect someone who is considerably heavier or larger.

Finally, perhaps the most serious potential defect concerns a problem that can cause some cars to not only decelerate unexpectedly, but to do so without activating the rear brake lights. The risk of a possibly deadly rear-end collision taking place if that defect manifests itself makes this vehicle recall easily understandable.

Toyota claims that it has no knowledge of any accidents or injuries that have arisen from these defective auto parts and software, but that does not mean that no accidents have happened or that an accident will not happen before a person can get his or her vehicle in for service. If you are a Toyota vehicle owner, and you believe that you have suffered a loss or injury as a result of one of these defects, it may be advisable to contact an attorney to determine whether the manufacturer is liable for compensation.

Source: NBC News, “Toyota recalls 430,500 vehicles for three issues,” Paul A. Eisenstein, May 22, 2014

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