With exploding airbag recalls continuing, take these steps to protect you and your family

January 9, 2019 | 9:15 am


More than five years after federal authorities first called for a national safety recall of the Takata airbags, officials are once again issuing a recall of millions of defective airbags, this time by Ford Motor Co. and Toyota.

Ford recently issued a recall of more than 900,000 vehicles in North America, including 782,000 in the United States, and Toyota is recalling 1.7 million vehicles in North America. In all, roughly 37 million vehicles equipped with 50 million defective Takata air bags are under recall because these air bags can explode when deployed, causing serious injury or even death. At least 23 people worldwide have been killed in incidents involving Takata airbags, according to news reports. It is one of the largest recalls in history involving multiple carmakers —  and was first administered in 2013.

Takata airbags were intended to prevent or reduce injury upon impact. They use the chemical ammonium nitrate to create an explosion that causes inflation, but heat and humidity damage the integrity of the system and cause it to deteriorate and explode with too much force, blowing apart a metal canister designed to contain the explosion.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles urges vehicle owners to take some critical steps to protect themselves and others from this very serious threat to safety.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, consumers should be aware of three critically important details about this recall:

1) Certain 2001-2003 Honda and Acura vehicles, 2006 Ford Ranger, and Mazda B-Series trucks are at a far higher risk for an air bag explosion that could injure or kill vehicle occupants. These are referred to as “alpha” air bags. These vehicles can and should be repaired immediately. Do not drive these vehicles with Takata air bags unless you are going straight to a dealer to have them repaired immediately.

2) The data collected and examined by federal officials shows that long-term exposure to combined high heat and humidity creates the risk that a Takata air bag will explode. Drivers in “Zone A” (hot and humid) areas are encouraged to take extra precautions. Zone A includes Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands (Saipan), and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

3) Additional air bags are scheduled to be recalled by December 2019, bringing the total number of affected air bags to around 65 to 70 million. These vehicles do not currently appear affected by this recall using a VIN search. Sign up for Recall Alerts and make sure the address on your registration is current to be sure you’re notified of this or any other future recall.

So, what should you do to protect yourself?

  • Check for recalls using your vehicle identification number (VIN). The recalls involve several air bag types, not just one single type, all made by a company named Takata.
  • Get fixed. Call your local dealer. Because so many cars and trucks need to be fixed, a nationwide repair schedule has been developed to get the most dangerous air bags replaced first. All will be repaired for free.
  • Sign Up for “Recall Alerts” about any future recall affecting your vehicle.

For more information on the airbag recalls, and a comprehensive “frequently asked questions” section, click here. For a continuously updated list of other safety recalls, visit the Chain | Cohn | Stiles “Safety Recalls” page by clicking here.

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If you or someone you know is injured in an accident due to a faulty product, please contact the Products Liability attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles by calling (661) 323-4000, or fill out a free consultation form, or chat with us, online at chainlaw.com.

New Year, new laws in California for safer streets

December 28, 2016 | 11:51 am


In California, the New Year also means new laws.

And for 2017, several new transportation-related laws, and changes to existing laws, are taking effect starting Jan. 1. Many of them are aimed to keep drivers safer on our streets, including addressing the use cell phones in cars, child safety seats, and motorcycle lane splitting.

The accident and injury law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles wanted to share some of these changes ahead of the New Year. Learn a little more about them below here, courtesy of the California Department of Motor Vehicles:

Use of Electronic Wireless Devices (AB 1785): Driving a motor vehicle while holding and operating a cellphone will be prohibited, unless the device is mounted on a vehicle’s windshield or is affixed to a vehicle’s dashboard or center console where it does not block the driver’s view of the road. According to the Sacramento Bee, “the law is designed to stop people from holding their phones for a variety of uses that have become popular in recent years, including checking and posting on Facebook, using Snapchat, scrolling through Spotify or Pandora playlists, typing addresses into the phone’s mapping system, or making videos and taking photos.”

A recent California Office of Traffic Safety study found that one out of eight drivers pays as much attention to his or her smartphone as on the road. Distracted driving accounts for some 80 percent of crashes.

Child Safety Seats (AB 53): This law requires a parent, legal guardian, or the driver of a motor vehicle to properly secure a child who is younger than 2 years of age in an appropriate rear-facing child passenger restraint system, unless the child weighs 40 or more pounds or is 40 or more inches in height.

Motorcycle Lane Splitting (AB 51): This law defines “lane splitting” as driving a two-wheeled motorcycle between rows of stopped or moving vehicles in the same lane. The law authorizes the California Highway Patrol to develop educational guidelines on lane splitting to help ensure the safety of all motorists. CHP would have to consult with safety agencies and organizations to craft the guidelines for motorcycle lane splitting.

DUI ‘Ignition’ Interlock Devices (SB 1046): This bill extends a pilot program that requires most convicted DUI drivers to install ignition interlock devices, which prevent them from operating a motor vehicle while under the influence. Under the law, the DUI offender is able to obtain a restricted driver’s license, have their license reissued, or get their motor vehicle privileges reinstated on the condition that they install a device in their vehicle for a prescribed amount of time. The bill extends the pilot program in four California counties — Kern County not being one of them — before it expands to the entire state on Jan. 1, 2019.

Chain | Cohn | Stiles is actively involved with Mother Against Drunk Driving, Kern County.

Accident Reporting (SB 491): This law increases the minimum financial threshold for property damage that is required to be reported to the DMV from $750 to $1,000 when a driver is involved in a motor vehicle crash.

Vehicle Safety Recalls (AB 287): This law, called the Consumer Automotive Recall Safety (CARS) Act, requires the DMV to include a general advisory regarding vehicle recalls and needed repairs on each vehicle registration renewal notice. This law also bans a dealer or a rental car company from renting or loaning a vehicle with a manufacturer’s recall until the vehicle has been repaired.

Installing Counterfeit or Nonfunctional Air Bags (AB 2387): This law prohibits knowingly and intentionally manufacturing, importing, installing, reinstalling, distributing, or selling any device intended to replace an air bag system in any motor vehicle if the device is a counterfeit or nonfunctional air bag system, or does not meet federal safety requirements. This violation is a misdemeanor punishable by a $5,000 fine and/or up to a one year in county jail.

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If you or someone you know is involved in a motor vehicle accident at the fault of another, please call the accident and injury lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles at (661) 323-4000, or visit the website chainlaw.com.

Safety recalls and liability: What to do if you’ve been injured by a defective product

November 14, 2014 | 7:42 am


Across the globe, between 12 million and 17 million vehicles have been affected by the recent Takata airbag recalls. They include 10 automakers, including the giant Toyota Motor and General Motors companies. About 8 million of the recalls are in the United States.

Worst of all: A fifth death reported Nov. 13, 2014, is thought to be linked to Honda’s defective Takata airbags, USA Today reported.

The U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has sent letters dated to the automakers, urging them to take “aggressive and proactive action to expedite” replacement airbags. The automakers are now facing class-action lawsuits. To view a list of affected vehicles, click here, and for questions and answers on the airbag recall, go here.

The Bakersfield personal injury and products liability law firm Chain | Cohn | Stiles has vast experience in product defect cases. Manufacturers and retailers have an obligation to provide customers with products that are safe, but too often, companies place profits ahead of safety, and the end result is a seriously injured victim.

For years, Chain | Cohn | Stiles has provided a webpage dedicated to keeping up to date on the latest safety recalls. You can view this page here.

It’s important for consumers to know what makes a products liability lawsuit, and what to do if you suspect you or a loved one has been injured because of a defective product. Here are some tips and information related to products liability. For more information, visit this specialized website focused on products liability cases.  

There are three types of defects that create liability for defective products:

  • 1) Manufacturing defects
  • 2) Design defects
  • 3) Marketing defects.

If you are injured by a product that has any one of these defects, you may be entitled to recovery for the damages you have suffered. The most common claim made against a manufacturer is typically referred to as a “strict liability” claim. Under this theory, a manufacturer will be liable if you can establish that

  • 1) The product was defective
  • 2) The defect existed prior to the manufacturer releasing the product
  • 3) The defect caused your damages.

The products liability lawyers at Chain | Cohn | Stiles have provided several frequently asked questions and answers related to safety recall and products cases. To view all of the questions and answers, visit the Frequently Asked Questions webpage by Chain | Cohn | Stiles here.

If I am injured, or a loved one is killed by a defective product, who can I sue?

You can sue the manufacturer of the product. Besides the manufacturer, you can sue every company that was in the marketing chain of the product, i.e., wholesalers, distributors and retailers. Any repairer of the product may also be liable.

What constitutes a defective product under California law?

A product may be found to be defective because of a manufacturing defect, a design defect, or a warning defect. If plaintiff can prove any one of these defects, he or she can win the case against the manufacturer.

What damages can I recover in a defective product case?

The injured person is entitled to recover damages for past and future medical treatment, past and future wage loss, damages for pain, suffering and emotional distress, and, if the injured person can establish bad enough conduct on the part of the manufacturer, punitive damages (i.e. damages intended to punish the business). If the injured person dies, his or her survivors are entitled to recover full compensation for their economic losses that result from the injured person’s death, as well as monetary damages which stem from the loss of society, care, and comfort of the decedent.

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If you have been injured due to a defective product, the Bakersfield products liability attorneys at Chain | Cohn | Stiles recommend taking the following steps:

  • Keep the product and anything related to it, such as packaging, instructions, receipts, etc.
  • Take photographs of the product and the scene of the accident.
  • Verify that you were using the product in accordance with the manufacturer’s written instructions.
  • Gather the names and contact information of any witnesses.
  • Seek medical attention immediately

Once you’ve taken these steps, contact Chain | Cohn | Stiles immediately — by calling 661-323-4000, or visit the website Chainlaw.com — so that the law firm can assist you in filing a products liability lawsuit.