Maryland Auto Safety Alert: Some Jeep Owners May Be Driving Around with Defective Airbag Systems

Products liability is an area of law that handles merchandise and other goods that have injured or killed an individual or group of people as a result of using or being in contact with those items. It includes holding those entities, such manufacturers, suppliers and distributors, responsible for injuries sustained by people who have purchased or used a company’s products. As Baltimore personal injury attorneys, my firm works to help clients who have been hurt, maimed or killed as a result of an unsafe or defective product.

Here in the U.S., product liability claims most often entail negligence, strict liability, breach of warranty, and other consumer-related claims. When it comes to the law, products liability looks at three major areas of liability claims, including defects in manufacturing, poor or faulty design, as well as failure to warn the consumer about shortcomings in a product. This last area involves what is sometimes referred to as marketing defects.
As Maryland automobile and trucking-accident lawyers, our aim is to assist victims of traffic accidents that have been caused by another individual’s negligence. In some instances of car, truck or motorcycle wrecks, the cause can occasionally be traced to failure of a safety-related component or part that failed and resulted in a roadway crash. It’s not unheard of to have a car or truck part, such as a steering arm, wheel bearing or suspension component break or fail and cause a loss of control for the driver.

Other problems, especially those involving passive safety components, can also result in injury or death of an innocent person. It isn’t a stretch to say that drivers all over the country take the benefits of airbags for granted since their appearance decades ago. Yet, while the airbag systems in modern cars are designed to be reliable and trouble-free, there are always potential problems ready to hit the headlines.

According to news reports, Chrysler has announced a recall of three-quarters of a million Jeep models for reportedly faulty airbag systems. Based on recent news articles, Jeep Liberty and Grand Cherokee sport utility vehicles have been named in the recall. Chrysler has listed ’02 and ‘03 Liberty models as well as ’02 through ‘04 Grand Cherokee models as being equipped with potentially defective airbag and seatbelt control systems that could result in premature deployment or activation.

Not only is this a dangerous situation for occupants of these vehicles, but if any vehicle’s airbag goes off unexpectedly and without reason, the driver could easily lose control and crash into another car, truck or pedestrian. Based on the news coming out of Chrysler, more than 740,000 Jeep Liberty and Grand Cherokee models are affected. The problem includes those vehicle’s airbag systems, as well as the safety belt pre-tensioning controls, which can inadvertently activate; this according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The culprit, according to reports, are the electronic circuits inside the airbag control module, which have the potential to fail as a result of what engineers refer to as “electrical overstress.” In the case of the airbag system in the vehicles mentioned, a faulty signal could cause the front airbag(s) or the so-called side-curtain airbags to operate suddenly and without warning. The NHTSA has been in the process of investigating Liberty models since late 2011, during which time it has received more than 100 complaints and reports of inadvertent deployment, almost 60 of which caused minor injury to vehicle occupants.

Back in January of this year, the NHTSA added the Grand Cherokee to its investigation, based on news reports, following the receipt of nearly 90 reports of unexpected deployment. Of those, nearly one-quarter involved minor injuries. Just last month, it was determined that a supplier to Chrysler had apparently utilized a different metal than specified in the manufacture of come electrical capacitors. Chrysler engineers concluded that electrical faults, likely due to these capacitors, were responsible for triggering the unintended airbag deployment in Grand Cherokee models.

Recall: 745,000 Jeep Liberty, Grand Cherokee SUVs for faulty airbags;, November 9, 2012

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