Do You Have an ARC Airbag Lawsuit? Find Out for Free

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has recently advised ARC Automotive Inc. (“ARC”) that as many as 52 million of its airbags “contain a defect related to motor vehicle safety and should be recalled.” According to the NHTSA, ARC’s airbags manufactured prior to 2018 contain dangerous inflators that present risks for injury and death. If you have been seriously injured or a loved one has been killed in a vehicle equipped with ARC airbags, you should speak with a lawyer about filing an ARC airbag lawsuit promptly.

What is the Issue with ARC Airbags?

Concerns over ARC’s airbags are not new. While the NHTSA issued its most recent warning in September 2023, the federal agency first notified ARC about its concerns previously after a driver’s death was linked to shrapnel created by an ARC airbag explosion.

The concerns with ARC’s airbags are similar to those that triggered the massive Takata airbag recall affecting tens of millions of vehicles (and which is still pending to this day). As the NHTSA explains:

“[ARC’s frontal and driver passenger] airbag inflators may rupture when the vehicle’s air bag is commanded to deploy, causing metal debris to be forcefully ejected into the passenger compartment of the vehicle. A rupturing air bag inflator poses an unreasonable risk of serious injury or death to vehicle occupants . . . . Based on its investigation, NHTSA believes that ruptures may result from the weld slag produced by the friction welding manufacturing process. Should weld slag of a sufficient size become dislodged, it can cause a blockage of the inflator exit orifice when the air bag deploys. A blockage of sufficient size will cause an over pressurization and rupture of the inflator, leading to the potential forced propulsion of shrapnel or metal fragments from the inflator into the passenger compartment.”

The NHTSA notes that ARC’s airbags have been blamed for at least seven injuries and one death as of September 2023, and that “[a]dditional inflator ruptures are expected to occur in the future, risking more serious injuries and deaths, if they are not recalled and replaced.” Yet, as of the time of the NHTSA’s September 2023 warning, ARC has refused to issue a recall. As reported by the Washington Post, the company has stated that any issues are “’one-off’ manufacturing anomalies” and not indicative of a widespread problem.

The NHTSA disagrees, and has stated that ARC is “inappropriately minimizing the seriousness of the problem,” particularly in light of the lessons learned from the Takata airbag recall.

Which Vehicles are Equipped with ARC Airbags?

The NHTSA’s request for ARC to recall its airbags applies to vehicles manufactured between 2000 and 2018. While the NHTSA has not identified specific vehicle models, its request applies to the following automotive manufacturers:

  • BMW of North America, LLC
  • FCA US, LLC (Chrysler)
  • Ford Motor Company
  • General Motors LLC (Buick and Chevrolet)
  • Hyundai Motor America, Inc.
  • Kia America, Inc.
  • Maserati North America, Inc.
  • Mercedes-Benz USA LLC
  • Porsche Cars North America, Inc.
  • Tesla Inc.
  • Toyota Motor North America, Inc.
  • Volkswagen Group of America, Inc.

The NHTSA states that as many as 52 million vehicles from these manufacturers may be equipped with defective ARC airbags. This includes approximately 41 million airbags manufactured by ARC directly as well as 11 million airbags manufactured by Delphi Automotive Systems LLC pursuant to a licensing agreement with ARC.

Do You Have an ARC Airbag Lawsuit?

If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident while driving or riding in a vehicle equipped with ARC airbags, you may have an ARC lawsuit. Drivers, passengers and their families can file lawsuits against ARC based on the issues identified by the NHTSA. While ARC has denied the NHTSA’s request for a widespread recall, it has apparently acknowledged at least “one-off” issues with its airbags—and, in any case, the company’s acknowledgement isn’t necessary to file a lawsuit.

While the NHTSA has identified concerns with ARC’s airbags generally, injury victims and families must still prove that their (or their loved one’s) airbags were defective. As a result, if you think you may have an ARC airbag lawsuit, you will need to engage a law firm to conduct an investigation. If this investigation reveals that a defective airbag is to blame, your law firm can then use the evidence uncovered during the investigation to assert your (or your family’s) legal rights to seek compensation for your ARC airbag related injuries.

What Should You Do if You Think You May Have a Claim?

What should you do if you think you may have an ARC airbag lawsuit? Any time you think you may have a claim, it is important to take action promptly. With this in mind, as soon as possible, you should:

  • Seek Treatment for Your Injuries – If you were injured by a defective ARC airbag, seeing a doctor promptly will be important for protecting your health and your legal rights.
  • Keep as Much Evidence and Information as Possible – Keep any photos or videos you have from the accident scene and injuries.,
  • Preserve the Vehicle from Salvage or Destruction. Securing the evidence is critical in a products liability lawsuit or claim. Even if your insurance company has taken possession of the vehicle, our law firm often can step in and prevent the vehicle from being sold, altered or destroyed. Time is of the essence. Don’t wait until the evidence is forever gone.
  • Take Detailed Notes – Write down everything you can remember (or know) about the accident. Why do you suspect an airbag failure? What injuries did the airbag cause?
  • Protect Your Claim for Just Compensation – Avoid posting about the accident on social media; and, if an insurance company contacts you, do not say anything about the accident.
  • Talk to a Lawyer – To protect your legal rights and maximize your chances of recovering just compensation, you should talk to a lawyer about your case as soon as you are able to do so.

About Manufacturer Accountability for Airbag Defects

Airbag defects are a major issue. Even if these defects were rare, they would still present substantial risks for those who were unfortunate enough to have defective airbags in their vehicles.

But, defective airbags are not rare. Over the past several years, ARC, Takata and other companies have undergone recalls for tens of millions of defective airbags installed in vehicles sold by most major automotive manufacturers. Millions of  of these vehicles are still on the road, which means that the risk of suffering injuries due to an airbag defect is a very real concern for drivers and passengers across the United States.

Due to the substantial risks that defective airbags present, manufacturers can—and should—be held accountable. If you or someone you love has been injured by a defective ARC airbag, an experienced ARC airbag lawsuit lawyer can help you assert your legal rights. In the United States, the law is clear: Airbag and automotive manufacturers are strictly liable for selling defective airbags.   

“Strict liability” is a legal doctrine that holds companies accountable without proof of negligence. It applies in cases involving all types of defective products—including defective airbags. Basically, due to the risks that defective products present, the law holds manufacturers to a higher standard.

Product defects can take three different forms. All three forms have the same legal consequences—and they all entitle victims to just compensation. The three forms of product defects are:

  • Design Defects – These are defects that result from issues with a product’s design. In the case of an airbag, designing an inflator that is prone to exploding rather than properly inflating the airbag would be an example of a design defect.
  • Manufacturing Defects – These are defects that result from issues during the manufacturing process. With airbags, issues during the manufacturing process can cause failures or explosions even when an airbag has been safely designed.  
  • Failure to Warn – The third type of defect is a failure to warn. If the risks involved with using a product are not readily apparent, the manufacturer may have an obligation to affirmatively disclose these risks to consumers.

In the case of ARC’s defective airbags, the primary issue appears to be a manufacturing defect. When the NHTSA investigated the issues with ARC’s airbags, it concluded that a specific issue during the friction welding process used to manufacture ARC airbags makes them prone to rupturing rather than inflating properly. But, this isn’t the only potential claim in a lawsuit against ARC, and an experienced ARC airbag lawsuit lawyer will thoroughly examine the facts of your case to determine which type of claim (or claims) you can file.

ARC vs. Takata Airbag Recalls

Along with ARC, Takata is another major manufacturer that has been accused of selling tens of millions of defective airbags in recent years. While the ARC and Takata airbag recalls are similar in some respects, there are also several key differences. For example:

  • Takata Initiated a Recall, But ARC Is Yet to Do So – When the NHTSA ordered Takata to initiate a recall in 2014, Takata largely complied. Even then, the issues with Takata’s defective airbag inflators were well known, and the company’s executives could see that the writing was on the wall. But, to date, ARC still has not consented to a recall of its defective airbags. While General Motors has voluntarily recalled more than a million vehicles with ARC airbags, ARC and other automotive manufacturers are fighting to prevent a widespread recall.
  • Takata’s Airbags Have Defective Inflators, While ARC’s Airbags Suffer from a Manufacturing Defect – The primary issue with Takata airbags is that they were equipped with defective inflators that can cause them to explode during deployment. In contrast, the NHTSA has found that ARC’s airbags suffer from a manufacturing defect. Welding slag produced during manufacturing can come loose and block the inflator, leading to an excessive buildup of force and subsequent explosion.
  • While Takata Has Filed for Bankruptcy, ARC Has Not – Facing billions of dollars in potential liability due to its defective airbags, Takata filed for bankruptcy in 2017. However, ARC is disputing the NHTSA’s findings that its airbags are defective, and it is currently still in business. While victims of defective airbags can (and should) sue automotive companies for their losses, the fact that ARC hasn’t filed for bankruptcy means that victims may be able to pursue claims against ARC as well.

While there are some key differences between the ARC and Takata airbag recalls, injury victims of defective airbags manufactured by both companies can hire a lawyer to help them seek just compensation. The fact that ARC is fighting efforts to recall its airbags does not mean that victims are unable to take legal action. A recall isn’t necessary to file a lawsuit; and, if you think you may have an injury claim, we strongly encourage you to speak with an ARC airbag lawsuit lawyer as soon as possible.

The Role of Whistleblowers in Product Safety

Whistleblowers often play an important role in uncovering product safety issues. For example, a whistleblower—a long-time Takata engineer—was responsible for exposing the issues with Takata’s dangerous airbag inflators. While victims and family members who come forward after serious and fatal accidents may not technically qualify as “whistleblowers,” those who come forward still play a key role in exposing safety issues that have the potential to lead to more injuries and fatalities.

If you believe that you have information about a defective ARC airbags, we encourage you to contact us. We are actively representing victims and families in airbag lawsuits nationwide. We can use the information you provide to assist the NHTSA with its ongoing investigation, and we can also use it to assess your legal rights.

Accident victims and family members who are coping with losses caused by airbag defects deserve just compensation—and companies like ARC and automotive manufacturers deserve to be held accountable. To learn more in a free and confidential consultation with an experienced ARC airbag lawsuit lawyer, contact us today.

Talk to a Lawyer About Filing an ARC Airbag Lawsuit for Free

If you have questions about filing an ARC airbag lawsuit, we encourage you to contact us promptly. Airbag injury lawyer, David P. Willis is a Board Certified Personal Injury Trial Lawyer since 1988 and has been representing injured clients against product makers and the automobile manufacturers for 40+ years. Give us a call or send us your contact information online to schedule a free consultation today.