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Insights

The Competition and Consumer Act (“CCA”) deals with the way product recalls are handled in Australia. Most suppliers often initiate the recall of dangerous products themselves, getting ahead of that potentially dangerous curve and poor publicity. However, in some cases, recall notices are not issued by the suppliers, and instead the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (“ACCC”) can recommend to the Minister that a compulsory recall be initiated.

On 13 July 2017 a man in NSW was tragically killed as a result of his faulty airbag. This sparked urgent investigations by the ACCC which found that the affected Takata airbags were degrading over time, misdeploying and firing metal shards (similar to shrapnel) towards the occupants of the vehicles.

Following the findings of the ACCC investigations, on 27 February 2018 a compulsory recall was initiated for all vehicles with defective Takata airbags.

The compulsory recall required suppliers to account for all affected vehicles (100%) by 31 December 2020 (unless the ACCC had otherwise agreed to an extension).

With an estimated 100 million vehicles affected worldwide, the recall on Takata airbags was one of the largest recalls of its sort in the world, and the most significant compulsory recall in Australia’s history; with some 4 million affected vehicles in Australia alone. This was not an issue confined to a handful of car manufacturers; instead, nearly all manufacturers were affected.

Since the recall was initiated, more than 3.7 million vehicles have been repaired in order to replace the defective airbags. During that time, and despite the recalls being made injuries have occurred.

Globally, these Takata airbags have been associated with over 350 serious injuries and 33 deaths. This includes one death in Sydney in July 2017 (mentioned above) and one serious injury in Darwin in April 2017. Two injuries were also reported following an accident in Sydney in August 2020.

With most vehicles now repaired (except 0.002% as reported by the ACCC), it is unlikely that many further injuries will be seen in Australia resulting from these faults in airbags. Motorists can check whether or not their airbags are affected by visiting ismyairbagsafe.com.au.

However, any injuries which have occurred either before or during the recall period, may be compensable. This means that anyone injured as a result of the faulty airbags may be entitled to compensation. Strict time limits may apply, and you should seek legal advice as soon as possible.

At Kells we have expertise in claims involving product liability claim and injuries caused by faulty products. We can also help you by providing advice “no win, no fee”. If you have been injured due to a defective product, contact our office today.