One death and 3 serious injuries have been linked to exploding ARC airbags in GM vehicles. In response, GM has recalled over 1 million vehicles.
Need a Texas GM Airbag Lawyer? Collen A. Clark is a true advocate for his clients and is passionate about helping Texans that have been injured or wronged. If you were injured or a loved one died when a GM airbag exploded or failed to deploy, you should contact our lawyers immediately. You may be entitled to compensation by filing a lawsuit.
Airbag Failure Lawsuits Against GM
General Motors (GM), one of the largest car manufacturers in America, is facing a growing number of lawsuits and class actions from consumers who claim that their airbags failed to work, or exploded and shot out deadly pieces of metal.
What is the Problem?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is warning drivers that around 52 million airbag inflators could be defective because they can rupture and shoot out metal shrapnel.
Who Made These Defective Airbags?
These airbag inflators were manufactured between 2000 and January 2018 by ARC Automotive and Delphi Automotive Systems, and installed in vehicles that were sold by GM and 11 other auto-makers in the U.S.
GM Vehicles With ARC Airbags Linked to 1 Death, 3 Injuries
These airbag inflators “could explode, hurl shrapnel and injure or kill people,” according to the NHTSA. Since 2009, at least 2 deaths and 7 injuries have been linked to ARC airbag explosions.
One of those deaths and 3 serious injuries involved GM vehicles with driver-side ARC airbag inflators that over-pressurized when the airbag deployed — sometimes after minor crashes or fender-benders.
Lawsuit Filed After GM Airbag Explosion Kills Mother in Michigan
In August 2021, an exploding ARC airbag inflator in a 2015 Chevrolet Traverse killed a mother in Michigan who had 10 children. According to a wrongful death lawsuit filed against ARC Automotive by her family, the 39-year-old woman was hit by another vehicle. When her airbag deployed, she was hit in the chest, neck, and head by metal parts from the inflator, steering wheel and column.
Three Other Injuries Linked to Exploding ARC Airbags in GM Vehicles
NHTSA investigators have found 3 reports of people who were seriously injured when they were hit by metal from an exploding ARC airbag in a GM vehicle, including:
- September 22, 2017 — Driver in Pennsylvania injured in the face and head by metal from a driver-side airbag inflator that ruptured in a 2010 Chevrolet Malibu in Pennsylvania.
- October 20, 2021 — Driver in Kentucky injured in the face by metal from a driver-side airbag inflator in a 2015 Chevrolet Traverse.
- March 22, 2023 — Driver in Michigan injured in the face by metal from a driver-side airbag inflator in a 2017 Chevrolet Traverse.
1 Million GM Vehicles Recalled for ARC Airbag Hazards
In May 2023, about 1 million GM vehicles were recalled to repair the driver-side frontal ARC airbag inflators. The recall included the following GM vehicles:
- 2014-2017 Chevrolet Malibu
- 2014-2017 Chevrolet Traverse
- 2014-2017 Buick Enclave
- 2014-2017 GMC Acadia
According to the recall notice: “A driver’s-side front airbag inflator explosion may result in sharp metal fragments striking the driver or other occupants, resulting in serious injury or death.”
The recall was prompted by a report of a driver in Michigan who was hit in the face by metal shrapnel that blew out of an ARC airbag inflator in March 2023. They were driving a 2017 Chevrolet Traverse.
Earlier ARC Airbag Recalls from GM
GM has issued several previous recalls for vehicles with ARC airbag inflators that can rupture and shoot out metal fragments, including:
- December 21, 2018 — GM recalls 1,145 model-year 2010 and 2011 Chevrolet Malibu (Recall # 19V-019)
- October 7, 2021 — GM recalls 555 model-year 2008-2017 Buick Enclave, 2013-2017 Chevrolet Traverse (Recall # 21V-782)
- April 14, 2022 — GM recalls 2,687 model-year 2015 Buick Enclave, 2015 GMC Acadia, 2015 Chevrolet Traverse (Recall # 22V-246)
- May 19, 2022 — GM recalls 74 vehicles for “driver air bag service replacement parts” (Recall # 22E-040)
Safety Officials in Canada Investigating GM Vehicles
Problems with ARC airbag explosions are also under investigation in Canada, where Transport Canada has provided a list of GM vehicles that may have driver frontal airbag inflators manufactured by ARC Automotive. These vehicles include:
- Buick Enclave 2008-2017
- Buick LaCrosse 2005-2009, 2017
- Buick Rainier 2005-2007
- Buick Rendezvous 2004-2007
- Buick Terazza 2005-2007
- Cadillac ATS 2013-2017
- Cadillac CTS 2003-2007, 2014-2016
- Cadillac Deville 2004-2005
- Cadillac ELR 2014, 2016
- Cadillac Escalade 2003-2016
- Cadillac Escalade EXT 2003-2013
- Cadillac Escalade ESV 2003-2014
- Cadillac Seville 2003-2004
- Cadillac SRX 2004-2009
- Cadillac STS 2005
- Cadillac STS and STS-V 2006-2007
- Cadillac XLR 2004-2007
- Cadillac XTS 2013-2016
- Chevrolet Aveo 2004-2005
- Chevrolet Avalanche 2002-2013
- Chevrolet Cavalier 2003-2005
- Chevrolet Corvette C6 2005-2013
- Chevrolet Epica 2004
- Chevrolet Equinox 2005-2006
- Chevrolet Express 2003-2008
- Chevrolet Impala 2006-2010
- Chevrolet Malibu 2004-2005, 2008-2015
- Chevrolet Monte Carlo 2006-2010
- Chevrolet Silverado 2003-2013
- Chevrolet Suburban 2002-2014
- Chevrolet Tahoe 2003-2014
- Chevrolet SSR 2003-2006
- Chevrolet TrailBlazer 2004
- Chevrolet Trailblazer/EXT 2005-2009
- Chevrolet Traverse 2009-2017
- Chevrolet Venture 2004-2005
- Chevrolet Uplander 2005-2009
- GMC Acadia 2007-2016
- GMC Envoy 2004
- GMC Envoy/XL/XUV 2005-2009
- GMC Savana 2003-2008
- GMC Sierra 2003-2013
- GMC Yukon 2003-2013
- GMC Yukon XL 2003-2013
- Hummer H2 2003-2007
- Hummer H3 2006-2010
- Hummer H3T 2009-2010
- Oldsmobile Bravada 2004-2005
- Oldsmobile Silhouette 2004
- Pontiac Bonneville 2004-2005
- Pontiac G6 2005-2009
- Pontiac Montana 2004-2005
- Pontiac Montana SV6 2005-2009
- Pontiac Sunfire 2003-2005
- Pontiac Torrent 2006
- Saab 9-7X 2005-2009
- Saturn Aura 2007-2009
- Saturn Outlook 2007-2010
- Saturn Relay 2005-2009
- Saturn Vue 2004-2007
NHTSA Investigates GM Airbag Failures After 15 Complaints, 8 Injuries Reported
In April 2021, federal safety officials began investigating reports of airbag failures on around 750,000 GM vehicles, according to the Associated Press. The vehicles are Chevrolet, Cadillac and GMC vehicles from the 2020 and 2021 model-years.
There were 15 complaints of airbag malfunctions, resulting in 6 crashes with 8 injuries. “Six crash incidents have significant frontal collision damage where driver frontal air bags failed to deploy,” according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
GM warned dealerships about the problem back in March 2021, but did not issue a recall. According to the Service Bulletin, rust particles can accumulate on the driver’s airbag connection terminal, which could stop the airbags from inflating in an accident.
The investigation covers Chevrolet Silverado pickups, GMC Sierra pickups, Chevy Tahoe and Suburban SUVs, GMC Yukon and Cadillac Escalade SUVs, Cadillac CT4 and CT5 sedans, and XT4 SUVs.
Why Do Airbags Fail?
Airbags can fail for a number of reasons, such as defects in the vehicle or the airbag itself. When airbags fail, the consequences are often life-threatening injuries or death. The occupants can hit the steering wheel, windshield, dashboard, roof, interior and windows.
Reasons Why Airbags May Not Deploy
- The type of accident: Because airbags themselves can cause injuries, they are only supposed to deploy after moderate-to-severe auto accidents — not fender-benders or bumping a curb, for example. But in some scenarios, airbags might fail to deploy in severe accidents, including rollovers, some side-impact collisions, rear-end collisions, and accidents involving multiple collisions (such as hitting a curb before hitting a tree).
- Airbag sensor problems: Airbags will only work if the sensors correctly detect that the vehicle has hit a solid object. In addition, the sensors must be able to correctly signal that the impact was severe enough to meet the firing threshold.
- Airbags automatically turn off for child or small adults: In some modern vehicles, airbags for the front passenger seat will sense the weight of the person in the seat and automatically turn off the airbag if there is a child or small-statured adult in the seat.
- Software malfunctions: The vehicle’s software must be calibrated properly to determine when airbags should go off. This can get tricky when the vehicle is involved in accidents involving multiple collisions.
- Electrical problems: Airbags can fail to deploy if there are electrical problems between the sensors and the airbag system. This is sometimes due to faulty clock springs in the steering column.
- Vehicle is defectively designed: Some vehicles are prone to airbag failures because the car is poorly designed, with critical wires routed through parts of the car that are easily damaged in an accident.:
- Airbag itself is defective: Airbag manufacturers might be responsible for an airbag failure due to poor quality control, defectively designed airbags, and manufacturing errors.
- Airbag was not replaced after a previous accident: When you buy a used car, it is essential to determine if the airbags were replaced if the car has been in an accident. Used car dealerships are usually responsible for double-checking this before selling the vehicle.
Can I File a Lawsuit for Airbag Failures?
Yes. If you or a loved one were injured in a GM vehicle because the airbags failed to deploy or exploded and shot out metal fragments, you may be able to file a lawsuit against GM, the airbag manufacturer, and others — such as the dealership that sold you the vehicle, or the previous owner.
Need a GM Airbag Lawyer in Texas?
Collen A. Clark is a true advocate for his clients and is passionate about helping Texans that have been injured or wronged.
Collen’s amazing success in the courtroom and well known dedication to his clients has earned him the recognition of his peers as one of The Top Trial Lawyers in Texas.”
The Clark Firm has assembled a team of trial lawyers with more than 100 years experience, participation in over 600 jury trials and $260 million in verdicts and/or settlements. Please use the form below to contact our law firm for a free case review.