We are lucky to live in a time when automobiles are recalled, as a matter of course, whenever facts reveal that it may be defective and potentially dangerous. But, on the other hand, it is pretty alarming when a major automobile manufacturer recalls several of its newest models. This is the case with Nissan, which just announced a recall of five different 2013 models—Altima, Pathfinder, Sentra, Leaf, and Infiniti JX35—and for two separate defects.
All five models, it appears, may have faulty occupant detection systems (ODSs), and one model, the 392 Sentra, has a potentially leaky fuel tank, owing to a faultily manufactured seal. The ODS recall affects 87,094 Nissans built this year, and all 2013 models built in 2012. The fuel tank recall only affects cars built from September 11, 2012 to October 2, 2012.
The air bag malfunction, which involves a much larger number of vehicles than the fuel tank anomaly, is a serious safety hazard. Sometimes, an airbag can cause injury because of its inordinate force, or because it was deployed erroneously. But, in this case—owing to a faulty occupant detection system—the danger is that airbags will not deploy at all.
The purpose of an occupant detection system is to determine who is sitting in a car, and—importantly—the size and weight of each occupant. It is there to ensure that airbags will not be deployed for children or very small adults, thereby harming them. But, in the case of these new Nissan models, the ODS system does not work properly, and can potentially keep airbags from being released at all, regardless of the weight of the occupants of the car. Needless to say, this malfunction can cause serious harm to those who are large enough to require airbags for protection.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the lives of 4,658 people have been saved because of airbags. The combination of safety belts and air bags is said to be 75 percent effective in preventing serious head injuries, and 66 percent effective in preventing serious chest injuries. Moreover, driver air bags reduce deaths in frontal crashes by 26 percent for drivers wearing safety belts, and passenger air bags reduce deaths in frontal crashes by 14 percent for passengers wearing safety belts.
It goes without saying that the other defect, a potentially leaky fuel tank, can cause a car to explode. Though, fortunately, fewer cars have been recalled for this flaw, it is indeed a serious problem.
If you have recently purchased one of these 2013 Nissans, you should contact your local dealer immediately. And, if you or a loved one has been injured in an accident involving one of these recalled cars, you should contact a knowledgeable product defect attorney as soon as possible—one with a track record of success in fighting automobile manufacturers.
Our airbag and product defect lawyers understand that safety should never be an option. The lawyers at Reiff and Bily have received the highest possible peer review ratings in legal ability and ethical standards, and have been recognized as the Top 100 Attorneys in Philadelphia and Top Attorneys in the Northeast. We always offer a free, no obligation consultation.