Compensation only if defect is proven in airbags: National Commission
The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission has ruled that car companies cannot be asked to compensate for death or injury despite airbags deflating after an accident unless a manufacturing defect is proved.
A bench of judges BC Gupta and VK Jain of the apex commission said this while dismissing a petition filed by the wife of Vijay Saxena (38), a businessman who died when his new Skoda Octavia collided with a truck. His family sought hefty compensation from the car manufacturer, saying the death was on account of the airbag malfunctioning.
The widow told the court that the company had assured them that the car was of a particular standard quality and grade. However, when the accident took place, the “safety measures as projected were not properly activated on account of a manufacturing defect, which resulted in the bursting of the safety bag. The death was only on account of such defect.” The petitioner stated that such defects had been reported from time to time in other vehicles as well and in many cases the companies had decided to recall the vehicles to remove the defects.
However, the bench was of the view that she could not prove the manufacturing defect in the vehicle – without which no compensation could be ordered. “Even the complainants stated in one paragraph of the complaint that the airbags did not inflate but in a subsequent para they stated that the airbags busted. Had the airbags not functioned at all, it could be imagined that there was some defect,” said the court.
The car company, in its defence, stated that the person seated next to the driver survived the crash, meaning the airbag system did function during the collision. It further stated that the complainants had not produced any expert opinion in support of their version that the car suffered from manufacturing defect.