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The Takata air bag debacle appears to only be getting bigger

Back in May, we tried to catch Georgia readers up on the largest auto products recall in U.S. history. The baseline information in that item about potentially deadly Takata air bags remains valid, but since that post, the story has gotten bigger.

At the time of that earlier post, six people had been reported killed in crashes as a result of air bag canister shrapnel that flew through the passenger compartments of their vehicles. Now the toll has climbed to eight. More than 100 people have been injured by the product defects.

Another thing that has changed since that original post is that list of vehicles involved appears to be expanding. Eleven carmakers were listed as having made one of about 34 million vehicles that need to be recalled to have bags replaced. This week, the scope of concern expanded to include Volkswagen. VW happens to have taken the lead as the world's largest automaker as of the second quarter of 2015.

What sparked the broader worries was a Missouri accident in June. A 2015 VW Tiguan SUV had a run-in with a deer and a Takata side air bag ruptured. VW officials say the driver didn't seek treatment, so injuries must have been minimal. But they also say they don't know why the bag deployed and they are investigating.

The issue that seems to be of greatest concern is that the model of air bag involved isn't part of the massive recall. VW and Takata say they don't need to be. The recalled bags are believed to have become faulty because of age and long exposure to too much heat and humidity. The VW bags are all new.

But two U.S. senators who have been tracking this issue aren't so sure. They called today for all vehicles with Takata bags to be recalled and for Takata to make its investigation data to date public so independent experts can check it.

No one can know when a defective auto part might cause a serious car or truck accident. What is certain is that victims of such accidents and their families have options for ensuring their rights are protected. An experienced attorney can help identify them and pursue them if desired.

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