November 29, 2016
When a life-saving device starts shooting shrapnel, it’s not a good sign. Millions of vehicles from nearly two dozen brands have been affected by the Takata airbag recall, according to Car and Driver. Takata’s airbags included a defective inflator and propellant devices that shot shrapnel-like fragments into the driver and passengers when deployed improperly.
The New York Times reported that Honda and Takata allegedly knew about the defective inflators and subsequent shrapnel since as early as 2004, but did not notify the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) or seek a recall until late 2008. The 2008 recall only affected 4,200 vehicles; today, the recall has been expanded to include more than 100 million vehicles, according to Consumer Reports.
What happens when a motorist dies or is seriously injured, not because of driver liability or fault, but because of a defect in the car? The law moves its focus off of the driver and onto manufacturer liability and fault.
A Crisis Fifteen Years in the Making
Takata’s exploding airbags were first recalled from Isuzu as early as 2001, according to AutoBlog. There have been at least 20 recalls concerning Takata’s airbags over the past fifteen years. Delayed symptoms of any car crash can include headaches, back pain, numbness, mental trauma, or even PTSD, according to KTAR News. For Takata airbag victims, even those who survived “looked like they had been shot or stabbed,” CNN Money stated.
“The Takata airbag recall is now a full-blown crisis,” Fortune Magazine reported.
Be sure to check if your vehicle has an airbag that needs to be replaced by going to the NHTSA website and entering your vehicle identification number (VIN).
UPDATE: June 26, 2017
Takata Corp. filed for bankruptcy on Monday, June 26, 2017, claiming bankruptcy protection in Tokyo as well as the United States would be the only way to ensure its ability to continue supplying replacements for its defective airbags.
Takata’s assets will be taken over by Key Safety Systems, a rival company based in Detroit with Chinese ownership. After the $1.6 billion takeover, a portion of Takata’s operations will continue to make replacements for recalls. The recall process is expected to take years, and Takata’s assets aren’t likely to be enough to cover the cost of replacements for automakers, let alone the $1 billion Takata owes in criminal charges for concealing the problem with its airbags.
As of today, 36 percent of the defective airbags in the United States have been replaced, and 70 percent have been replaced in Japan.
It is the responsibility of a manufacturer or vendor of goods to compensate for injury caused by defective merchandise that it has provided for sale. A personal injury attorney can help those seriously injured by an exploding Takata airbag or survivors of a family member who died from an airbag injury. If you or a loved one suffered injuries from a Takata airbag, call Hensley Legal Group today.