Japanese automotive parts maker Takata has issued yet another massive airbag recall. In early January, Takata issued recalls for an additional 3.3 million defective air bag inflators, expanding the largest automotive recall in U.S. history.
According to the NHSTA website’s dedicated section on the Takata airbag recalls, “approximately 34 million vehicles are currently under recall for approximately 46 million defective Takata air bags that can explode when the airbag deploys, causing serious injury or even death. Additional airbags are scheduled to be recalled by December 2019, bringing the total number of affected airbags to around 65-70 million.”
In an effort to reduce manufacturing costs, Takata used the chemical “ammonium nitrate” as a propellant to create a small explosion that inflates airbags quickly in a crash. Takata had extensive knowledge that the chemical was unstable and could destabilize over time or with exposure to high humidity and temperatures. The chemical breakdown results in the propellant burning too fast causing the airbag inflator’s metal casing to rupture, firing hot shrapnel at the vehicle’s occupants. Despite Takata’s knowledge, it elected to accept the risk to lives in order to reduce costs and improve profits. These defective airbags have been aptly referred to as “ticking time bombs”.
Takata agreed to plead guilty to criminal wrongdoing and pay a total of $1 billion in criminal penalties stemming from the company’s fraudulent conduct. The company then filed bankruptcy. There is currently an effort in the bankruptcy to establish a trust fund to compensate those with personal injury claims based on the injury, with amounts ranging from $10,000 for minor injuries to $5,000,000 for death. The creation of the trust would serve as a bar from suing car manufacturers that opt-in to join the trust. The proposal has yet to be approved.
If you received a recall notice in the mail, contact the dealer right away to get your repair scheduled. To determine whether your vehicle is part of the recall, go to: https://www.nhtsa.gov/recalls and enter your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).
If you have questions about the recall or if you have suffered an injury due to a recalled airbag, contact us at (877) 277-7336 or via our online portal to speak with one of our personal injury or product liability attorneys. There is no charge to speak with us or for case evaluations.