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Takata Air Bags Linked to U.S. Deaths

One of the on-going stories in the arena of defective products has been the recent recall of airbags made by Japanese airbag manufacturer, Takata. As it turns out, a large number of Takata were installed in U.S. vehicles. Takata airbags have been identified as having potentially faulty airbag inflators, which increases the risk of the airbag exploding and causing flying shrapnel to be projected into a vehicles cabin. The faulty airbag inflators have been linked to eight deaths in the United States, nine worldwide, and more than 100 injuries, according to Reuters and the Wall Street Journal. All nine deaths have occurred in Honda Accords.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), most of these airbag inflator ruptures have occurred in humid climates, such as Florida, Puerto Rico and Malaysia. However, the most recent death associated with the Takata airbags, which involved a 13-year-old boy who went riding in a relative’s Honda Accord, occurred in Pennsylvania this past summer. To be sure, the vehicle involved in the Pennsylvania accident had spent many years in the humid Gulf region.

An extensive recall affecting over 90 million vehicles has been issued in a piecemeal fashion over the past year-and-a-half. The recall involves vehicles that may contain faulty Takata airbag inflators in either the driver airbag, passenger airbag, or both. As new vehicles with the defective airbags are identified, they are added to the recall list. Several car makes are subject to the recall, including:

  • BMW;
  • Chrysler;
  • Daimler trucks;
  • Daimler vans;
  • Fords;
  • General Motors;
  • Honda;
  • Mazda;
  • Mitsubishi;
  • Nissan;
  • Subaru; and
  • Toyota.

A complete, official list of the makes and models that are affected by the Takata airbag recall can be found here, or you can check your vehicle’s VIN number for any applicable recalls here.

Limited Success of the Recall So Far

Due to the risk of death and serious injury associated with the Takata faulty airbags, it is important that those individuals who own an affected make and model of vehicle get their airbags replaced. But the recall so far has met with limited success. At present, only about 30 percent of the affected vehicles have completed their recall repairs. The reason that it has been so difficult to get the affected vehicles repaired is that many Americans remain uninformed about the Takata recall. Additionally, it has proven difficult to provide notification to owners of the affected vehicles as many of the vehicles that are affected have entered the secondary market and have been resold to new owners, who are difficult to locate.

The Consequences For Takata

The NHTSA entered into a $70 million settlement agreement with Takata over the faulty airbag inflators, which requires that Takata implement a number of safety measures in a timely manner. If Takata does not comply with the terms of the settlement within an allotted amount of time, the fee could grow to as much as $200 million.

When car accidents happen and safety equipment does not function properly, people get hurt. Contact one of our products liability attorneys at Cohen, Placitella & Roth, P.C. today to discuss your case at no charge to you. Call us at (215) 567-3500 or send us an email through our online contact form available here.

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