Takata Airbags Still Pose Dangers Despite Recalls
By: Cohen, Placitella & Roth @ Jun 30, 2016
Over ten years since the first Takata airbag-related death was reported and nearly two years since a massive recall of certain vehicles equipped with the faulty airbags began, it is becoming increasingly clear that there is an ever-growing class of individuals who are unknowingly driving vehicles equipped with defective – and deadly – airbags. Some individuals who have vehicles equipped with defective Takata airbags are not even being notified about this fact, leading to unnecessary injuries and deaths.
What is the Danger from Takata Airbags?
In 2014, The New York Times published a story indicating that Japanese manufacturer Takata knew and had known for years that a metal inflator used in its airbags could under the right circumstances inflate with too much force. This could send metal shards shooting into the face and neck of the driver, causing serious injury or even death. While the actual number of such incidents is statistically low – in 2014 when the story about Takata airbags first broke there were only about seven deaths and approximately 100 injuries related to the defective airbag – these incidents are nonetheless tragic and horrendous for the injured person and/or his or her family.
This in part explains why there has not been a nationwide, mandatory recall of vehicles equipped with Takata airbags. The current recall includes nearly 30 million vehicles manufactured by a total of fourteen automakers. As of January 2016, only about 30 percent of the recalled inflator units had been replaced.
Problems in Replacing Takata Airbags
Because of the scope of the problem, many people who have received recall notices have been told by their local dealership that it may be weeks – or even months – before replacement kits are available to fix the defect in the airbags. Some dealerships are refusing to give customers “loaners,” leaving many of these drivers with a terrible choice: Continue driving the car with the potentially-deadly airbag until a replacement kit becomes available or go without a vehicle for weeks or months.
What Can Consumers with Takata Airbag-Equipped Do?
According to ConsumerReports.org, drivers should check with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) website or with other government agencies to determine if a recall has been issued for their vehicle. The NHTSA website requires drivers to enter the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) of their vehicle and will inform the driver whether his or her car is subject to a recall. Vehicle manufacturers who have used Takata inflators also have information about which models are being recalled. If a driver finds that a recall has been issued for his or her vehicle, he or she should contact a local dealership and schedule a time to have the vehicle repaired as soon as possible.
Your vehicle is supposed to help keep you safe in the event of an accident, not present a greater danger. If you or a loved one have been injured or killed because of a Takata airbag or other vehicle defect, contact Cohen, Placitella & Roth, P.C. for assistance in protecting your legal rights. Call our Philadelphia office at (215) 567-3500 or contact our offices online for prompt and compassionate assistance.