Takata Corporation, a company that supplies millions of airbags and other safety equipment for vehicles, has come under fire lately with the allegations that they knew their airbags were faulty over a decade ago, but failed to take action. In fact, instead of reporting their findings, the company attempted to cover up the results of their testing, opting instead not to report the knowledge of their defective airbags in favor of not issuing a recall. This has caused recalls in nearly 8 million vehicles, including both Japanese and US manufacturers, to replace the airbags that could have fatal consequences if they deploy.
When a car is in a collision, sensors around the vehicle detect the impact. If the impact is of sufficient force, chemicals react very quickly inside the airbag to produce a large pulse of hot nitrogen gas. This gas inflates the bag, which literally bursts out of the steering wheel, dashboard or other parts of the car as it expands. The inflated bag keeps the driver’s face and body from forcefully impacting the much harder surfaces of the car.
Regulators and safety experts have concluded that not all vehicles are equally at risk, and decided that humidity and temperature play a significant role in which airbags will explode when opening. Because of this new information, Honda has recalled around 1 million vehicles, but they have limited that recall to areas of the country that have higher humidity and warmer temperatures. Those areas include: California, Florida, Southern Georgia, Louisiana, and several others. This raises a potential problem though as many people travel seasonally. While their vehicle may be registered in a state that is not supposed to be affected, they might drive that car to Florida, California, or somewhere warmer for a significant portion of the year.
Despite the fact that Takata is a Japanese company, the airbag recall does not just affect vehicles that were made in Japan. The recall affects nearly 8 million vehicles made by 10 major manufacturers. The manufacturers recalling vehicles are:
BMW – BMW is recalling over half a million cars, most in their 3 Series, because of the defective airbags. To date there have been no reports of anyone being injured by a malfunctioning airbag in a BMW vehicle.
Chrysler – Chrysler is recalling vehicles primarily under their Dodge brand. Many of the Dodge Ram trucks incorporated Takata airbags.
Ford – Ford rarely uses Takata in its manufacturing process. Only around 59,000 Ford vehicles are being recalled.
General Motors – The Pontiac Vibe and the Saab 9-2X are being recalled.
Honda – One of the hardest hit was the Japanese auto manufacturer Honda. The manufacturer has recalled over 5 million vehicles due to the possibility of a defective airbag inflator. The latest recall, from June 2014, affects only vehicles that are registered in the state of California. It is believed that climate has a major impact on whether or not the airbag deploys properly.
Mazda – Mazda has an estimated 65,000 vehicles on their recall list.
Mitsubishi – The 2004-2005 Lancer and the 2006-2007 Raider are the only two vehicles on Mitsubishi’s recall list.
Nissan – Nissan has recalled almost 700,000 vehicles, many in their popular models Maxima and Pathfinder.
Subaru – Just 17,500 vehicles made it onto the Subaru recall list.
Toyota – Another Japanese manufacturer has been heavily hit. Almost 900,000 vehicles are on Toyota’s recall list affecting models made in the early 2000’s.
Full list of vehicles being recalled can be found on the NHTSA website.
Can I file a lawsuit if I have have been injured by Takata Airbags?
Possibly. If a manufacturer produces a dangerous or defective product, it can be held responsible to those who are injured as the result of inadequate warnings, under a legal theory known as “product liability.” Depending upon the particular circumstances of your case, damages may include recovery for any of the following:
- Past and future medical expenses
- Past and future pain and suffering
- Lost wages
- Loss of future earning capacity
- Emotional distress
If you or a loved one have been injured by Takata Airbags, you should contact your doctor immediately. You may also wish to contact an experienced Takata Airbags lawyer to discuss your legal options. As all legal claims are subject to time limits, however, you may risk forfeiture of your right to financial compensation if you delay.