What You Need to Know About the Takata Airbags
In the past few months, the automotive world has been faced with one recall after another. Of late, the focus has shifted to Takata airbag recalls from General Motors recalls. Takata is a Japan-based auto supplier which provided automobile manufacturers with almost 25% of the inflators utilized in activating airbags in case of an accident. Takata airbags faults are not just limited to a specific car manufacturer. They affect all car brands that were supplied with the airbags.
Though airbags have been quite helpful in minimizing the injuries that befall drivers and passengers, recently uncovered faults pose a serious threat to motorists. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (federal agency accountable for automotive safety) has authorized Takata airbag recalls and expressed its concerns regarding the delays in Takata airbag recalls. Additionally, the Administration has urged Takata to hasten its production of completely safe airbag replacements.
Takata airbags have also been linked to numerous severe and minor injuries and at least eight deaths. The inflators utilized in faulty Takata airbags have the potential of sending metal chips into the torsos and faces of the drivers and passengers. If this, unfortunately, happened to you, seek professional advice. There are experienced car accident attorneys ready to represent you and make sure you are well compensated.
The main issue regarding the Takata airbags is their potential to severely injury, maim, or wound drivers and passengers. One of the most recent airbag recalls involving more than 14 million cars was founded on revelations that the inflators used in the airbag were capable of bursting and sending shrapnel into the bodies of the passengers and drivers.
The Takata airbags are particularly dangerous in humid conditions and regions. In such environments, their possibility of malfunctioning when activated is quite high. Six different airbag rupturing events in the humid states like Florida and Puerto Rico have been compiled by NHTSA.
One of the questions that a lot of people ask themselves is if Takata knew that their airbags were dangerous.
According to allegations made by previous Takata employees, Takata Corporation might have first known about the airbags’ defects back in 2004. This particular date is actually five years earlier than the date that Takata actually shared with the NHTSA. The previous employees claim that Takata recovered airbags from junkyards and carried out tests on them to establish if the inflation tools in the airbags could rip open the airbag and cause harm. In the process of testing, Takata supposedly discovered defects and then instructed the employees to erase all proof of the airbag faults from the company’s computers. Additionally, these tests were done outside the usual work hours. It is as if it was some form of secret operation being carried out; it was definitely not intended for the public’s ears.
Car Accident Attorneys Are Watching the Takata Recall Closely
The buzz is still there, and it is getting louder. With over 14 automakers issuing recalls on their cars, the Takata Airbag Recall is probably the largest safety recall in U.S. history. The problem: self-deploying airbags installed in cars from as early as 2002. These airbags can explode with shrapnel and injure or even kill passengers.
Based on investigations, the airbag’s inflator is what is causing the explosion. The inflator is a metal cartridge designed with propellant wafers that are defective. Time, moisture, and other environmental factors can cause the propellant to ignite and cause the airbag to explode. In the worst-case scenario, the metal casing can rupture during the explosion, turning it into deadly shrapnel.
Current Status of the Issue
As of September 2016, there are nine recorded deaths in the United States, and another 139 are injured, all of which are because of the airbag explosions. To date, a total of 16.5 million units are recalled from at least 14 car manufacturers. Outside the U.S., there are three recorded deaths in Malaysia. The estimated total number of affected cars is 35 million.
As of October 20, 2016, the Takata airbag claimed another life in a 2001 Honda Civic, which is now the 11th death in the United States. Out of the 11 fatalities, nine of these are from Honda and Acura. According to Honda, they estimate that only 300,000 affected vehicles did not go through the necessary repair.
What Automakers Are Doing
For the last few months, several automakers have taken proactive steps to correct the problem. In recent months, Honda and Acura dealers have replaced upwards of 20,000 Takata airbags on a daily basis. Some companies also cold-called their customers, advising them to take their vehicles to the nearest dealership for replacement. Others went so far as to advertise in football games and send mass emails and snail mails to their consumer base.
Some manufacturers, like Honda, created a centralized web center that houses all relevant information and updates about the recall. This web page is prominently displayed on Honda’s home page. As days go by, the issue seems to be discovered in more and more older car models. Honda also doubled its call center representatives to answer the growing number of people calling each day. Automated phone calls and text messaging programs are also in place.
Several companies took the initiative to social media like Facebook and Twitter to increase awareness and invite customers to bring in their cars. Some even distributed flyers as a means to educate people about the growing problem.
Below is a list of car manufacturers reported to have been affected by the recall.
- GM Pontiac and Saab
- Jaguar/Land Rover
Takata’s Legal Battle
An article in the New York Times suggested that Takata had prior knowledge of the defective airbags but did not report it to the appropriate authorities. The U.S. government is now calling for a criminal investigation on the case. Takata, on the other hand, denied the accusation and said that they are in cooperation with the government investigation.
Takata stated as early as 2015 that it has 88 reports of explosions. Takata is legally liable to replace all these airbags which have been implemented over the course of 15 years in the different car makes and models. Today, the campaign is focused on high humidity areas where airbag explosions are likely to occur. Takata may also be liable for wrongful deaths associated with the airbags.
Common Consumer Inquiries
Concerned consumers naturally have a lot of questions about this major recall. Below, we have supplied the answers to some of the most commonly asked questions.
How serious is the Issue?
Any recall is a serious matter. Companies will not waste money on a recall if it does not endanger the lives of people. Anyone who has a car with a Takata airbag should call the car company and get clarification if it is part of the recall, especially if the car is old.
Is my place of residence a problem?
Yes, it can be an issue. According to preliminary investigations, the airbags are likely to rupture in high humidity and temperature areas. The high temperature activates the chemical and creates an explosive reaction, rupturing the metal cases and deploying the airbag. Examples of these states are Florida, Hawaii, South Carolina, and Georgia.
What should I do if my car is affected?
First, call the car company and ask for instructions. The airbag replacement is free of charge. However, you have to pay for repairs should there be other defects found in your car aside from the airbag. Next, don’t use your affected vehicle until the repair is complete. You may carpool with a friend or if possible, rent or borrow someone else’s. This is better than taking the risk of driving your car.
This information has been brought to you by the experienced car accident attorneys at Wilshire Law Firm. If you or someone you love has been injured due to a defective Takata airbag, please contact us for legal assistance.FREE 24/7 Consultation