Ford Motor Company has agreed to an “economic loss settlement” of $299.1 million covering at least 6 million U.S. vehicles with potentially faulty Takata airbag inflators. According to a Reuters news report, the settlement covers several forms of economic damages linked to the airbag inflators including claims that vehicles were inaccurately represented as safe, that buyers had overpaid for cars with defective airbags and had to pay out of pocket to deal with recalls.
Six other automakers – Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Mazda, Subaru and BMW – have agreed to pay out similar settlements worth more than $1.2 billion combined. So far, at least 23 deaths and about 290 injuries have been linked to the rupturing of faulty Takata airbag inflators. The issue has sparked the largest safety recall in auto industry history involving about 100 million inflators among 19 major automakers. The airbag inflators have ammonium nitrate in them, which could deteriorate particularly in hot and humid weather.
What the Settlement Covers
When that happens, the airbags could explode while deploying discharging metal shrapnel into the vehicle compartment. These pieces of metal have pierced drivers and passengers leaving them with injuries consistent with stab wounds. Many of these injuries have obviously proven fatal. To date, 21 of these deaths have been reported in Honda vehicles and two in Ford vehicles.
Ford’s settlement also covers out-of-pocket costs such as child care costs and lost wages for consumers who have to incur these expenses to get their vehicles repaired. Under this settlement, the automaker will also provide free rental or loaner vehicles to owners of the recalled cars who are awaiting repairs when parts are not available. So far, 30 million U.S. vehicles that have been recalled for these defective inflators still remain unrepaired. This massive recall caused Takata to file for bankruptcy protection in June 2017. The Ford settlement must still be approved by a federal judge.
Auto Product Liability Issues
Automakers not only have the responsibility to make vehicles that are safe for consumers, but they also have the duty to recall defective vehicles promptly and provide repairs at no cost to consumers in a timely manner. If you or a loved one has been injured as the result of a defective Takata airbag inflator, you may be able to seek compensation for damages including medical expenses, lost wages, hospitalization, permanent injuries, and pain and suffering.
Those who have lost loved ones as a result of these defective autos may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit seeking compensation. An experienced auto defect lawyer will be able to advise injured victims and their families regarding their legal rights and options.