Japanese airbag manufacturer Takata has issued a recall for vehicles containing another 3.3 million faulty airbag inflators, expanding the largest automotive recall in the history of the United States. According to an Associated Press news report, these most recent recalls include frontal airbags in certain 2009, 2010 and 2013 vehicles including those made by Honda, Toyota, Audi, BMW, Daimler vans, Fiat Chrysler, Mitsubishi, Jaguar, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, Nissan and Tesla.
The problem with these airbags seems to stem from the fact that Takata uses the chemical ammonium nitrate to trigger a small explosion and fill the airbags rapidly in the event of a crash. However, the chemical can deteriorate when exposed to high humidity and temperatures and burn too quickly causing a metal canister to blow up and hurl hot shrapnel into the vehicle compartment. So far, at least 20 have been killed worldwide and more than 180 injured.
Largest Auto Recall in U.S. History
Also, in this series of unprecedented recalls, 19 auto manufacturers have had to recall up to 69 million inflators. The problem led to a criminal conviction and fine against Takata and forced the company into bankruptcy protection. The recalls, being managed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, are being phased in over the next three years with a higher priority placed on older models in states with high humidity and temperatures, which are believed to be more vulnerable.
But, automakers have been slow to replace the potentially deadly inflators. As of Sept. 15, automakers had recalled 43.1 million inflators but had replaced only 18.5 million or 43 percent of what they had recalled. In the meantime, people continue to die as a result of these deadly auto defects.
If You Have Been Injured
Cars are still being sold and bought by individuals who have no idea they come with these defective airbag inflators. We’ve seen one case right here in California where a woman died after being hit by shrapnel from an inflator that was put in car her son had bought in an auction. There are still tens of millions of vehicles on our roadways that are equipped with these defective airbags, and that is an extremely frightening thought.
If you or a loved one has been injured as the result of a defective Takata airbag, it is important to understand that you do have legal rights. You may be able to sue the airbag manufacturer and the automaker for damages including medical expenses, lost wages, hospitalization, cost of rehabilitation, and pain and suffering. An experienced auto defect lawyer who has handled cases against large automakers on behalf of injured victims and their families can help provide more information about pursuing your legal rights.