The allegations filed against the Takata Corporation and the automobile manufacturers claim various things, according to The New York Times:
- Takata produced defective airbags.
- Takata knew about the defects and continued to distribute the airbags.
- The automakers knew of the defects and continued to outfit their vehicles with the airbags.
These airbags are the focus of the nation’s largest automotive recall to date. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates there will be between 65 and 70 million Takata airbags recalled by December 2019.
The Allegations Against Takata
Takata faces legal challenges based on injuries allegedly sustained from defective airbags, in addition to a class action filed by the owners of vehicles equipped with the company’s airbags.
The injury lawsuits filed against Takata allege that its defective airbags caused or contributed to the injuries or wrongful death of car accident victims. According to CBS News, these airbags have led to 20 fatalities and almost 200 injuries as of December 20, 2017.
Many of these lawsuits center on serious injuries to the face, head, neck, and chest. The victims who survived their defective airbag’s deployment may suffer lasting injuries and impairments, and many required significant surgery or follow-up care. These lawsuits seek to recover compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and punitive damages.
Class Action Lawsuit
The class action lawsuit against Takata Corporation alleges the automotive parts company designed, manufactured, tested, and distributed millions of defective airbags. As one of the largest manufacturers of automotive safety products, Takata marketed airbags to a number of automakers, including Honda, Ford, Lexus, Nissan, Toyota, and others. Approximately 65 million of these units will face recalls for potential defects.
The Issue with Takata Airbags
In 2015, according to a New York Times report, Takata admitted its airbags had defects that could cause serious injury when they deployed. The issue lies with the chemicals used to inflate the airbag during deployment. The airbags in question use an ammonium nitrate-based propellent without a drying agent in their metal inflator cartridge.
Long-term exposure to heat and moisture can cause the chemical to degrade. When the chemical is ignited during the airbag’s deployment, the inflator can explode, sending shrapnel throughout the interior of the vehicle. When these shards of metal hit the driver, passenger, or other occupants in the car, they can cause serious injuries and even death.
Allegations Against Automakers
These claims and lawsuits also allege some automakers knew about the defects and continued to outfit their vehicles with the airbags because they were cheaper than competitors’, according to a report published in The Washington Post in 2017. The report includes allegations that at least two airbag inflators ruptured in tests at a Honda testing facility in 1999 and 2000, possibly indicating a defect almost a decade before the first death occurred in 2009.
When Did Takata Allegedly Know About the Problem?
It is unclear exactly when Takata knew about the potential issue with their airbag inflators. The lawsuits filed against the company allege it knew for some time before it notified the public or authorities about the possible risk. The lawsuits allege this put drivers at risk and could have played a role in some airbag-related injuries and deaths.
This possibility first came to the attention of the public when a 2014 report by The New York Times uncovered secret tests of Takata airbags. Employees of the automotive safety parts company, who talked to The New York Times anonymously, said there were tests conducted that showed potential risks with the airbag inflators as early as 2004.
Contact a Takata Airbag Attorney Regarding Your Airbag Injuries
If you suffered injuries or lost a loved one because of a defective Takata airbag, you may be eligible to file a lawsuit against Takata, your automaker, or other parties. At Newsome Melton, our product liability lawyers are standing by waiting on your call.
We offer free case evaluations and can help you recover the full value of the damages you deserve. We also operate on a contingency fee basis, so you pay no legal fees unless we win the payout you deserve.
Call us today: 888-808-5977.