Automotive Product Defect Cases – Takata Airbag Recalls
One of the nation’s largest recalls in history is the one that federal safety regulators have initiated urging automakers to recall vehicles that contain the driver’s side airbags made by the Japanese supplier Takata Corporation. These particular airbags have been known to explode during an excessive force deployment which leads to sharp particles being ejected along with the airbag causing severe injuries and deaths to drivers and passengers.
A new report indicates that three former National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) leaders and three other experts have joined an independent panel investigating this widening airbag safety problem found in the Takata airbags. The panel is headed by former U.S. Secretary of Transportation Samuel Skinner who was once Chicago’s chief federal prosecutor. Mr. Skinner had also been a White House Chief of Staff. The seven member panel will soon start reviewing Takata’s policies and procedures to try to find the reasons these airbags that are so widely installed in multiple vehicles around the world were made with the defective inflator piece that has the potential to explode and shoot shrapnel and drivers and passengers.
BMW has agreed to replace driver’s-side airbags nationwide. NHTSA has been pushing car manufacturers to recall older vehicles with airbag inflators made by Takata. BMW’s decision to recall its 3 Series cars made between 2004 and August 2006 was applauded as the right step to take. BMW recalled 574,000 cars in the U.S. in 2014.
A class action lawsuit is pending that has been pulled into the federal Multidistrict Litigation (MDL) system for discovery purposes. Some separate lawsuits have been filed against Takata, Chrysler Group LLC, BMW and the Ford Motor Corporation for injuries or deaths claimed to have been caused by Takata’s dangerously defective driver side airbags.
In the early part of the New Year 2015, Honda agreed to pay $70 million in fines because of NHTSA ’s claims that it chose to conceal or not to report more than 1,700 deaths and injuries over a 10-year period. NHTSA discovered this cover-up while investigating the Takata airbag crisis. U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, in a recently release statement said:
Honda and all of the automakers have a safety responsibility they must live up to — no excuses. Last year alone, we issued more fines than in NHTSA ’s entire history. These fines reflect the tough stance we will take against those who violate the law and fail to do their part in the mission to keep Americans safe on the road.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) expanded the vehicle recall regarding Takata airbags to include the entire United States. Originally the airbag defect was thought to be caused only in certain high humidity climates. The high humidity caused the airbags to malfunction.
At first the airbag defect recall was isolated in areas of the country that have exposure to high humidity. But now the NHTSA’s recall comes after recent airbag injuries and deaths occurred in places where the initial recall did not take place. The expanded recall will affect millions of motor vehicles manufactured by Ford, Chrysler, Mazda, BMW, Honda and others. Most of the model years are 2008 and earlier.
In lawsuits filed throughout the United States, it is alleged that Takata was aware that there was airbag defects as early as 2001. There was a recall initiated in 2001 as to exploding airbags in Isuzu vehicles.
Included today is a criminal investigation related to the defective airbags. It has been reported that five individuals have died because of exploding airbags. Takata Corporation has been ordered by the United States government to turn over documents that may reveal its early knowledge of the airbag defects.
If you or a loved one has had a vehicle airbag defect injury or death, please call us for an immediate free consultation.
Robert Kreisman of Kreisman Law Offices has been handling Chicago and Illinois automotive and motor vehicle defect cases successfully for more than 40 years.
Kreisman Law Offices has prevailed in trials and settlements in Chicago, Illinois and surrounding areas and successfully resolved cases for severely injured clients for over these many years including those who may have been injured by defective airbags.