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Takata Recall: Defective Airbags Cause Severe Injuries, Death

Takata Airbag Injuries: Hundreds Injured

Injuries: If you suffered one of the following injuries after a Takata airbag explosion in a collision, you may have a claim for compensation:

  • facial injuries
  • traumatic brain injury
  • brain bleeding
  • death

Learn more from our attorneys with our Airbag Recall List.

Litigation Status: Active
Accepting Clients: Yes
Content Author: Laurence Banville
Edited By: Emily Smith
Published: 0909/1919/16161616
Fact checked on: 0909/1919/16161616Resources Cited in this Article
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Takata Airbag Recall: Injuries To Owners

More than 70 million vehicles have been recalled over defective Takata airbags, which can suddenly explode during a collision.

  • Hundreds of vehicle owners severely injured
  • At least 14 deaths linked to Takata airbags

If you or a loved were injured by a defective airbag, you may be entitled to significant financial compensation. Takata has already settled numerous personal injury lawsuits. Get your FREE consultation to see if you qualify.

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Takata Airbag Recall Attorney: 70 Million Vehicles Recalled Over Takata Airbags

Up to 70 million faulty Takata airbags have been recalled, in what government regulators are calling the largest and most complex safety recall in US history.

Millions of drivers have been instructed to return their cars immediately for repair or replacement. Estimates suggest that 1 out of every 8 cars in America are installed with one of Takata’s defective airbags, with vehicles from over 30 of the world’s most popular vehicle manufacturers affected. But in many cases, the damage has already been done. At least 14 drivers have been killed, according to the New York Times, after an airbag exploded upon impact, shooting metal shrapnel towards unsuspecting occupants. More than 100 others have suffered severe injuries.

After Takata Explosions, Injured Drivers File Lawsuits

With reports that Takata concealed critical safety information from government regulators, injured victims have begun to file personal injury lawsuits against the company. Legal experts say that many of these lawsuits – most of which involve catastrophic injuries or death – have already been settled by Takata.

For current drivers, the risk of serious injury – even death – remains extremely high. Laboratory tests performed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Association show that in older vehicles, up to 50% of Takata airbags will rupture.

Takata Airbag Lawyer: Which Vehicles Have Been Recalled?

Takata’s massive airbag recall has touched nearly every major vehicle manufacturer in the world, including models made by:

  • Acura
  • Audi
  • BMW
  • Cadillac
  • Chevrolet
  • Chrysler
  • Dodge / Ram
  • Ferrari
  • Ford
  • GMC
  • Honda
  • Infiniti
  • Jaguar
  • Jeep
  • Land Rover

Wrongful Death Lawsuits Filed Over Takata Explosions

As the recall moves forward, injured drivers and passengers have begun to file lawsuits, both against Takata and vehicle manufacturers like Honda. The cases have been consolidated for coordinated pre-trial proceedings in the US District Court for the Southern District of Florida. In Miami, the lawsuits have come under the guidance of Judge Federico A. Moreno.

With at least 14 fatalities reported so far, surviving family members have also begun to initiate legal actions of their own – pursuing financial compensation for ongoing emotional trauma, funeral expenses and other costs associated with the loss of a loved one. Several families have already sued Takata, accusing the company of concealing evidence from regulatory officials and the public, while pushing an airbag with known defects into vehicles around the globe.

Takata Endangered Lives To Cut Costs, Families Say

Where Takata airbags are concerned, the risk of serious injury or death seems to be extraordinarily high. Even minor collisions can lead to a devastating explosion. In fact, recent lawsuits claim that Takata-made airbags can explode in the absence of a collision. In one complaint, filed on August 15, 2016, a woman says that her vehicle’s airbag detonated as she was turning the ignition key.

At bottom, the problem with Takata’s airbag appears to lie in a callous search for profits – at the expense of human life. In an effort to cut costs and attract large auto manufacturers, the company replaced the stable chemical compound used in its airbag inflators with the extremely volatile ammonium nitrate.

Explosions Blamed On Cheap, Volatile Compound

Today, we know that Takata’s airbags blow up after this volatile propellant has been allowed to degrade, creating forceful pressure and leading to an explosion. But even in the late 1990s, engineers at Takata were worried about the switch to ammonium nitrate. Speaking to the New York Times in 2014, former engineer Mark Lillie said that “despite the dangers associated with [ammonium nitrate], considerations over cost spurred [Takata]” to use the compound. Takata changed to ammonium nitrate, Lillie claims, in the face of evidence that ammonium nitrate could generate gases so quickly that the airbag’s inflator would explode.

Takata is still using ammonium nitrate to manufacture new airbags, although the company has assured government regulators that the addition of a moisture-absorbing chemical will be able to avert further tragedy.

The risk of explosion is highest, according to the NHTSA, in areas of the country that register high humidities, like the Gulf Coast states:

  • Florida
  • Texas
  • Louisiana
  • Mississippi
  • Alabama
  • Southern California

At least two fatal crashes have been reported outside of the United States. Both accidents occurred in Malaysia, a tropical climate where average humidities vary from 84% to 88%. In one of these deadly cases, surviving family members filed suit against Takata and secured a confidential settlement in 2015.

Takata has been the subject of a federal criminal investigation since 2014. In late 2015, the company was fined $70 million and ordered to eliminate ammonium nitrate from new inflators. Months earlier, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had imposed a daily fine of $14,000 on the company for failing to cooperate with the agency’s investigation.

Who Can File A Takata Airbag Injury Lawsuit?

Anyone who was injured by a Takata-made airbag may be eligible to file a lawsuit against the company. In the event of a loved one’s death, family members may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit against Takata.

Is your car part of the Takata recall? The vast majority of Takata airbag lawsuits have been filed over catastrophic injuries or deaths. While most of the reported explosions have occurred during collisions, including minor accidents, reports of spontaneous airbag ruptures have also surfaced.

Our experienced product liability attorneys are now investigating potential Takata airbag explosion lawsuits. We offer free consultations to anyone who believes that their own injuries, or those inflicted on a loved one, may have been caused by one of Takata’s dangerous airbags.

Takata Settlements In Wrongful Death Lawsuits

While attorneys believe that the litigation against Takata has only just begun, the company has already settled a majority of the wrongful death lawsuits. By December 4, 2015, the company had settled six out of the eight then-filed wrongful death actions. Honda, too, “has been working to settle claims quickly,” Automotive News writes.

In July 2016, the company reached an undisclosed settlement agreement with the family of a 77-year-old woman, according to Reuters. After a Takata airbag exploded violently during a minor collision, she lived for two years as a quadriplegic, until succumbing to complications in 2016. As part of the settlement, the family agreed to withdraw its request to have Takata’s chief executive, Shigehisa Takada, deposed.

International Victims Can File Lawsuits

Thus far, 10 fatal accidents have been reported in the United States. Another 4 drivers in Malaysia were killed by exploding Takata airbags, according to the New York Times.

Victims who were injured outside of the United States have every right to file a lawsuit against Takata in a US court of law, as do surviving family members.

In fact, the very first wrongful death lawsuit over the company’s deadly airbags was filed on behalf of a Malaysian woman and her unborn child. As the lawsuit alleged, the woman was killed when a Takata airbag violently exploded in her car. The vehicle, a 2003 Honda City Car, was not under recall at the time. Her child was delivered, but died only days later. Takata ultimately settled the case for an undisclosed amount.

Takata Recall Delayed For Years

The first recall, issued voluntarily by Honda in November of 2008, was limited to just 4,000 Accord and Civic vehicles. Despite acknowledging that the inflators in Takata airbags could rupture violently, the company only expanded its recall in 2010.

After a series of explosions, which left drivers severely injured, Honda expanded its recall again, adding thousands of Acura vehicles to the mix. By 2013, Toyota, Nissan and Mazda had issued their own recalls, asking vehicle owners to return an unprecedented 3.4 million vehicles worldwide. BMW followed soon after, with Toyota ramping up its own efforts.

But Takata was still unwilling to join the global effort, refusing to issue a recall of the airbags themselves. In the face of all signs to the contrary, Takata announced that there was no indication of a safety defect on June 11, 2014. Only 15 days later, the company’s CEO would apologize to shareholders – but not the public – for Takata’s falling stock price.

Airbag Risks Known In 2004, Former Takata Employees Say

Takata only acknowledged that its airbags were defective in May of 2015, nearly 7 years after Honda had announced the first recall. But recent investigations suggest that company officials, along with executives at Honda, were well aware of the airbag risks for more than a decade.

In 2004, a Takata-made airbag ruptured in Alabama, spraying the vehicle’s occupant with metal fragments. Alarmed by reports of the incident, Takata employees went out and found 50 airbags sitting in US scrapyards – hoping to test the airbags’ structural integrity. These tests, according to a damning New York Times report, were kept secret, conducted after work hours and on weekends at the company’s American headquarters in Michigan.

In at least two of the tested airbags, the inflator cracked violently, creating conditions for a devastating rupture. But instead of reporting the potential defect to federal regulatory officials, executives at Takata “ordered the lab technicians to delete the testing data from their computers and dispose of the airbag inflators in the trash,” former employees told the Times.

Last-Minute Settlement In Quadriplegia Death Case

On July 15, 2016, word broke that Takata had settled another lawsuit. The company has been quick to settle most injury and death lawsuits, but legal observers weren’t sure how the company would respond to a case that did not involve an outright explosion.

Patricia Mincey was paralyzed from the neck down, becoming a quadriplegic, when a Takata airbag violently inflated and crushed her spinal cord. The car Mincey was driving, a 2001 Honda Civic, was recalled only four days after the crash, according to Reuters. She died in April, of complications related to her quadriplegia.

Resolution Averts Takata Executive’s Testimony

In her lawsuit, Mincey said that Takata had knowingly manufactured defective and dangerous airbags. Recent investigations have added support to these allegations, revealing that Takata, along with major auto manufacturer Honda, were aware of the airbag’s dangerous defects long before the recall began. But questions remain as to what the company’s senior management – especially chief executive Shigehisa Takada – knew.

Takata “has been keen to keep Mr. Takada, a grandson of the company’s founder, out of the spotlight and away from depositions,” the New York Times reports. But at least a dozen other Takata officials were deposed in the course of Mincey’s lawsuit. Mountains of internal documents gathered during pretrial proceedings suggest that Takata engineers fabricated safety test results, while the company’s financial officials coldly weighed the costs of a recall against the benefits such an action would have for public safety.

Takata settled Mincey’s lawsuit only moments before a court hearing in which the company’s chief executive, Shigehisa Takada, could have been ordered to testify. The settlement amount has not been disclosed.

Older Honda & Acura Vehicles: 50% Risk Of Rupture

New experimental tests have revealed that a “particular subset” of faulty Takata airbags pose a far greater risk of exploding, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports. Airbags installed in the following cars could “rupture” in up to 50% of accidents:

  • Honda Civic (2001 – 2002)
  • Honda Accord (2001 – 2002)
  • Honda CR-V (2002)
  • Honda Odyssey (2002)
  • Honda Pilot (2003)
  • Acura TL (2002 – 2003)
  • Acura CL (2003)

As of June 30, 2016, 80% of the fatal crashes involving Takata’s defective airbags had occurred in one of these older vehicles.

Following the results of newly-performed tests, the NHTSA writes that “the air bag inflators in these particular vehicles contain a manufacturing defect which greatly increases the potential for dangerous rupture when a crash causes the airbag to deploy.” While the affected vehicles were recalled between 2008 and 2011, and at least 70% of the Honda cars have already been repaired, around 313,000 of these extremely-dangerous vehicles are still on the road.

Owners of the vehicles have been instructed to contact their closest dealership for an immediate repair at no charge.

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