Airbags made by major parts supplier Takata are being recalled because of problems that are occurring causing injuries to occur giving rise to product liability lawsuits.
Over 30 million vehicles made by 11 different automakers have been recalled to replace frontal airbags in these vehicles. The cars in question include model years from 2002 through 2008.
Per one automaker the propellant that is used in the airbag to make it inflate during an accident potentially deteriorates over time leading to over aggressive combustion in the event of an airbag deployment. This could cause the airbag as it inflates to rupture sending pieces of metal to shoot out of the airbags like bullets causing death and personal injury. There are cases of death and personal injury recorded regarding these airbags.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in February of 2015 began fining Takata $14,000.00 per day for not cooperating fully with the NHTSA investigation into the airbag problems.
In 2009 the NHTSA opened an investigation into Takata and the airbags and closed it 6 months later citing insufficient evidence.
The enormity of the recall raises problems for automakers and consumers as it will take time to replace all of these airbags that have drivers at risk driving these vehicles.
The legal ramifications of this situation to consumers consists of the following:
- Product liability cases against the manufacturer Takata based upon the negligent design and error in manufacturing causing the defects.
- The possibility of punitive or punishment damages in addition to product liability damages against Takata if it can be shown that Takata had prior knowledge of the defect and did not act on it.
- The possibility of lawsuits against automakers for utilizing these defective airbags resulting in further damages to parties that are injured or killed by the defects.