Takata Airbags Class Action Lawsuit: What You Need to Know
Drivers and passengers who have been injured by defective Takata airbags are filing lawsuits, looking to hold Japanese auto safety parts manufacturer Takata accountable for their actions. This recall has been labelled “the largest and most complex safety recall in U.S. history” by the NHTSA and affects vehicles made by 19 different automakers, mostly from 2002 to 2015. Some of the airbags deployed at unsafe velocities, injuring or even killing passengers.
The culprit is the airbag’s inflator, which is essentially a metal cartridge that houses propellant wafers. If the airbag deploys with explosive force and the inflator housing ruptures in the crash, the passenger cabin may be suddenly filled with sharp metal pieces that can hurt or kill vehicle occupants instead of saving their lives.
These airbags use ammonium nitrate-based propellent without a chemical drying agent, which is the root of the problem. Factors like high temperatures, environmental moisture, and age are associated with the defect, which may result in harmful shrapnel flying throughout the vehicle in the event of a crash. Unfortunately, Takata has been aware of the problems with these materials in their airbags since at least 2004—but they didn’t address the issues until 2015, when it was far too late. The U.S. Department of Transportation slammed Takata with a $200 million fine for holding back information that could have prevented motorist harm, but by then, the bulk of the damage had been done.
Takata pled guilty to criminal misconduct in January 2017 and entered into a $1 billion settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice. $850 million of that settlement goes to automakers who have been impacted by these defective Takata airbags, and $25 million is a fine for the company’s egregious behavior. The remaining $125 million has been set aside for victim compensation.
So far, 16 people have died because of these airbags in the United States. Globally, NHTSA reports at least 24 deaths and 300 injuries. These statistics aren’t just terribly sad; they’re also completely unacceptable, and Morris Haynes is ready to seek justice for those who have been affected. To find out if your vehicle might be affected with these dangerous airbags, use the NHTSA’s VIN look-up tool.