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One of the more troubling aspects of the Takata airbag recall is that the Japanese manufacturer apparently knew for years that it was selling a potentially defective automotive part.
In a detailed report, the New York Times explains that Honda, one of the first car makers to use the airbags in question, reported an explosion to Takata in 2004 and again in February and June of 2007.
In 2004, Takata reported back to Honda that it was unable to find a cause, the Times reports. In 2007, “again, the automaker did not initiate a recall or provide information about the ruptures to federal regulators.”
The Times also reports that Takata began secretly testing airbags in 2004, “four years before, Takata says in regulatory filings, that it first tested the problematic airbags. The results from the later tests led to the first recall over airbag rupture risks in November 2008.”
A Nissan executive quoted by Consumer Reports explains the safety issue with Takata airbags:
“The propellant could potentially deteriorate over time due to environmental factors [due to many years in high humidity conditions], which could lead to over-aggressive combustion in the event of an air bag deployment. This could create excessive internal pressure within the inflator and could cause the inflator housing to rupture.”
This rupture can cause shards of the inflator housing to fly toward the driver or passengers inside the car’s cabin.
Four fatalities and more than 100 injuries have been linked to the Takata air bags, according to Consumer Reports, and “in some cases, the incidents were horrific, with metal shards penetrating a driver’s face and neck.”
Since the problem became public, about 7.8 million vehicles made by 10 different automakers have been recalled to replace frontal air bags on the driver’s side or passenger’s side – or both.
Takata has insisted that the airbags are adversely affected by hot and humid weather and that regional recalls of cars in Southern coastal states, including Florida and other Gulf Coast states, is sufficient.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has called for a nationwide recall and ordered Takata to provide documents and detailed information on the propellant used in Takata’s inflators.
Takata has publicly conceded that it changed the chemical mix of its air bag inflator propellant in newly designed inflators.
The NHTSA has also asked for documentation from Takata and automakers of ongoing or planned testing of Takata inflators.
The manufacturers had until December 5 to respond to the NHTSA’s request.
Manufacturers have a duty to provide safe products to consumers. When they violate this trust, and people are injured or killed, manufacturers may be held liable for the harm they cause.
The law firm of Frank M. Eidson, P.A., is currently reviewing cases of injury caused by faulty Takata air bags. Our firm has experience in mass tort litigation that can be used to protect your rights throughout the legal process that will likely follow these revelations about Takata.
Contact us today if you need assistance with a faulty air bag claim.