Defective Airbags Are Exploding, Causing Serious Injury to Drivers
Honda, Toyota and Nissan are Involved in one of the largest auto recalls in history, 38 million vehicles.
In what is being referred to as the "largest auto recall ever," the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has announced that as many as 38 million vehicles may be recalled in the coming months due to a very serious airbag malfunction.
Right now, the manufacturers that appear to be announcing the largest recalls of their models are Honda, Toyota and Nissan. However, authorities are waning that dozens of different vehicle models built between 2000 and 2011 may eventually be recalled as well. The scope of this recall could be either increased or scaled back pending a further investigation into exactly what models are at risk.
For now, the NHTSA urges vehicle owners to frequently visit this special website where car owners can search for their vehicle by VIN, or Vehicle Identification Number, to check if their car is affected. Car owners are advised to check this site on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, as more makes and models could be added as the investigation progresses.
The issue at the heart of this recall is an airbag inflator mechanism built by the Takata Corporation, the world's fourth-largest airbag manufacturer. This small device, located inside of the steering wheel, is designed to detect a collision and immediately release a gas that inflates the airbag. In functioning airbag models, the inflator is one of the most crucial components for ensuring that the airbag inflates properly and protects the driver and passenger from serious head and neck injuries.
Instead of functioning properly in the manner described above, Takata's airbag inflators have been found to literally explode upon impact. Takata's inflators not only fail to fill up the driver's airbag, they actually explode outwards with such force that shrapnel and metal pieces are sent flying into the faces of the vehicle's driver and front passenger. In a few particularly gruesome accidents involving these defective airbags, police have reported that drivers and passengers looked as though they were "shot or stabbed" in the face. This is a harrowing description of what can happen when defective products such as these are allowed to remain on the market rather than being removed as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Tragically, many victims of these defective airbags may have suffered simply because Takata Corp. has been resistant to admit any wrongdoing. At first, Takata tried to claim that this defect applied only to vehicle models in particularly humid climates, such as Malaysia, where at least one victim has been fatally injured by a defective Takata airbag. When it became clear that this was not the case, and that all Takata airbags carried this potential risk of harm regardless of climate conditions, Takata still attempted to avoid responsibility.
When the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) initially attempted to expand the airbag recall to include more vehicle models in more areas, Takata refused to give in, instead choosing to incur the maximum fine of $14,000 per day for failing to cooperate with a safety probe. Shockingly, rather than opting to assume their rightful responsibility for a defective and dangerous product and do the right thing for their customers, Takata Corp instead chose to do nothing and let their fine from the NHTSA accumulate. Since the NHTSA launched their investigation, Takata has allowed this running fine to reach the almost unbelievable amount of $1.2 million as of Tuesday, May 19th. For those keeping track, that is over 86 days of inactivity on an issue that is literally costing customers their very lives.
So far, at least five deaths in the U.S and one death in Malaysia have been linked to this particular malfunction with Takata airbags. Additionally, the Center for Auto Safety has reported at least 10 other serious injuries caused by this faulty product, including severe vision damage for one driver that was hit in the eye by a piece of shrapnel. The investigation is still in its early stages, and it is entirely possible that more victims will come forward as the recall expands.
When we are out on the roads, we put our very lives into the hands of the manufacturers responsible for creating the safety mechanisms in our cars. Airbags, seatbelts and brakes are meant to be the last line of defense that protects us from serious injuries in the event of a collision. When manufacturers instead release a defective product that does more harm than good for their customers, they must be held accountable for their actions.
Takata Corporation's actions in this case are inexcusable. Not only did they produce a dangerous and ineffective product, they have repeatedly attempted to avoid responsibly by not cooperating with the NHTSA's investigation. While they have chosen to remain silent on the issue, millions of consumers are currently at risk. If you or a loved one has been injured by a defective, dangerous or mislabeled product such as a Takata airbag, you will need an experienced Personal Injury and Product Liability attorney by your side.
Product liability cases are complex, and require an experienced Sacramento Product Liability lawyer to help protect your rights. It is important to hire a law firm that you trust to advocate for your rights as a victim. At Del Rio & Carichoff, Sacramento personal injury law firm, we have years of experience litigating complicated Product Liability cases. If we accept your case, we will work on your behalf to secure the maximum compensation you deserve.
Call Del Rio & Carichoff, Sacramento personal injury law firm todayfor a FREE, confidential consultation. We will help you understand the details of your case, and we will aggressively pursue your right to full and fair compensation.
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