This Sunday on The Sunday Business Page at 6:30am (Eastern Time), an interview will air with the founding partner Eric Chaffin of Chaffin Luhana , who is a former federal prosecutor and personal injury attorney about the prosecution of Takata for its recalled airbags, as well as the pending lawsuits against the company.
Last week Attorney General Loretta Lynch, announced a $1 billion settlement with Takata, the Japanese manufacturer of defective airbags. The settlement is the most recent action in what the NHTSA has called the “largest recall in U.S. History”. The ongoing recall entails approximately 45 million cars and the replacement of over 65 million or more airbags across various models produced by 19 different car manufacturers. Most of the cars impacted were sold between 2002 and 2015. Older model cars in humid “Zone A” states such as Florida and Georgia are at the highest risk according to the NHTSA. Pennsylvania is classified as a “Zone B”, but if motorists drive to warmer clients with affected vehicles, their risk is increased.
This case is a classic story of “Profits over Safety” and the cover up of the safety problem that has led to the largest recall in U.S. history, the indictment of three Takata executives and the guilty plea of the Takata Corporation. The problem is real and it impacts millions of consumers. 16 consumers have allegedly been killed and hundreds injured. The conduct at issue is to the executive level at Takata, signifying the depth of the criminal conduct at issue.
The defect in the airbags relates to ammonium nitrate cartridges that may spontaneously combust, or when they do go off in an actual accident they may break apart and project explosive shrapnel throughout the car or have a much higher impact than they should. In a sample test of about 30,000 recalled airbags, about 265 failed (0.88%), which is very high and unacceptable.
How to Determine if You Have a Defective Takata Airbag
Consumers should visit the public NHTSA website, which can be accessed via our page regarding the Takata Airbag Recall to confirm whether their car is recalled. If it is, they should immediately contact the manufacturer or local dealership and try to schedule a replacement of it. Unfortunately, there is not enough of a supply available to replace the over 60 million recalled airbags, so the wait for replacements can be very long.
Consumer advocate attorney and former federal prosecutor Eric Chaffin worked for Loretta Lynch when she was the U.S. Attorney in Brooklyn, NY. He now is a personal injury attorney with a national practice in NYC and Pittsburgh, and he represents a number of consumers around the United States who were injured by the recalled airbags. He has some practical advice for consumers who may have a car with a recalled Takata airbag:
- The older your car, the harder you should be pushing the manufacturer to have a replacement airbag installed.
- Pennsylvania and New York are not as high risk as other places according to the NHTSA but if you’re a snowbird and travel south to humid regions with your car, tell the manufacturer so you are moved up in priority.
- Try to minimize how much you use the car. If you have only a passenger side recalled Takata airbag, try not to have anyone ride in the front seat.
- If your driver side airbag is a recalled Takata airbag, try to minimize driving your car. Carpool, take public transportation or rent a car. If you need to rent a car, ask the manufacturer to pay the cost, to pressure them into getting your airbag replaced sooner.
- If you or a loved one has a recalled airbag that deployed and were injured, seek legal representation immediately as preservation of evidence is critical to the potential success of your legal case and receiving your compensation.
In all, if you own a car with a recalled Takata airbag, be prepared for significant inconvenience and ongoing safety concerns.