Takata Recall Lawsuits
As of December 2014, nearly 20 million vehicles had been recalled worldwide due to defective Takata airbags. At least five people have died and over 100 have been injured when the airbags, instead of deploying as they were supposed to, allegedly exploded and sent shards of metal and plastic into the interior of the vehicles. These fragments have allegedly hit victims in the face, neck, eyes, and nose, causing serious and sometimes fatal injuries. Takata now faces increasing litigation as those who were injured because of alleged Takata airbag dangers—or who lost family members to airbag-related deaths—file Takata personal injury lawsuits in an attempt to recover damages. At least six Takata airbag class action lawsuits have also been filed on behalf of customers who bought vehicles containing Takata airbags, and now face economic losses because of the diminished value of the vehicles.
Company Resists Nationwide Takata Airbag Car Recalls
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) called for a nationwide recall of all Takata driver’s side airbags in November 2014, but Takata resisted complying with the demand, stating that such an expansion would put certain car owners living in humid climates at risk. Internal tests by the company indicated the airbags were more likely to malfunction under conditions of high humidity. Takata has since focused recall efforts in areas like Florida, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico. Critics have claimed such a restricted recall leaves many drivers at risk, as some Takata airbags have allegedly exploded in drier climates like California and Oklahoma. Drivers may also move to other locations, or experience humid conditions in an otherwise dry state. Meanwhile, many auto manufacturers, including Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Chrysler, and more, have expanded their own worldwide vehicle recalls to replace potentially defective Takata airbags.
Company Aware of Takata Airbag Dangers
The government has pushed for a criminal probe into Takata’s handling of the issue, particularly after a New York Times report revealed evidence that suggested the company purposely concealed evidence suggesting the airbags were defective. In addition to the potential criminal probe, Takata is already under investigation by the NHTSA to determine how much the company knew about the defects, and when. The company claims it still doesn’t know exactly what is causing the airbags to malfunction. Preliminary tests and other evidence have revealed some clues:
- Humidity: In a June 2014 letter to the NHTSA, Takata explained that exposure to high levels of humidity, in conjunction with potential “processing issues during certain manufacturing time periods” may have caused the airbags to degrade over time, affecting stability during deployment.
- Manufacturing problem: According to Consumer Reports, Takata has told carmakers that airbags made over a range of dates could potentially be defective because of manufacturing problems.
- Propellant: According to a New York Times report, in 2001, Takata switched to “ammonium nitrate” as a propellant in their airbags—a substance known to be highly sensitive to temperature changes and moisture content. According to the report, two former Takata employees questioned the switch, noting that ammonium nitrate was risky and prone to exploding.
Which Cars Have Takata Airbag Recalls?
According to AutoWeek, as of December 10, 2014, the following manufacturers all have vehicles that have been affected by Takata Airbag car recalls. The NHTSA also has an online tool where you can put in your VIN and find out if your vehicle is affected.
- BMW: 2000–2005 3-series sedan, 3-series sports wagon; 2000–2006 3-series coupe and 3-series convertible; 2001–2006 M3 coupe and M3 convertible.
- Chrysler: 2003–2008 Dodge Ram 1500; 2005–2008 Dodge Ram 2500, Dodge Durango, Dodge Dakota, and Chrysler 300; 2006–2008 Dodge Ram 3500, Dodge Ram 4500; 2008 Dodge Ram 5500; 2007–2008 Chrysler Aspen
- Ford: 2004 Ranger; 2005–2006 GT; 2005–2007 Mustang
- General Motors (GM): 2003–2005 Pontiac Vibe; 2005 Saab 9-2X
- Honda: 2001–2007 Honda Accord; 2001–2005 Honda Civic; 2002–2006 Honda CR-V; 2003–2011 Honda Element; 2002–2004 Honda Odyssey; 2003–2007 Honda Pilot; 2006 Honda Ridgeline; 2003–2006 Acura MDX; 2002–2003 Acura TL/CL; 2005 Acura RL
- Nissan: 2001–2003 Nissan Maxima; 2001–2004 Nissan Pathfinder and Infinity I30/I35; 2002–2004 Nissan Sentra; 2002–2003 Infinity QX4 and Infinity FX
- Mazda: 2003–2007 Mazda6; 2004 B-series Truck; 2004–2005 MPV; 2004–2008 Mazda RX-8; 2006–2008 MazdaSpeed6
- Mitsubishi: 2004–2005 Lancer; 2006–2007 Raider
- Subaru: 2003–2005 Baja, Legacy, and Outback; 2004–2005 Impreza
- Toyota: 2002–2005 Lexus SC, Toyota Sequoia, and Toyota Tundra; 2003–2005 Toyota Corolla Matrix
It’s important to continue to check with your vehicle’s manufacturer, as there may be more recalls implemented in the future. Honda, for example, has indicated it may perform a worldwide recall of Takata airbags.
Takata Injury Lawyers Ready to Help
If you or a loved one was serious hurt or killed in an accident involving a Takata airbag, you may be eligible to file a personal injury lawsuit in an effort to recover damages. A successful case could result in funds that would help cover medical bills, physical therapy, medication costs, lost wages, future lost wages, and more. At Chaffin Luhana, we have decades of experience in personal injury cases, particularly those where an auto or parts manufacturer was negligent in the design or manufacturing of their product. Contact us for a complementary evaluation of your case today.
The NHTSA is expanding the recall of Takata air bag inflators. There have been 28.8 million inflators already recalled and the administration expects an additional 35-40 million more through December 2019.
Make sure to go to safercar.gov to sign up for the latest recall alerts as the expansion takes place.
Earlier this year, founding partner Eric Chaffin was featured on CBS Pittsburgh’s The Sunday Business Page to discuss the massive Takata airbag recall.