Takata Airbag Injuries: Safety Concerns and Legal Options
Last updated Tuesday, January 16th, 2024
Are you concerned about the risk of injury from Takata airbags? These airbags have been linked to significant hazards due to defective inflators that can explode, causing metal fragments to become deadly shrapnel. With 26 deaths and over 400 injuries in the US alone, understanding the dangers, the extensive recalls, and your legal options is critical. This article provides everything you need to know about Takata airbag injuries, from the risks to your safety, to the breadth of the recall and the steps for legal recourse.
- Takata airbag inflators can explosively rupture due to a faulty propellant, potentially launching deadly metal shrapnel into vehicle compartments, causing fatalities and injuries.
- The Takata airbag recall is one of the largest in automotive history, affecting millions of vehicles globally and requiring extensive oversight by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
- Legal responses include the establishment of a $125 million Individual Restitution Fund and multiple class action lawsuits, offering compensation to individuals for injuries or purchases of vehicles with the defective airbags.
The Dangers of Defective Takata Airbags
Discussing the risks of defective Takata airbags fundamentally brings us to the issue with the metal airbag inflators. These inflators, filled with an unstable propellant known as Phase Stabilized Ammonium Nitrate, can explode, especially in high humidity and temperature conditions. This severe situation triggered the extensive Takata recalls, with the most affected states being:
- South Carolina
Such explosions can have disastrous consequences. When a Takata airbag inflator ruptures, it can propel metal shrapnel into the passenger compartment. This poses a significant risk of injury or fatality to vehicle occupants, turning a standard safety feature into a potential hazard.
Faulty Takata Airbag Inflators
The problem with Takata airbag inflators boils down to:
- The use of ammonium-nitrate-based propellant without a chemical drying agent
- This potentially hazardous combination can be triggered by various environmental factors
- Resulting in explosive ignition.
An inflator explosion causes the metal cartridge with the propellant wafers to rupture, producing lethal shrapnel. These fragments can pierce the airbag cushion and strike vehicle occupants, turning a lifesaving device into a lethal weapon.
Impact on Car Occupants
Defective Takata airbags, also known as faulty Takata airbags, have claimed lives and caused injuries. To date, there have been 26 deaths and more than 400 injuries in the U.S., and over 30 deaths worldwide linked to these incidents.
Should an airbag malfunction occur, it can launch metal fragments into the vehicle, injuring occupants like shrapnel. Both drivers and passengers can suffer serious injuries as a result of this potentially deadly explosion, emphasizing the importance of properly functioning passenger side airbags.
The Scope of the Takata Airbag Recall
The Takata airbag recall, a comprehensive safety initiative, has profoundly impacted the automotive industry. Under the watchful eye of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), this recall encompasses millions of vehicles worldwide, making it one of the largest in history.
The recall has reached far, affecting nearly three dozen carmakers, over 180 different models, and an estimated total of 35 million cars globally. Despite strenuous efforts to fix the issue, around 10 million Takata airbags were still unrepaired on roads by the end of 2020.
Affected Vehicle Models
The Takata airbag recall includes an extensive range of vehicles from various manufacturers, touching upon popular models and brands. The recall spans model years from 1995 to at least 2018 and includes:
- Pickup trucks
- Commercial trucks
High-risk models include certain 2001 to 2003 Honda and Acura models, the 2006 Ford Ranger and Mazda B-Series trucks, and the 1999 BMW 323i and 328i. Notable carmakers like Chrysler and Dodge have also been significantly affected, with several models from 2005-2010 included in the recall.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Role
The NHTSA, the U.S. road safety governing body, has a pivotal role in the Takata airbag recall. It’s responsible for managing and overseeing the recall, including issuing an Amended Consent Order to expand the recalls and imposing fines to ensure compliance by Takata.
The NHTSA requires manufacturers to provide detailed data on vehicle safety issues and recalls to guarantee compliance. If there are doubts about the adequacy of the recalls, the NHTSA has the authority to initiate investigations. In the case of Takata, the NHTSA has issued a Critical Do Not Drive warning for certain vehicles and directed manufacturers to expedite the remedy process for defective airbags.
Legal Implications of Takata Airbag Injuries
The aftermath of the Takata airbag crisis extends beyond safety concerns to substantial legal implications. Notably, Takata had to establish a $125 million Individual Restitution Fund to compensate individuals who suffered injuries or wrongful death due to the defective airbag inflators. Moreover, multiple class action lawsuits have been filed against Takata and the affected automakers, seeking compensation for those who purchased vehicles fitted with the hazardous airbags.
The IRF’s purpose is to compensate those impacted by the Takata airbag defect. Individuals who have sustained personal injury or wrongful death as a result of a Takata Airbag Inflator Defect are eligible to make a claim from this fund.
Individual Restitution Fund
The Individual Restitution Fund (IRF) was established to address claims related to injuries or fatalities caused by Takata’s airbags. The compensation provided is determined by the nature and severity of the injury, and may reach a maximum of $5 million for cases involving loss of vision or death.
To file a claim, individuals need to fill out an online claim form available on the fund’s official website. The payout from the IRF is determined by the IRF Methodology, which sets out procedures and standards for assessing personal injury and wrongful death compensation claims.
Class Action Lawsuits
In addition to the IRF, class action lawsuits have been filed against Takata and the affected automakers. These lawsuits aim to seek compensation for individuals who purchased vehicles equipped with the defective airbags.
Significant settlements have been reached in these class action lawsuits. These include:
- Ford’s class-action settlement agreement
- A $11.375 million settlement against Honda
- A $96.5 million settlement by Honda to resolve an investigation related to defective airbags
In response to these lawsuits, Takata Corporation has reached a settlement with the plaintiffs, which was approved by the Supreme Court of New South Wales.
Steps to Take if Your Vehicle Has a Defective Takata Airbag
If your vehicle has a potentially defective Takata airbag, immediate action is necessary. Here are the steps you should take:
- Check your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) on the NHTSA’s database to determine if your vehicle is affected by the recall.
- If your vehicle is affected, promptly contact your local dealership.
- Schedule a free repair for your airbag.
It’s vital to follow safety measures while awaiting the repair. Refrain from using the front passenger seat, especially if advised by the manufacturer. Contact your dealership to determine the level of risk associated with your vehicle and prioritize the repair accordingly.
Checking Your Vehicle Identification Number
Locate your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) to ascertain whether your vehicle is affected by the recall. This number is typically stamped on the dashboard near the windshield on the driver’s side or on a sticker in the driver’s side door jamb. Once you have your VIN, enter it into the NHTSA’s recall database for confirmation.
Despite this, it’s possible that your vehicle may be part of a recall but does not appear in the NHTSA’s database. This can occur if your vehicle is part of a recently announced recall or if the recall is more than 15 years old. In such cases, it’s advisable to periodically check for updated recalls or subscribe to recall email notifications from the NHTSA.
Contacting Your Local Dealer
After confirming that your vehicle is part of the recall, you should reach out to your local dealer. Dealerships often have dedicated teams for addressing Takata airbag recalls. They will offer complimentary repair services and can provide detailed information on the recall and the necessary steps for repair.
To schedule a repair for a Takata airbag recall, follow these steps:
- Provide your local dealer with detailed vehicle information.
- Specify that the repair is for a Takata airbag recall.
- Repairs are usually scheduled during regular business hours, but some dealerships may offer appointments on Saturdays.
Safety Precautions While Waiting for Repairs
You must take safety precautions while your vehicle awaits repair due to a safety recall. For instance, if your vehicle is part of a ‘Do Not Drive’ warning, do not drive the vehicle and promptly get in touch with a dealer to address the recall.
When transporting children in a vehicle with a defective Takata airbag, it is recommended that:
- Children sit in the back seat
- If a child must be seated in the front, it is crucial to deactivate the airbags
- Always ensure that children are properly secured with seat belts.
Call Isaacs & Isaacs Takata Airbag Injury Attorneys for Help Now
If you or somebody you love is injured or killed by a deadly Takata airbag explosion, you may be entitled to compensation. Call Isaacs & Isaacs Personal Injury law firm at 800-333-9999, or fill out our form now to speak to an experienced and aggressive Takata airbag injury attorney without delay.
Isaacs & Isaacs has decades of experience in product liability cases, and we are passionate about making sure that people receive the maximum compensation they are entitled to when an unethical company injures and kills. We have a 99-percent success rate in recovering damages for our injured clients.
It won’t cost you anything to enlist our help. We will represent you on a contingency fee basis: if we don’t get you your money, we won’t get paid. Isaacs & Isaacs has recovered over $890 million in damages for victims in Kentucky, Indiana and Ohio.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much did people get for the Takata airbag settlement?
The “Per Vehicle Settlement Amount” for the Takata airbag settlement is $846.55, based on 24,482 valid claims received by the Administrator. This is the amount to be distributed to the claimants.
What cars are affected by Takata airbag?
The Takata airbag recall affects many vehicle models, leading to potential safety issues. It’s crucial for car owners to check if their vehicle is included in the recall and take appropriate action.
What defect was found in Takata airbags?
The defect found in Takata airbags is their inflators’ capability of bursting and sending shrapnel into passengers and drivers’ bodies, especially in humid conditions and regions.
Is my car part of the Takata airbag recall?
To find out if your car is part of the Takata airbag recall, simply visit NHTSA.gov/recalls and enter your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). This will let you know if your vehicle is included in the recall.
How many people were injured by Takata airbags?
In the U.S., there have been 19 fatalities and over 400 injuries linked to Takata airbags. Such incidents, although rare, have caused serious harm to individuals.