The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued an urgent alert to consumers in 2014 about the risks posed by Takata airbags.
The airbags are featured in more than 50 models of vehicles, including cars, trucks, and minivans. Ten different manufacturers were affected. Nearly 8 million vehicles produced between 2000 and 2011 were part of the alert.
There have been at least four deaths and dozens of injuries linked to the malfunctioning airbags. According to reports, the airbags cause plastic and metal shrapnel to deploy into the faces of a vehicle’s driver and its passengers when it inflates.
There have been approximately 18 million Takata airbags recalled since 2008.
Takata Alerts Public to Airbag Dangers
Takata went public with news about its dangerous airbags in the spring of 2013. It alerted consumers that about three and a half million vehicles from six different manufacturers were affected.
A recall of about 850,000 vehicles followed. Another 650,000 additional vehicles were recalled in Japan in June of 2014. In the fall of that year, the largest Takata airbag recall became official.
According to information Takata provided to the NHTSA, the defective airbags stored ammonium nitrate, the chemical used to inflate the airbags, incorrectly. The report stated that excessive moisture was present in the airbags, which created an unstable environment for the ammonium nitrate, and when deployed, the airbag could fill too quickly, possibly burst, and discharge plastic and metal into the faces of those in the vehicle.
NHTSA Aware of Danger Before Recall Was Issued
The NHTSA was aware of the defective airbags at least several months before the final recall was issued. A letter submitted to the agency from Takata mentioned six incidents that might have been related to the defective airbags. The letter also called for only “regional recalls” in high-humidity areas.
It wasn’t until October 2014 that the NHTSA issued its consumer advisory and alerting owners of the affected vehicles of the potential danger.
Takata Involved in Past Major Recalls
This is not the first time the airbag manufacturer has been involved in a major recall.
In 1997, Takata had to replace defective seatbelts in approximately 9 million vehicles. At that time, it had been the largest recall of its kind and the NHTSA was publicly disappointed in how it was handled.
If you or a loved one was injured because of a malfunctioning airbag, or you own a vehicle affected by this recall, you might have a right to take legal action. Seeger Weiss is investigating the airbag recall and the safety risks these defective devices caused.
For more information, contact us today.