Airbags installed in vehicles are supposed to prevent injuries, not cause them. But that’s just what airbags produced by Japanese company Takata are accused of doing.
Defective Takata airbags can explode violently in a crash, causing serious injuries in otherwise minor collisions. As of 2021, at least 19 people in the U.S. had died and more than 400 had been injured by faulty Takata airbags.
And the dangers are far-reaching: defective Takata airbags may have been installed in as many as 100 million vehicles worldwide.
Takata Airbag Recall
As early as 2004, reports surfaced in the U.S. of Takata airbags exploding. The potentially fatal flaw is caused by the airbag’s propellant, which can degrade and cause the inflator to rupture explosively. As accounts of injuries and deaths came in over the next few years, automakers started recalling cars equipped with potentially faulty Takata airbags.
By 2014, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) finally ordered Takata to institute a nationwide airbag recall. The recall eventually extended to over 67 million airbags involving 19 different car manufacturers. The NHTSA called these the “largest and most complex vehicle recalls in U.S. history.”
And the bad news didn’t end there. Despite the massive recall, millions of cars with defective Takata airbags are still on the road today. A faulty Takata airbag was implicated in the death of a U.S. driver in 2021, many years after the recall.
Takata Airbag Lawsuits
Hundreds of people have filed lawsuits against Takata, claiming that they were injured by the defective airbags. The lawsuits allege that Takata airbags rupture dangerously when deployed, sometimes shooting metal shards into passengers, causing severe bodily harm.
Takata airbag injuries may include the following:
- Brain damage or concussion
- Serious cuts on the face, neck, throat, torso, or arms
- Fractures to the head, neck, face, ribs, or chest
- Excessive black eyes or other bruising
- Severe burns
- Metal shrapnel injuries
- Permanent scarring or other disfigurement
- Hearing, vision, or vocal damage or loss
- Complications from blood loss
- Injury to the fetus in pregnant women
With so many Takata airbag claims being filed around the country, many of these suits were consolidated into mass litigation. These lawsuits allege that the manufacturer knew about the potential dangers for over a decade before finally issuing the recall in the U.S.
Several multi-million-dollar settlements involving Takata and auto manufacturers have been reached or proposed. In 2017, the manufacturer admitted misconduct and agreed to pay a $1 billion fine, in part to compensate victims. Continue reading