More than a decade after the first injury linked to Takata’s defective air bags occurred, the largest recall in U.S. automobile history is underway. An estimated 100 million vehicles across the world are being recalled altogether.
The air bag design flaw has led to 13 deaths, including 10 in the U.S., and more than 100 injures. The air bag was designed by Takata, a Japanese company founded in the 1930s.
The recall in the U.S. covers more than 60 million air bags in vehicles from Toyota, Telsa, Honda, Ford, BMW, and 12 other car companies. In other words, on in every five cars on the road in the U.S. are part of the recall.
Injuries and deaths caused by these air bags have triggered lawsuits against the manufacturer. These lawsuits allege that the manufacturer knew about the defective air bag design and failed to correct it or warn consumer of the potential danger.
The first lawsuit occurred after an air bag exploded in a Honda Accord in 2004, shooting out metal fragments and injuring the driver. Takata called the incident an anomaly and Honda settled with the driver for an undisclosed amount.
Years later a widely reported incident in 2010 grabbed the attention of many Americans, including regulators. In 2010, Kristy Williams stopped at a red light in Morrow, Ga., and the air bag in her 2001 Honda Civic deployed by mistake. The inflator exploded, and shredded metal hit Williams in the neck, severing her carotid artery. She stuck two fingers in the gaping wound to stop the bleeding as she waited for an ambulance. The blood loss led to several strokes, a seizure, and a speech disorder, according to a lawsuit she filed against Takata and Honda. The companies settled her case confidentially.
In a 2012 incident, Angelina Sujata was driving her 2001 Honda Civic at about 25 miles an hour near Columbia, S.C., when the vehicle ahead of her slammed on the brakes. The 18-year-old hit the car, and the next thing she remembers was feeling a sharp pain in her chest. “My chest was sliced open, down to the bone,” she said in an interview. She was taken immediately to the hospital, where a doctor pulled out several metal fragments. A year later Sujata received a recall notice in the mail about the defective air bag. Sujata filed a lawsuit against Takata and Honda and is waiting for a trial date.
In 2015 the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced a nationwide recall and criticized the air bag manufacturer for failing to act earlier.
“Takata provided inaccurate, incomplete, and misleading information to regulators for nearly a decade,” a NHTSA spokesperson said. “Takata could have prevented this from happening,” the spokesperson added, referring the global recall on the way.
Apart from the lawsuits filed against the air bag manufacturer by those injured, the NHTSA issued the company a $70 million fine. The U.S. Department of Justice also launched criminal investigation against the company.
The air bag recall is scheduled to be completed in 2019. In the meantime, Dr. Shezad Malik’s law firm is investigating injuries that may have resulted from these defective air bags. If you or a loved one was injured by an air bag, contact our office immediately.