Japanese manufacturer Takata, after years of dragging its feet and concealing the problem from regulators and consumers, finally issued a recall of 4,000 exploding airbags in 2008. But the problem was much, much bigger. By last year, there would be 14 automakers involved in the recall of 24 million cars. Millions of those are still on the road, and now, more manufacturers and newer models are being added to the list, including late-model Hondas and Acuras, as well as Volkswagens, BMWs and Daimler AGs.
On top of that, two car makers have announced they will recall another 5 million globally for defective airbags supplied by German company Continental Automotive. That defect involves a corrosive element inside that could result in the airbag failing to deploy or deploying inadvertently.
Greenville car accident lawyers know that while some of these problems may cause a crash (i.e., an inadvertently deployed airbag), most are issues that are going to result in more serious injuries in the event of a crash. In the case of the Takta exploding airbags, hundreds of U.S. drivers have been seriously injured and at least 10 died when the devices exploded, hurling shrapnel directly into their face and body.
Perhaps the worst part is that in both cases, the manufacturers are alleged to have known about these problems long before they were brought to the attention of the public.
Takata, for example, recently agreed to a $70 million fine imposed by the U.S. Justice Department following a probe into the fact the company had known since as early as 2004 that the defect was present. As one independent auto safety expert quoted by The New York Times put it, “The pattern is conceal, delay, deny.” Had the issues been raised years ago like it should have been, manufacturers could have stopped this before these airbags were installed in millions of cars, putting countless lives at risk.
And then we have Continental Automotive Systems. According to federal regulation documents, the company was aware of a defect with the electrical component on some of its units since 2008. A spokeswoman for the company conceded the firm did know about a problem for some time, but shifted blame onto the vehicle manufacturers, saying they were the ones with the duty to initiate a recall. This ignores the fact that the supplier had a duty to inform U.S. regulators of the problem.
So vehicles associated with the Continental recall include 5 million Honda and Fiat Chrysler vehicles. There is also an investigation into whether Mazda and Volvo Trucks may need to be recalled.
The newly-expanded Takata recall includes certain Honda and Acura vehicles made between 2005 and 2016. This wasn’t entirely unexpected, as federal regulators said late last month they expected to add more than 5 million vehicles to the Takata airbag recalls, which was partially spurred by another traffic death attributable to the defect.
It’s possible another 4 million vehicles with Takata airbags could be recalled in coming months. They use a different type of inflater, but performed poorly on tests, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Among those were Toyota, Ford, Volkswagen, Audi and Mercedes-Benz.
Contact the Carolina injury lawyers at the Lee Law Offices by calling 800-887-1965.
Honda expands recall to 2.2M more U.S. vehicles, Feb. 4, 2016, By Kevin McCoy and Nathan Bomey, USA Today
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