Tens of millions of motor vehicles equipped with Takata airbags have been recalled in recent years because these air bags can explode when deployed, causing serious injury, or in some instances even death to the occupants of a vehicle. Numerous major automakers, including Toyota, Honda, Acura, Nissan, Mitsubishi, BMW, Audi, Mercedez-Benz, Ford, Lincoln, Mercury, General Motors, Cadillac, Dodge, Chrysler, and others have issued recalls of their vehicles.
If you or a loved one was in an accident involving a defective airbag anywhere in Florida, contact Law Offices Cytryn & Velazquez, P.A. for a free consultation at 877-853-7466. Our attorneys have years of experience fighting for plaintiffs in product liability and personal injury cases throughout Florida.
Before filing for bankruptcy in 2017, Japanese automotive parts manufacturer Takata made airbags for a variety of motor vehicles. Takata airbags were placed in all types of vehicles, from sedans to SUVs, and millions of these vehicles were sold in states all across the United States.
The Takata airbags can fail and cause injury in a variety of ways. But the main problem concerns the airbag inflators. A chemical (ammonium nitrate) was placed in the airbag inflators in order to induce a small explosion that would inflate the air bags in the event of a collision. The basic problem is that the chemical can become unstable over time and after exposure to temperature fluctuations. This is particularly true for vehicles located in areas of constant high humidity. When the chemical becomes unstable, some airbag inflators may explode and send pieces of metal shrapnel throughout the vehicle, potentially leading to very serious injury and, in some terrible instances, death.
A separate problem with some airbags arises when the airbags actually deploy too slowly during a crash, or possibly underinflate when they deploy, and thus fail to be of help to a driver or passenger involved in a vehicular collision.
Recent Takata Airbag Recalls
In late November 2020, General Motors recalled 7 million pickup trucks and SUVs (6 million of which were in the United States) with airbags made by Takata due to potentially dangerous airbag inflators. This was one of the largest single manufacturer recalls in recent years regarding Takata airbags. But even before GM’s announcement, tens of millions of vehicles equipped with Takata airbags were recalled by automakers across the United States, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In fact, the NHTSA estimates that more than 63 million Takata airbags have been recalled because the airbags can potentially explode when they are deployed. This represents the largest airbag recall in history.
You can check whether your vehicle is under recall by visiting the NHTSA website and by typing in your vehicle’s VIN number on that page. Also, some of the automakers may have recall information available directly on their respective websites. You can go to the website of the company that made your vehicle, find the section of the site dealing with auto recalls and then type in the VIN number for your vehicle. The auto manufacturer may limit the information on the site regarding recalls.
You may also have learned your vehicle is under recall if the auto manufacturer mailed you a notice indicating the recall. It is unlikely that auto manufacturers had accurate addresses for all vehicle owners. So, some vehicle owners may not have received notices if the manufacturer had the wrong address for them, or they (the owners) moved. Thus, to be on the safe side, you should always start by checking the NHTSA website to see whether your vehicle is under recall due to possibly defective airbags.
The Danger Posed by Exploding Airbags
As of October 2020, at least 26 people have reportedly been killed worldwide due to exploding Takata airbag inflators, with 17 of those deaths reported in the United States alone. In addition to the potential for death, exploding airbags can result in serious physical injuries to anybody traveling inside the vehicle.
Some of these injuries include:
- Head trauma, including concussions or serious traumatic brain injury
- Facial and bodily lacerations, punctures, and wounds (especially when metal shrapnel is released from the airbag and flies at high velocity through the vehicle)
- Facial fractures
- Rib and sternum fractures
- Burns from chemicals released with airbag rupture
- Severe eye injury, including potentially blindness if shrapnel flies into a person’s eye
- Chest trauma and bruising
These are just some of the serious injuries that can be caused by defective airbags and airbag inflators. While airbags are obviously an extremely important safety device that can save lives and minimize physical injury to a person during a motor vehicle collision, unfortunately not all of the airbags in vehicles are manufactured, installed, or designed properly, And when a defective airbag explodes, it can potentially cause devastating and long lasting injuries to anybody traveling inside the vehicle.
Contact Our Office for a Free Consultation
Although Takata has declared bankruptcy as a result of its ongoing airbag-related troubles, financial trusts were established as part of the company’s bankruptcy plan for the purpose of compensating persons who have been injured or killed due to the rupture or aggressive deployment of a Takata ammonium nitrate airbag inflator. Additionally, in some cases, companies other than Takata may be liable for your injuries caused by a defective airbag inflator that caused an airbag to explode.
If you or a loved one has been injured due to an exploding airbag, whether it was an airbag that had an inflator that is part of the Takata recalls or not, contact our office to discuss your options. We represent clients throughout all of Florida, and our attorneys have decades of experience representing individuals who have been injured due to defective products. We offer free consultations, and you won’t even have to come into our office to talk with us. Our attorneys can discuss your case with you via phone (954) 833-1440 or video chat (like Zoom or FaceTime).