TAKATA AIRBAG RECALL
Takata Airbag Recall
Millions of Americans are driving vehicles with defective Takata airbags that can shoot metal shrapnel at the vehicle’s driver and passengers when deployed—— causing severe lacerations, loss of vision and even death. So far, several automakers have recalled at least 50 million airbag inflators (the largest automotive recall to date) due to the volatile chemical propellant, ammonium nitrate, which is used to inflate an airbag when a deployment signal is received. Takata used ammonium nitrate as the primary propellant for its airbags, which can become unstable over time or when exposed to moisture or extreme heat. This chemical instability causes a violent eruption during the airbag’s deployment that shatters the airbag inflator module, shooting jagged, metal shrapnel at the driver and passenger’s face, neck and chest.
These defective airbags have killed at least 23 people and injured hundreds more worldwide. The airbag is supposed to be a safety feature, designed to protect occupants in the event of the crash, but Takata airbags are putting people into a potentially lethal situation.
Despite the recent bankruptcy of Takata’s US based subsidiary, TK Holdings, Inc., there are three potential avenues for Takata airbag victims and future claimants to recover compensation for their Takata airbag injuries.
To learn which vehicles are among the millions of those recalled, what to do if you own one of those vehicles, and how you may be able to claim compensation if you were injured, please review the below.
Affected vehicles include various models made by:
If you or someone you know sustained lacerations that required stitches, hearing loss, a brain injury, broken bones or a skull fracture, loss of vision, nerve damage, or was killed in an accident involving a deployed airbag, do not hesitate to contact us today. Our lawyers may be able to help you hold Takata and the auto manufactures responsible for medical bills, pain and suffering and other losses. To discuss your legal options with someone at our law firm, call 844-679-4859 or fill out this form and we will get back to you as soon as possible.
What’s the Problem With the Airbags?
Over time, the propellant responsible for triggering inflation during a crash can deteriorate or become unstable, especially in states with high levels of humidity, including but not limited to Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Louisiana, Texas and Hawaii, according to the recalls.
In the event of a crash, the unstable propellant can rupture the metal inflators in the airbags and shoot metal pieces or shrapnel into the vehicle’s cabin, putting drivers and passengers at risk of serious injuries or death.
How do I Know if My Vehicle Has Takata Airbags?
You can check to see if your vehicle is subject to the recall by entering your VIN here.
If your vehicle is on this list and you or a loved one was seriously injured after the airbags deployed, you may be able to file a lawsuit against Takata.
I Was Injured by My Airbag: Can I File a Takata Suit and Claim Compensation?
Many of those injured by a Takata airbag can file a lawsuit to recover compensation. Some injuries people can recover compensation for include:
- Broken or fractured bones
- Facial or skull fractures
- Injury to pregnancy
- Larynx or vocal cord injury
- Loss of vision in one or both eyes
- Lacerations requiring stitches
- Permanent hearing loss or impairment
- Mild to severe brain injury
- Nerve damage
If you or someone you love suffered one or more of these injuries you may be eligible for compensation. There are three avenues for people injured by a Takata airbag to file claims for compensation. Some victims may only be able to recover compensation through one avenue, while other may be able to claim compensation from all three. The avenues for compensation are:
Takata Airbag Individual Restitution Fund: This fund was ordered by the Federal Court in the Eastern District of Michigan as a result of TK Holdings, Inc.’s criminal guilty plea for fraud. The fund contains $125 million for people who have suffered or will suffer personal injury or wrongful death due to a defective Takata airbag inflator and who have not previously resolved their claims against Takata.
Takata Bankruptcy Trust: This trust was created as part of TK Holdings, Inc. bankruptcy plan for the benefit of personal injury claimants. The trust is for those previously injured by a Takata airbag and for future victims. The fund’s estimated value is $90 million to $137 million, although that amount may increase, but will not decrease. The trust should begin accepting claims in approximately mid-2018.
Participant Original Equipment Manufacturer (“POEM”) Fund: So far, only those individuals who have been injured by a Takata airbag within a Honda or Acura vehicle are eligible for compensation from this fund. Honda vehicles caused more injuries and deaths than any other of the car manufacturers combined. Through this fund, those previously injured by a defective Takata airbag and those victims who will suffer injuries from a Takata airbag may receive compensation.
Morgan & Morgan attorney Andrew Parker Felix was recently appointed as one of three members for the Trust Advisory Committee (“TAC”). The TAC will represent the interests of those individuals with Takata airbag claims, coupled with administration of the three funds. The TAC members were selected along with the Special Master, Eric Green and the Future Claimants’ Representative, Roger Frankel, to represent the interests of those victims with current and future personal injury and wrongful death claims related to a Takata airbag.
What Damages Can I Recover in a Lawsuit?
By filing a lawsuit, you may be able to collect compensation for any losses stemming from your injuries. For instance, you may be entitled to compensation for:
- Past and future medical bills
- Lost wages
- Special accommodations, such as home health care aides
- Pain and suffering
If you are acting on behalf of a loved one who suffered fatal injuries from a Takata airbag, you and your family may be entitled to additional compensation for:
- Funeral expenses
- Loss of companionship or consortium (marital benefits)
- Loss of support and services
Each case is different, however, and the type and amount of compensation you could recover will vary depending on a number of factors, including your relationship to the deceased.
How Much Does a Lawyer Cost?
Our attorneys only collect a fee if they successfully resolve your case. If so, they will receive a portion of the final settlement or jury verdict.
If you or a loved one suffered serious injuries after your vehicle’s airbag deployed, don’t hesitate to contact us today. It’s important that you speak with a Morgan & Morgan products liability attorney as soon as possible to ensure that your legal rights are protected and you don’t lose out on the opportunity to receive compensation for your Takata airbag injuries. Morgan & Morgan lawyers Andrew Felix and Mike Morgan are handling these cases nationwide. For more information, call us at 844-679-4859 or fill out this form.
Takata Airbag Frequently Asked Questions
Nineteen automakers have recalled cars and trucks to replace airbags made by parts supplier Takata, part of what the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has called “the largest and most complex safety recall in U.S. history.” The Takata recall has been so long-running that many consumers have started to tune out the seemingly endless waves of updates and expansions. But Takata airbags are a serious threat to safety. You should know if there is a problem with your vehicle’s airbags, how to get it fixed, and what to do if you’ve suffered harm. To help you stay informed, we’re providing answers to frequently asked Takata airbag questions.
What is the problem with Takata airbags?
All airbags use controlled explosions because they must inflate in milliseconds during a crash to protect vehicle occupants. The inflators use chemicals called propellants, which generate the explosion that fills the airbag. The problem with Takata airbags has to do with their propellant. The chemical — ammonium nitrate — can degrade after prolonged exposure to high heat and humidity. This can cause the chemical to destabilize and explode with excessive force during a crash, rupturing the inflator housing and sending shrapnel into the cabin.
How many airbags have been recalled?
Around 42 million vehicles and 56 million inflators (both driver and passenger) are under recall. The recalls have come in phases. They began in 2016 and are scheduled through December 2019.
There’s a chance, however, that additional recalls will be announced beyond 2019. Approximately 100 million Takata airbag replacement inflators could also be recalled if Takata is unable to prove they’re safe. The replacement parts contain a drying agent, or desiccant, that is meant to prevent the degradation of ammonium nitrate. Nearly 3 million such airbags have already been recalled. One known injury is linked to desiccated Takata airbags.
How many deaths and injuries have been caused by Takata airbags?
Takata has been blamed for 17 deaths in the U.S. related to airbag explosions. At least 250 injuries have been linked to exploding Takata inflators. These numbers are higher when injuries and deaths worldwide are taken into account.
Is my vehicle affected?
Although vehicle manufacturers have sent out recall notices to affected owners, the messages have not always gotten through. Others have been ignored. You can find out if your automobile is included in the Takata recall by visiting nhtsa.gov/recalls and entering its 17-digit vehicle identification number.
What corrective action is being taken?
Dealers are repairing faulty airbags free of charge to owners. Some owners have had to wait because of replacement part shortages, but the NHTSA reports that shortages have eased significantly. Contact your local dealer to determine a specific repair timeframe.
Are some airbags more dangerous than others?
Yes. So-called Alpha airbags, installed in certain 2001-03 Honda and Acura vehicles, as well as 2006 Ford Rangers and Mazda B-Series trucks, have a far greater risk of exploding. The NHTSA warns that owners should not drive these vehicles unless they’re going straight to the dealer for repairs.
In addition, your airbag could be more likely to explode depending on where you live and the age of your vehicle. The recall schedule is organized according to three zones: Zone A (hot and humid), Zone B (less hot and humid), and Zone C (least hot and humid). These areas are based on the finding that Takata’s airbag propellant degrades when exposed to heat and humidity. This NHTSA document explains recall priority groups.
Should I stop driving my car until it’s fixed?
Unless you own one of the Alpha models noted above, you shouldn’t necessarily stop using your car due to pending repairs. If you feel uncomfortable continuing to drive your vehicle before it’s fixed, contact your dealer to see if it will provide a loaner in the meantime, but keep in mind that it is not required to do so. Other interim possibilities for concerned owners include minimizing your driving, carpooling with someone whose car isn’t affected, using public transportation, and renting a car.
Am I eligible for legal action against Takata?
If your Takata airbag deployed and injured you, it may be possible to file a lawsuit. Usually, these cases also bring claims against auto manufacturers. Injuries attributed to exploding Takata airbags include cuts/lacerations, eye injuries, burns, bruises, facial and cranial fractures, broken bones and teeth, neck and back damage, head/brain trauma, permanent scarring, and death. Police who responded to the scene of one accident thought the victim had been shot in the face due to the gruesomeness of the airbag injuries.
Importantly, it does not matter how the accident occurred. Even if you were at fault in the crash, if the airbag malfunctioned and injured you, you could be entitled to compensation for medical bills, lost wages, physical and mental pain and suffering, vehicle and property damage, and other losses.
Airbag injuries sometimes result from nondefective airbags due to the inherent force of their deployment. It is therefore important to get an attorney to review your claim.
Aside from personal injury litigation, several manufacturers have settled an economic-loss class action lawsuit. Visit this settlement website to find out if you qualify for payment.
Takata and Honda have established funds to pay airbag victims. Compensation funds typically offer one-time payments to claimants, who in exchange waive their right to take further legal action.
How can an attorney help?
Takata has settled a number of injury lawsuits. Most of them are confidential, meaning the company does not have to disclose how much it paid the victim or release potentially damaging information.
Despite Takata compensation funds offering payment ranging from $10,000 (for injuries such as bruising) to $5 million (for death or loss of eyesight), victims who aren’t satisfied with their settlement offers can still take their cases to court.
During a free case review, our lawyers will explain your legal options and help you decide the best course of action. We can also file compensation fund or lawsuit claims on your behalf. Learn more during a no-cost, no-obligation case review.