Six people have died and at least 160 have been injured due to defective Takata airbags, marking one of the most serious and notable automobile product defects in existence today. In response, more than two dozen personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits have been filed, along with more than 70 consumer class action suits.
Takata Airbags Are Everywhere
Takata is one of the world’s largest airbag manufacturers. Takata airbags account for approximately 20% of all airbags produced and are installed in almost every major car brand. These airbags are installed in some of the most common automobiles on the road, such as the Honda Accord and Toyota Corolla. Thus far, more than 16 million vehicles have been recalled globally by 11 automakers due to a deadly defect in Takata’s airbags. Some popular car makers affected include, but are not limited to:
Click here to see a complete list of car make and models affected by the Takata airbag recall.
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Airbag Deployment Dangers
Tragically, Takata airbags are designed and manufactured in a way that makes them prone to explode upon deployment, sending shrapnel flying at high velocity throughout the cabin of the car. These defective airbags were developed in the late 1990s and placed in automobiles beginning in the 1998 model year. Takata designed these products to inflate by means of a small explosive encased in a metal canister. The compound and materials used in these airbags are thought to be particularly volatile.
In November 2014, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a nationwide recall of driver-side Takata airbags.
Airbag Malfunction Leads to Tragedy
The sixth and most recent death alleged to have been caused by Takata airbags occurred on January 18, 2015 in Houston, Texas. Carlos Solis, 35, died after his 2002 Honda Accord struck a vehicle at the entrance to a parking lot. Mr. Solis’s airbag deployed, and a piece of metal struck Mr. Solis in the neck. Mr. Solis was found at the scene with no signs of life and was later declared dead. According to photos of the crash posted online by the Montgomery County Police Reporter, the damage to Mr. Solis’s car was limited to the bumper. More than a week later, Honda confirmed that a Takata airbag ruptured in this fatal crash.
In October 2014, Hien Tran died after her Honda Accord struck another car in Orlando, Florida. According to reports, Ms. Tran’s airbags deployed, sending shrapnel throughout the cabin, striking the 51-year-old woman in the neck. The medical examiner said that Ms. Tran suffered “stab-type wounds” which cut her trachea—an injury that was not typical for a typical crash involving deployment of an airbag. Ms. Tran was wearing her seatbelt and there were no broken windows in her car.
While the NHTSA has issued its recall, and continues to investigate these deadly products, Takata has acted slowly in replacing the products. Millions of Takata airbags under the recall remain in cars on the road today. Thus, it can unfortunately be expected that the number of injuries due to these defective products will only grow in the coming weeks and months.
Know Your Rights
If you or someone you love has been injured or even killed due to shrapnel from a Takata airbag, Ashcraft & Gerel can help. Our dedicated team of auto liability attorneys is national leaders in product liability. We have the resources, experience, and determination to investigate and pursue claims against those responsible for your injuries. Please contact us online or call us at (866) 709-0505 for a completely free and confidential consultation with one of our lawyers today.