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Legal Blog

Defective Takata Airbags

Takata is one of the three largest manufacturers of airbags worldwide and it is estimated that 20% of the world’s airbags are made by the company. Following pressure from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Takata has recalled more than 30 million vehicles so that frontal airbags can be replaced. The recall involves 12 different automakers and Mazda just recently announced that it would be expanding its recall to 374,519 vehicles. The NHTSA has an updated list of all makes and models impacted by the recall on their website. You can also see if your vehicle is included in the recall by searching the VIN number here.

What is the Problem with the Takata Airbags?

The defect, as detailed by a report published by the New York Times in 2014, occurs in the airbag’s inflator. When a crash occurs, a signal triggers the inflator, which contains a metal cartridge and propellant. The inflator, once triggered, sets off a chemical reaction that causes the propellant to burn and emit a gas that rapidly inflates and deploys the airbag. However, in the defective Takata airbags, the propellant ignites too fast and the inflator ruptures causing shrapnel to shoot out at passengers. The shrapnel can result in serious injury or death and the defective airbags have been found in both the passenger-side and driver-side airbags.

History of the Takata Airbag Crisis

Takata began manufacturing airbag inflators for the United States in 1991 and the company switched from using terazole as its main propellant, to ammonium nitrate in 2001. The first reported incident of a Takata airbag inflator rupturing occurred in a BMW car in Switzerland in 2003. The first incident in the United States took place in Alabama in 2004 and involved a 2002 Honda Accord. Three additional rupturing incidents occurred in 2007 and all involved Honda vehicles. The company incrementally expanded recalls among Honda vehicles following additional testing and the NHTSA opened its own investigation in 2009. By 2013, Takata had issued regional recalls, which involved additional automakers.

In 2014, the NHTSA sent Takata a letter demanding that the company acknowledge the defect and that they issue a national recall. The company refused citing that current data did not support such action. The following year, the NHTSA hit the company with a record fine of $200 million for violating the Motor Vehicle Safety Act forcing Takata to expedite the recall repairs. Since the initial incident in 2004, the defective airbags have been associated with eight fatalities and at least 139 injuries in the U.S. alone.

Consult an Experienced Houston Product Liability Attorney

Airbags are a safety feature that help save lives and reduce injuries, but a manufacturing or design defect could result in the product becoming dangerous. If you’ve been injured by a defective Takata airbag, contact the Houston product liability lawyers at The Krist Law Firm, P.C. for help. The Krist Law Firm, P.C. is a leader in product liability cases and has helped shape the law of crashworthiness in Texas, including the landmark case of Turner v. General Motors. Our skilled lawyers have represented numerous individuals in product liability cases in Texas and we will do whatever it takes to help you recover the compensation that you deserve.

Please contact our firm today at (281) 283-8500 to receive your free, individual, evaluation with one of our skilled Houston product liability lawyers.