Recently, concerns have been raised about the tens of millions of vehicles in the U.S. that have air bags manufactured by Takata which have not been recalled. Some air bags made by Takata have been found to have defective inflators, which can cause the air bag to rupture when deployed. When it ruptures, it can send metal fragments flying throughout the vehicle at high speeds. So far, there have been nine deaths as a result of ruptured air bags, and many injuries.
Since 2008, 14 automakers in the U.S. have recalled 24 million vehicles with these defective air bags. However, those recalls have not been done in an orderly manner, and there are still many vehicles on the roads with Takata air bags that have not been recalled.
In December, a man in South Carolina was driving a Ford Ranger when he struck a cow that was on the road. The crash was only moderate, but upon impact the driver’s side air bag exploded, sending metal fragments into his neck, killing him. The driver’s air bag in his vehicle had not been recalled, but the passenger’s air bag had been recalled. The driver’s air bag was not recalled because tests that had been done on inflators such as the one in his Ford Ranger did not show any failures. One theory about the air bags is that they are more prone to explode if they have spent a long time in an area with high humidity, and if they are in older vehicles.
Many safety experts and government officials are calling for a recall of all Takata air bags in the U.S. They say that the current recalls have confused consumers. In fact, for most drivers it can be difficult to tell if their vehicle has a Takata air bag – normally, they must either take the car apart to look, or ask the automobile manufacturer to disclose who made their vehicle’s air bag. Ford and GM have said they will not disclose whether or not a certain vehicle has a Takata air bag, if asked. Other companies will not discuss the issue.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration says that as of now, it’s not clear that a recall of every Takata air bag is justified. The NHTSA has given Takata until the end of 2018 to either solve the problem or issue a recall for all air bags. Takata says it is continuing to investigate the issue. Experts believe there are 50 million Takata air bags still on the roads today that have not been recalled.
Takata says that if a total recall is ordered, replacements cannot be manufactured quickly enough to satisfy the demand worldwide. So far, about 5 million inflators have been replaced. The low number of replacements is because of both the limited number of inflators, as well as the problem in convincing consumers to take their vehicles in for repairs.
Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for companies to make large profits in selling products to consumers, but to then refuse to issue a recall when the products are shown to be dangerous or defective. If a consumer is hurt or killed by a defective consumer product, the consumer and/or his or her loved ones have a legal right to compensation.
At Liberty Law, Micha Star Liberty and Seth I. Rosenberg believe that consumers who have been harmed by defective products should hold the manufacturer responsible. If you have been injured by a dangerous or defective product, call the San Francisco Defective Products attorneys at Liberty Law at 415-896-1000 or 510-645-1000. We work hard on behalf of our clients to ensure that they will receive the compensation to which they are entitled after an injury.