Takata Airbag Recall Could Take 7 Years to Complete

Michael Bennett
December 19, 2016 - 64 Views

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) stated December 9 that it could take until 2023 before all Takata airbags can be repaired or replaced. This is a full 15 years after the first airbag was recalled.

The NHTSA is taking steps to speed up the recall of the Takata airbags that could explode and spray shrapnel into the faces of drivers and passengers, which has led to 11 deaths and 180 injuries in the US. It took until 2014 until the full nature of the problem was understood and massive recalls were initiated.

The last vehicles to have new airbags installed will be ones that have been fixed before. Some of the inflators in those airbags were replaced in the early recalls before the dangers of explosions were understood. The airbags become more dangerous as they get older, so it was thought that it would be better to replace the oldest airbags first, even if the new airbags would have to be replaced yet again.

NHTSA stated last week that the agency wants to replace 100% of the airbags that have a risk of malfunctioning. Most recalls are done only about 70% of car owners, even though they are done with no costs to the owners.

There are 29 million vehicles on roads in the US which have been recalled with the faulty Takata airbags that have been fixed. Part of the issue is that many car owners do not know that their car is in the recall. There are more than 30 car brands that are affected by the Takata airbag recall.

Why Get an Airbag Injury Lawyer

People who suffer injuries or lose loved ones in airbag failures may want to turn to the legal system to get the justice they deserve. Proving that the vehicle manufacturer and/or the airbag manufacturer was negligent requires an experienced airbag injury attorney who knows the history of the multiple airbag problems in recent years that have caused many injuries and deaths around the globe.

The recalls that have been initiated because many vehicles by GM, Honda and others were equipped with airbags from Takata that contained either faulty inflators or defects with the software. People are harmed or killed in some cases due to those defects. One of the problems that Takata has had with these cases is that it has been shown during airbag lawsuits that the company knew about the defects before it told the public or made changes. Knowing about the problem and hiding it is a form of negligence by Takata.

Officials say that there are 13 million more cars and trucks and SUVs in the US that need to be recalled in the near future. The total number of vehicles that will need to be repaired in the US is 42 million and many millions more around the world. And, there are many different models of inflator that have to be produced to give various automakers the parts that are needed to make the changes. The agency noted that this is the most complex and the largest recall in US history.

One lawsuit that came out of the Takata airbag recall was with the family of an elderly woman who died in 2014 after an airbag deployed with so much force that she was left a quadriplegic. The woman’s name was Patricia Mincey and it was one of the earliest lawsuits that came out of the Takata airbag recall.

The airbag in her vehicle was actually recalled and replaced five years before the crash. But the next generation of airbags also was recalled.

The woman survived after the airbag accident and lived as a quadriplegic for two years. She had to breath with a ventilator until she died at 77 years old.

Unlike the other deaths in the US from the airbags, the airbag in this woman’s Honda did not rupture. But it deployed with a massive amount of force that broke a vertebra in her neck.

The two sides in this lawsuit were scheduled to show up in court in Jacksonville FL in July 2016 for a hearing on punitive damages, and to compel the CEO of Takata to testify. But the two sides agreed to a settlement before the hearing.

Takata had to that point been disputing that there was anything unusual in how the airbag deployed in Mincey’s car. Elderly drivers who need to sit closer to the steering wheel because of their height can be at risk even if an airbag deploys correctly. But the lawsuit charged that Mincey’s airbag actually experienced an aggressive airbag deployment and that had caused her injury and subsequent death.

Four days after the elderly woman’s accident, another recall was issued for cars with Takata airbags. This accident has brought light to the fact that most of the nine million airbags that have been swapped out will probably have to be replaced again. Even some cars that are being built now with new airbags could have to be recalled down the road.

Michael Bennett

About Michael Bennett

Michael Bennett is Editor-in-Chief of Consumer Protect.com. Since 1999, he's worked across a multitude of areas of consumer protection including defective products, environmental issues, identity theft, predatory lending and more. If you find his articles helpful please share them with your readers.