Reports continue to roll in of terrifying, sometimes fatal, instances of drivers and passengers being hit with shrapnel with the force of a bullet from exploding airbags manufactured by Takata Corporation as government agencies investigate. Injuries have been described to look like stab wounds. Affected airbags—now subject to a massive recall—can explode violently, spraying shrapnel and other metal debris into the interior at rapid fire pace.
Almost eight million vehicles in the United States (14 million globally) have recently been recalled for this defect with the airbags’ inflator components, which can explode due to excessive force even in a minor accident. Evidence has emerged that Takata has been aware of the problems for well over a decade, even though the majority of the recalls began only this year.
Hundreds of thousands of vehicles with Takata airbags remain on the road nationwide and globally, posing continued threats to motorists. There are currently not enough safe airbags to replace the recalled ones, forcing upon drivers a difficult—and potentially very dangerous—choice: risk driving with the airbags as they are, disable the airbags, or stop driving the vehicle altogether until the airbags can be replaced.
Lawsuits are now being filed. If you now own or lease, or previously owned or leased, any of the recalled vehicles listed below, you have likely suffered economic harm, having paid more for your car, truck or SUV than you would have had you known about the defect. You may have legal claims against Takata and the manufacturer of your vehicle and should contact an attorney to discuss your rights.
What is the Takata Defect?
The vehicles listed below are equipped with Takata airbags that can explode violently, spraying drivers and passengers with shrapnel and other metal debris when the airbag ruptures due to excessive pressure. The airbags—the inflator component, in particular—are currently linked to at least four deaths and over 100 injuries. The problem is thought to occur in warmer, humid areas.
An Urgent Request to Take Immediate Action
On October 22 2014, the National Highway Safety Administration issued a rare consumer advisory encouraging owners of recalled vehicles with Takata airbags to take action to repair the defects immediately:
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration urges owners of certain Toyota, Honda, Mazda, BMW, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Subaru, Chrysler, Ford and General Motors vehicles to act immediately on recall notices to replace defective Takata airbags. Over seven million vehicles are involved in these recalls, which have occurred as far back as 18 months ago and as recently as Monday. The message comes with urgency, especially for owners of vehicles affected by regional recalls in the following areas: Florida, Puerto Rico, limited areas near the Gulf of Mexico in Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, and Louisiana, as well as Guam, Saipan, American Samoa, Virgin Islands and Hawaii.
Who is Takata Corporation?
Takata Corporation is an automotive safety device manufacturer based in Japan. Today, Takata airbags count for 20% of the market. It is the second-largest supplier of airbags in the world.
Recalled Vehicles Equipped With Takata Airbags
Recalls have been issued so far for the vehicles listed below sold by the following ten automakers: BMW, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru and Toyota. If you now own or lease, or previously owned or leased, any of the vehicles on this list, you should contact an attorney to discuss your rights.
BMW (765,000 recalled vehicles):
- 2000 – 2005 3 Series Sedan
- 2000 – 2006 3 Series Coupe
- 2000 – 2005 3 Series Sports Wagon
- 2000 – 2006 3 Series Convertible
- 2001 – 2006 M3 Coupe
- 2001 – 2006 M3 Convertible
Chrysler (approximately 2.88 million recalled vehicles):
- 2003 – 2008 Dodge Ram 1500
- 2004 – 2008 Dodge Ram 2500
- 2004 – 2008 Dodge Ram 3500
- 2004 – 2008 Dodge Ram 4500
- 2008 – Dodge Ram 5500
- 2004 – 2007 Dodge Charger
- 2004 – 2008 Dodge Durango
- 2004 – 2008 Dodge Dakota
- 2004 – 2008 Chrysler 300
- 2007 – 2008 Chrysler Aspen
Ford (538,977 recalled vehicles):
- 2004 – 2005 Ranger
- 2005 – 2006 GT
- 2005 – 2008 Mustang
General Motors (undetermined total number of potentially affected vehicles):
- 2003 – 2005 Pontiac Vibe
- 2005 – Saab 9-2X
Honda (approximately 5.4 million recalled vehicles):
- 2001 – 2007 Honda Accord (four cylinder)
- 2001 – 2002 Honda Accord (V6)
- 2001 – 2005 Honda Civic
- 2002 – 2006 Honda CR-V
- 2003 – 2011 Honda Element
- 2002 – 2004 Honda Odyssey
- 2003 – 2007 Honda Pilot
- 2006 - Honda Ridgeline
- 2003 – 2006 Acura MDX
- 2002 – 2003 Acura TL
- 2002 – Acura CL
- 2005 – Acura RL
Mazda (330,000 recalled vehicles):
- 2004 – 2008 Mazda6
- 2006 – 2007 MazdaSpeed6
- 2004 – 2008 Mazda RX-8
- 2004 – 2005 MPV
- 2004 – B-Series Truck
Mitsubishi (11,985 recalled vehicles):
- 2004 – 2005 Lancer
- 2006 – 2007 Raider
Nissan (717,364 recalled vehicles):
- 2001 – 2003 Nissan Maxima
- 2001 – 2004 Nissan Pathfinder
- 2002 – 2006 Nissan Sentra
- 2001 – 2004 Infiniti I30/I35
- 2002 – 2003 Infiniti QX4
- 2003 – 2005 Infiniti FX35/FX45
Subaru (17,516 recalled vehicles):
- 2003 – 2005 Baja
- 2003 – 2005 Legacy
- 2003 – 2005 Outback
- 2004 – 2005 Impreza
- 2004 – 2005 Impreza WRX
- 2004 – 2005 Impreza WRX STi
Toyota and Lexus (877,000 recalled vehicles):
- 2002 – 2005 Lexus SC430
- 2002 – 2005 Toyota Corolla
- 2003 – 2005 Toyota Corolla Matrix
- 2002 – 2005 Toyota Sequoia
- 2003 – 2005 Toyota Tundra
Takata has known since at least 2001 that its airbags were defective, when Isuzu issued a recall after instances of Takata airbags exploding. In 2004, a driver of a Honda Accord was seriously injured when a Takata airbag exploded throwing shrapnel into the car. Takata and Honda did not issue a recall, instead describing the disturbing incident as “an anomaly.” Then, in 2007, Honda notified Takata of three more incidents of exploding airbags, all sending metal debris into the interiors of the vehicles, hitting passengers. Finally, Takata began an internal investigation. In late 2008, Takata shared the results of its investigation with Honda, prompting more recalls over the next few years.
Not until 2013 did Takata allegedly finally admit that the defective airbag inflators were installed in many other carmakers’ vehicles. In response, in April 2013, BMW, General Motors, Honda, Mazda, and Nissan issued recalls of 3.6 million vehicles equipped with Takata airbags. Chrysler and Ford also announced limited regional NHTSA recalls for certain vehicles originally sold or currently registered in Florida, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, Hawaii, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
In October 2014, NHTSA expanded the recall list to include almost 8 million vehicles manufactured by ten automakers: BMW, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru, and Toyota.
The vast majority of recalls occurred in 2013 and 2014, despite Takata knowing of a problem for 13 years.
Not Enough Safe Airbags to Replace Defective Ones: Danger is Compounded
Takata is unable to manufacture enough safe airbags to immediately replace the defective ones. In the meantime, drivers are stuck with cars and trucks of severely diminished value, and the potential for death or serious injury. Owners and lessees are being advised not to drive the vehicles until the airbags can be replaced.
In a shockingly dangerous move, Toyota dealers are disabling airbags and placing a “Do Not Sit Here” decal in the vehicles’ passenger seat. U.S. Senators Richard Blumenthal and Edward J. Markey, in a letter dated October 23 to the Department of Transportation, expressed their alarm “that NHTSA has endorsed a policy recently announced by Toyota and GM that dealers should disable passenger-side airbags and instruct against permitting passengers in the front seat if replacement parts for these airbags are unavailable. As a matter of policy, this step is extraordinarily troubling and potentially dangerous.”
An investigative report published by The New York Times on March 8, 2014 described the nature of the complaints in this way: “Many of the complaints detailed frightening scenes in which moving cars suddenly stalled at high speeds, on highways, in the middle of city traffic, and while crossing railroad tracks. A number of the complaints warned of catastrophic consequences if something was not done.”
The Senators also urged the expansion of the recall beyond the limited regional scope to a nationwide recall.
NHTSA opened an investigation after receiving complaints of injuries. Federal prosecutors are attempting to determine whether Takata misled U.S. regulators about the number of defective airbags it sold to automakers. Now, the Department of Transportation has vowed to conduct a review of NHTSA, after much scrutiny over the agency’s handling of the recalls.
What Does This Mean for You?
If you currently or previously owned or leased a vehicle listed above, you may have suffered material financial harm. You have likely paid more for your vehicle than you would have paid had you been aware of the serious potential defect in your vehicle’s airbags. You may have legal claims against Takata and the manufacturer of your vehicle and should contact an attorney to discuss your rights.
Discuss Your Claim
If you now own or lease, or previously owned or leased, any of the above-listed vehicles, please contact Grant & Eisenhofer P.A. to discuss your potential claim by submitting the contact form, or by calling us at 866-365-8533.
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