The United States National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration ordered a recall notice on October 20, 2014, for airbags manufactured by the Japanese company, Takata. Approximately 4.7 million vehicles are included in the recall, which mostly affects model years 2001-2007. Additionally, 2011 Honda Elements are included in the airbag recall. Over 2.8 million of the vehicles subject to the airbag recall are Hondas, and another 700,000 are Toyotas. Nissan, Mazda, BMW and General Motors also have vehicles included in the airbag recall.
Immediate Action Suggested
NHTSA has warned owners in Tennessee and across the country to take “immediate action” if they have a recalled vehicle. Although letters have been mailed out to affected vehicle owners, there is some concern that some of these older vehicles may have been bought and sold several times, making it more difficult to locate current owners. A comprehensive list of vehicles included in the airbag recall can be found on the NHTSA website, safercar.gov, where a vehicle identification number can be entered to see if a given vehicle is subject to the airbag recall.
The NHTSA began to investigate reports of Takata airbags exploding with undue force in the first half of 2014. Initially, there was heightened concern over how these airbags were deploying in high humidity environments. As a result, two early recalls were regional in nature. One focused on Florida and another on Puerto Rico. However, the October 2014 Takata airbag recall includes vehicles in all U.S. states and territories.
Class Action Litigation Filed
Subsequent to the October 20 recall, a class action lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court in Florida that names both Takata and various automakers as defendants. In part, the lawsuit alleges that the automakers “had a duty to disclose these safety issues because they consistently marketed their vehicles as reliable and safe.”
The alleged problem with the Takata airbags involves the inflator, a device that is designed to rapidly inflate an airbag in an accident. In certain cases, it is alleged the device exploded, causing metal shrapnel to hit front-row occupants. Four deaths and at least 30 injuries have been linked to this reported malfunction, some of which resulted in individual lawsuits being filed earlier in 2014.
For example, one 28-year-old female alleges she was injured by a defective Takata airbag in a September 1, 2013 accident in Santa Rosa County, Florida. When the airbag deployed in her 2002 Honda Civic, pieces of metal were allegedly flung at her with such force that her face was bloodied and metal lodged in her right eye. The lawsuit was filed in May 2014 in Texas, the state where the vehicle had been purchased.
Tennessee state law allows those injured by allegedly defective products to seek compensation in civil court for past and future medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and other losses.
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