By now, many residents of Chicago may have heard of the recall of potentially deadly air bags manufactured by Takata Corp. In fact, it is reported that Takata knew since 2004 that the bags could potentially deploy with too much force, propelling shrapnel at the vehicle’s drivers and passengers. In fact, eight people have reportedly died due to this defect, and many more suffered injuries. The United States government has ordered 12 automakers to issue a replacement airbag for 19 million motor vehicles, making it the largest recall of its kind in the country.
Unfortunately, the recall may yet expand. In addition, the fix being offered to consumers at this point is considered an “interim” fix by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. In fact, some consumers report waiting for as many as four years for suitable replacement components. Takata and the agency came to a consent decree in the beginning of November, in which the company will phase out the use of ammonium nitrate in its air bags and will submit to a fine of up to $200 million.
Both Takata and manufacturers of automobiles that utilize Takata air bags are facing legal actions filed by injured consumers and the families of those who have died. In one suit, the plaintiff suffered injuries to her vocal chords and a severed trachea due to metal fragments that struck her when the airbag deployed in a crash. According to the plaintiff, the dealership she purchased the automobile from did not ascertain whether the vehicle was affected by the recall.
It remains to be seen what the outcomes of such lawsuits will be. However, no one’s life should be placed at risk due to dangerous and defective automotive products. With the help of a Chicago products liability attorney, those who have lost loved ones due to defective automobiles may want to research whether they have any legal remedies available to them, including the possibility of pursuing a wrongful death suit.
Source: Bloomberg Business, “The Biggest U.S. Auto Recalls Can Be Really Big Messes,” John Lippert, Nov. 20, 2015