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Takata airbag injury, Chicago auto defect lawyersDefective Takata airbags, which caused one of the biggest automotive recalls in history, were linked to 10 deaths and more than 100 injuries. Exploding on impact, the defective airbags sent metal shrapnel flying throughout the car and at its occupants. But, until now, no one really understood why. Scientists say they now have the answer.

A Multi-Faceted Problem

According to NPR, ten automobile manufacturing companies banded together and hired a team of rocket scientists so they could better understand what exactly had caused the airbag problems. What they found was not just one contributing factor, but several. Exposure to humidity, problems with both the manufacturing and design, and the use of a volatile chemical known as ammonium nitrate are all to blame, the scientists say.

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Takata airbag recall list, Illinois product liability lawyerEight deaths and over 100 injuries have been linked to defective Takata airbags. As a result, more than 30 million vehicles from 10 different manufacturers have been recalled. Consumer Report recently released an exhaustive list of those vehicles, as well as some tips for those affected.

Which Vehicles are Being Recalled and Why?

Toyota, Subaru, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Mazda, Honda, General Motors, Ford, Chrysler, and BMW all have models on the Takata airbag recall list. Most of them were manufactured between 2002 and 2008, but some models have been expanded to 2014. (A comprehensive list of the specific models and years of vehicles being recalled are listed at Consumer Report.)

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Dodge Challenger, Takata recall, Chicago defective car parts lawyerDodge Challengers have recently been added to the ever-growing list of Takata airbag recalls. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) says that the Challengers were “inadvertently excluded” from the original recall list submitted to the NHTSA. The FCA also stated it was not until an audit on July 6 that they realized the 88,346 Dodge Challengers, manufactured between September 2007 and October 2010, had Takata airbags.

The Japanese-manufactured airbags contain a propellant that can degrade over time from moisture exposure. Even in a low-speed impact, the airbags can deploy with such excessive force that they self-destruct and shoot shrapnel into the passenger compartment. Over the last decade, they have been traced back to eight deaths and more than 100 injuries.

Takata’s Failures in Morality

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Mazda airbag recall, Chicago auto defect lawyersThe Takata recall is not a new subject, but Mazda’s new recall is. In addition to recalling the Takata airbags, Mazda announced they are recalling inflators made by Takata. Mazda is taking steps to replace the defective car parts to ensure consumers who bought their vehicles are safe on the road.

Mazda is recalling almost 445,000 vehicles with dual driver side front airbag. They said the front driver side airbag is more susceptible to moisture and other influences that may cause the inflator to rupture over time. If the inflator ruptures, in the event of a crash and the airbag deploying, the inflator will send metal shards into the inside of the vehicle. Mazda vehicles affected include 2003-2008 Mazda 6 models, 2004-2008 Mazda R-8 models, and 2006-2007 Mazdaspeed 6 models.

Consumers who believe their vehicle has been impacted by the recall can enter their Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) into the SaferCar.gov website. The website was created by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). They note that with the large number of vehicles being recalled it can take several days to get all the VINs of affected vehicles into the system and to check back to make sure your vehicle is not on the recall list.

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Takata apology, Chicago product liability lawyersThe Takata airbag recall has not gotten better in the months since it started. More vehicles have been added to the recall list and more deaths have been linked to defective Takata airbags. A national recall started in November 2014, but Takata is just now apologizing for the deaths and injuries their defective airbags have caused. Is their apology too late for some consumers and automotive companies though?

An apology and deep bow from Takata’s chief executive, Shigehisa Takada, cannot bring back those who have died to their family members or heal the injuries the defective car part has caused many consumers. With the timeline for fixing all the recalled airbags growing with the increase in cars added to the recall, Fiat Chrysler informed the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation it will no longer use Takata inflators in replacement of driver’s side airbags in its cars. It is looking at other alternatives to fix the defective part.

The Senate Committee has been going through all the documents Takata gave them and has released a report stating Takata has stopped performing safety audits. In the report, citing internal emails, the committee wrote that Takata may have been able to prevent this recall if it had proper safety and auditing committees in place to check that the correct protocols were being followed. This neglect on Takata’s part that there was no safety committee in place is troubling.

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Takata airbag recall death, Chicago personal injury lawyerAn eighth death has been linked to the recalled airbags from Takata Corp. of Japan. A Los Angeles woman suffered neck and head injuries when the Honda civic she was driving crashed and the airbag deployed, sending shrapnel flying into the body of the car and the victim. This death has become more prevalent in the ongoing recall because the car being driven was a rental car.

The Honda civic the victim was driving had previously been recalled in 2009 and the owner of the vehicle had been notified four times, according to Honda, about the recall and that the vehicle needed repaired. Mark Rosekind, the administrator of the Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), stated, “The fact that this was a rental vehicle that had not been remedied is more evidence for why we are seeking author to prohibit sale or rental of any vehicle with an open safety recall.”

Rental car companies should be held to the same standards as car dealerships when vehicles receive recalls. Renting a car to a consumer when the company knows there is a recall is a product liability case. Currently, only dealerships are required to repair recalled vehicles and defective car parts before they can sell the car. Rental car companies should also be required to take a recalled vehicle out of their rotation until the defective part is fixed.

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Mazda Takata recall, Chicago product liability lawyersThe Takata airbag recall has affected ten car companies and over 30 million vehicles. Mazda announced they are adding an additional 540,000 older vehicles to the recall list. With Takata airbags being used in almost every automotive manufacturer, many are left to wonder if their vehicle will be added to the recall list. Automotive companies and Takata are responsible for the product liability of the defective airbags.

Consumers only have two options with this recall. They can choose to not drive their vehicle until the defective airbag is replaced or they can take the chance and hope they do not get into an accident where the airbag will deploy, possibly killing or injuring themselves or their passengers. Neither option is acceptable and in most cases consumers have no other option that to continue to drive their cars with the defective airbag.

Takata and investigators have not been able to determine which inflator in the airbag design is the cause of the problem. Reports are now saying it is multiple causes. This is an unsatisfactory answer to the largest recall in automotive history. If the company that designed the defective airbag and independent researchers cannot fix the design, consumers are being put at risk longer because the defective airbag will take longer to be replaced.

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Chicago defective product lawyerThe Takata airbag recall has been unfolding since October, starting with a massive recall that affected 11 car companies. The Takata recall was already setting records for the amount of companies it affected with the recall. On May 19, Takata nearly doubled the recall amount and now affects approximately 34 million vehicles. It is now the largest automotive recall in history.

With the recall almost doubling, it may take years to replace the airbags that are being recalled. New processing procedures and airbags have to be produced and then shipped to dealers for replacement. Implementing a new process for producing the airbags may require modifying machines, training employees, and the other procedures to ensure their product is safe. This can take time to implement, making consumers who have to have their airbags replaced wait even longer. Takata and the car companies have a product liability responsibility to the consumer to ensure their products are safe to use.

While the National Highways Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Takata will not have all the vehicles affected for a few weeks at least, of the 11 companies affected by the recall, Honda has been affected the most. Reports have been reviewed about if Honda knew about the defects before the recall was issued and did not report it to the NHTSA, but Honda has started looking into other companies for replacing the airbags. The solution is coming a little too late for some consumers who have already been affected by the defect, including families who have lost family members due to the defective airbags.

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Takata airbag recall lawyer, Chicago product liability attorneyHonda announced it is adding nearly 105,000 more vehicles to the recall list it began last year over reports of potentially deadly airbags. The automaker’s recall now includes 5.5 millions vehicles sold under the Honda or Acura brands in the United States. Ten other auto manufacturers have also been forced to recall a combined 11.5 million vehicles equipped with possibly defective airbags, all products of the same auto parts supplier.

Recall Timeline

In October 2014, 11 automakers announced the recall of more than 14 million vehicle sold with airbags manufactured by Japanese part maker Takata. Less than month later, The New York Times carried a report that Takata was aware nearly ten years ago that some of the company’s airbags could possibly explode, putting a driver at risk from flying metal debris. The report claims that rather than notifying safety officials, Takata tested potential fixes and redesigns, then scrapped the program and scrubbed the data. Regulatory filings from the company do not acknowledge any such testing until 2008, when the first airbag rupture-related recall was initiated.

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takata airbag recall, Chicago IL Product Liability LawyerRecalls of Takata airbags started as early as 2008.  Takata and Honda allegedly both knew about the recalls as early as 2004. Why did the major recall from the National Highway Traffic-Safety Administration (NHTSA) not start until October of last year? Why are so many vehicles still on the road and not getting the necessary replacement they need?

Takata has indicated that they do not expect to have enough new airbags produced to cover the amount of recalled vehicles until late 2015. This is not an acceptable rate of replacement for a mandatory recall that has affected over 7.8 million vehicles from 10 car manufacturers.

The 10 manufacturers affected by the Takata recall have contracted with Orbital ATK to conduct their own tests on the defective airbags. Orbital ATK is a defense and aerospace firm that provides products to the United States, its allies, and government contractors. They were chosen by the 10 manufacturers for their expertise in the field of engineering and the ability to move the investigation into the defective airbags forward.

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Takata airbag recall fines, Chicago personal injury attorneyThe United States is fining Takata Corporation, a Tokyo, Japan based company that manufactures airbags, $14,000 each day due to non-compliance in the investigation into their faulty airbags. Late last year, the National Highway Traffic-Safety Administration (NHTSA) initiated a product recall on vehicles using Takata airbags. The company is responsible for covering product liability to consumers affected by the recall.

With over 7.8 million vehicles affected by the recall, Transportation Secretary Anthony Fox said Takata will be fined each day they do not comply with the investigation and withhold documentation and other materials necessary for the investigation.

Takata gave NHTSA 2.4 million pages of documentation but did not give any guidance or explanation as to what information is in the documents. Employees have to sift through the pages, wasting time, money, and resources that could be spent on other claims and the investigation, to find information they need for the investigation. It is also delaying being able to accurately fix and recall all affected vehicles.

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