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Who Knew About the Takata Defects?

Posted on in Product Liability

Takata airbag recalls, Chicago product liability lawyerWith 7.8 million U.S. vehicles affected by the recent Takata airbag recall, many people are wondering if their vehicle is affected by the recall and if it is safe to drive. Airbags can deploy, even in low-impact crashes, causing injuries and damage. If your vehicle is affected by the defective airbags, you may be at risk if your airbags deploy and may have a product liability case against the manufacturer.

In light of all the recent rolling recalls, people are also wondering who knew about the defects before the recalls started happening. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issues recalls based on accident, individual, and car manufacturer reports. They did not start investigating Takata airbag defects and issuing recalls until 2009. Alleged evidence from Honda and Takata state they both knew as early as 2004 that there was a defect in the airbags.

In addition to Honda and Takata allegedly knowing about the defects, they did not notify NHTSA about the defects. At a hearing before the House Committee of Energy and Commerce, a Takata executive, Hiroshi Shimizu, would not clearly answer if the airbags were defective, but did apologize for the deaths and injuries.

At the same hearing, “Honda Executive Rick Schostek stated Honda may not have complied with the 2000 Transportation Recall Enhancement Accountability and Documentation (TREAD) Act, which requires companies to report injured, lawsuits, and complaints to federal regulators. Less than a week later, Honda confirmed it failed to report more than 1,700 claims of injury or death involving its cars over an 11-year period.”

There have been five deaths and over 100 injuries reportedly connected to defective airbags from Takata. If Honda had complied with the TREAD Act, many of those deaths and injuries may have been avoided. A recall would still be needed, but it would not have affected so many vehicles. Vehicles affected are dated from 2000-2011. If the defect had been reported earlier, the recall amount may have been cut in at least half. Replacements are not scheduled to be ready for most vehicles affected until late 2015, leaving many consumers at risk.

Manufacturers have a duty to consumers to ensure their products are safe and to account for product liability. If they are not safe, they need to alert the consumers of the defect and fix the problem immediately. If Honda and Takata knew prior to the major recalls NHTSA started in 2009 that there was a defect, they have a responsibility to compensate the consumers affected.

Car manufacturers and car part suppliers should be held accountable for defective parts that negatively impact car owners’ time and possibly life. If you have been affected by the Takata airbag recall, contact a Chicago defective car parts attorney today. Call the law office of Hurley McKenna & Mertz, P.C. at 312-553-4900 for a free consultation.
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