Feds Want Answers Why Automakers Stalling with Replacement Airbags
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) is asking tough questions of automakers and why they are dragging their feet in replacing dangerous Takata airbags. It’s about time. How many more motorists must die or suffer horrific injuries before the big automakers replace defective airbags?
The government originally gave car makers until December of last year to replace defective airbags. We were astonished last year that some companies like Volkswagen were still installing defective Takata airbags. Even with a looming deadline to take out and replace Takata airbags, a few automakers were still putting them in new cars.
We believe that the car companies have known about the defective airbags for years. That is why we brought so many class action complaints against automakers. Takata is broke and out of business but the automakers are still responsible for defective parts used in the manufacture of their automobiles. They have an obligation to replace them at their cost.
There are now about 37 million cars in the United States subject to the recall. Although it takes time to replace that many airbags, we have little sympathy for the automakers. Some of them have known for many years that the airbags they were putting into their cars were defective yet they continued using them in the hopes of saving a few bucks.
Now with dozens of deaths and catastrophic injuries, we are learning just how defective those airbags are. They are not only defective, they are dangerous and deadly.
Since 2015, the NHTSA has been telling car companies to quickly replace the bad airbags. Each day that goes by, tens of millions of motorists take their lives into their own hands when they start their car and drive down the highway. (We have spoken with hundreds of owners of Takata airbag equipped vehicles – many of those drivers won’t drive them meaning they are paying for a car that sits in a garage.)
According to the NHTSA, none of the twelve automakers affected by the Takata airbag recall met the December 2017 deadlines to replace the dangerous airbags.
According to a letter sent by NHTSA Deputy Administrator Heidi King to the automakers last month, “The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s number one priority is public safety, and the agency is concerned that certain higher risk vehicles with defective Takata air bags remain unrepaired.”
The response from the car companies? We imagine it will likely be more whining or near deafening silence.
Are You at Risk from a Defective Takata Airbag?
The cars most at risk are those that were driven or presently are driven in high heat, high humidity environments. Heat and humidity causes the ammonium nitrate propellant used to inflate the airbags to degrade. When that happens, the airbag can deploy with such explosive force that components in the airbag actuator and steering column can become razor sharp shrapnel.
It’s not just the driver’s side airbags. Some front passenger airbags are also equipped with defective Takata airbag actuators.
NHTSA says cars in the following states are most at risk: Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The agency says that approximately 7 million vehicles in high risk areas have yet to have their airbags replaced.
A complete list of cars subject to the recall can be found on our Takata Airbag Claim Center page. That page also has extensive information on the recall and what to do if you own one of the recalled vehicles.
Injured by an Exploding Airbag?
Despite the automakers knowing about these dangerous airbags for years, innocent motorists continue to get hurt. With summer heat and humidity here, it is only a matter of time before someone else gets killed.
Just two weeks ago we were contacted by a gentleman that was hurt when his airbag exploded. He is lucky to be alive but is today facing extensive surgery. His doctors tell him that he has permanent nerve damage and paralysis.
Had the car companies not been so greedy, this gentleman would not be facing a life of pain and uncertainty. (The car companies liked Takata airbags because they were cheaper than the alternatives.)
Had the car companies listened to the NHTSA back in 2015, once again, this gentleman would not be spending his days with lawyers, surgeons and therapists.
If you were hurt by an exploding airbag, make sure you save the car! Even if it is totaled, have the car towed to a safe location. Without the airbag system, it is hard to prove that the Takata airbag actuator was the cause of the injuries.
Next, make sure you call us right away. Whether or not the accident was your fault or someone else’s, no one should have their face torn apart by shrapnel from a defective airbag. There is an enormous amount of work to be done, however, in an airbag case and it is important to preserve evidence immediately. The quicker we can get to work, the better your chances of financial recovery.
If Takata Made the Defective Airbag, Why Sue the Automakers?
Takata’s bankruptcy filing listed over a billion dollars owed various creditors. What they actually owe is probably $5 billion or more. Those creditors include very person injured by an airbag, every dealer that gives out a loaner car to someone waiting for parts, an $825 million fine owed the feds and every automaker that is forced to find and fund replacement airbags. Recalling 37 million cars is no cheap undertaking.
With so many claims, Takata simply filed bankruptcy last year. Their business and assets have been sold. And just $265 million is available to pay claims. The fact that Takata has very little money left to pay claims is one reason to look to the automakers.
Another reason is that the automakers are responsible for the parts they put in their cars. And most automakers knew or suspected for years that the ammonium nitrate airbag propellant used by Takata was dangerous, yet they continued installing Takata airbags in their vehicles. They are every bit as responsible as Takata and unlike Takata, the auto companies have the money to pay claims.
If you were injured by a defective airbag, contact us immediately online, by email at or by phone at 414-704-6731 (direct). It doesn’t matter if the airbag exploded or didn’t deploy or even if the airbag wasn’t made by Takata or subject to the recall… we can help. Want to learn more about exploding Takata airbags? Visit our Takata airbag injury claim center as well as our Takata legal resources page.