Since cars first hit the road, the priority of every automotive company has been safety. Cars on the road today are almost unrecognizable from the ones that were on the road a century ago and one of the most important developments has been airbags. These airbags have undergone a significant amount of change since they first hit the market and are meant to deploy on impact. If the car feels a large force, it trips a sensor that causes the airbag to rapidly inflate, protecting the driver and passenger from a major, and possibly deadly, impact with a hard surface. Drivers and passengers everywhere expect these airbags to save their life, not place it at risk. This is what makes the recent airbag recalls with the Takata airbag company so startling, leading to a host of product liability issues.
The Problem with the Airbags
Takata is one of the most prolific airbag suppliers in the world, supplying airbags to millions of vehicles from dozens of brands operating in the United States and beyond. The problem with the airbag is that there are multiple defective inflators and propellant parts in the airbags. This causes the airbags to deploy in an improper manner when the sensor is triggered in the event of an auto accident. Instead of filling properly with the propellant, the airbag shoots small metal parts through the car that could potentially injure or kill the driver and passengers. This creates an unsafe driving situation not dissimilar to having shrapnel fired from an exploding hand grenade. Clearly, something has to be done.
The Problems Begin
Takata initially announced that something was wrong four years ago, back in April of 2013. When Takata announced a problem with their airbags, they initially said that it only affected six different makes of vehicles and that the problem was somehow triggered by a high level of humidity; however, the problem quickly escalated from there. In November of 2014, the New York Times published a report that claimed Takata knew that something was wrong with their airbags as early as 2004. The report claimed that the company was conducting tests outside of business hours to figure out what the problem was with their airbags.
Failure to Notify Safety Regulators
The results of the tests from Takata engineers confirmed the above information indicating that something was wrong with the inflators. Knowing that they had defected products, the engineers of the company quickly started trying to research a solution; however, instead of issuing product recalls and notifying the federal safety regulators, the company instead tried to dispose of the evidence. This represents a massive cover-up in the area of product liability that places millions of people across the world at risk.
The US NHTSA Issues a Recall
An airbag failure occurs in a 2007 Ford Mustang in North Carolina. This event is significant because the vehicle contained a Takata airbag and this vehicle was not on the original list of vehicles that were recalled because it was not located in an area of high humidity. The United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration decided to issue recalls for every vehicle in the country equipped with the defective Takata airbags, making it one of the largest auto parts recalls in history. The Takata recall for defective products is one now one of the largest that the country has ever seen.
Over the next couple of years, Takata is called before Congress repeatedly to address the Takata recall. The company is also forced to meet with drivers and passengers who were injured by these shrapnel-shooting airbags. The public scrutiny over one of the largest airbag recalls only grows, with several questions being asked of the company, most notably why it took the company so long to address the problems with the airbags publicly. In fact, many of the auto manufacturers voluntarily started recalling their vehicles on their own due to the status of the defective products in their Takata airbags. Congress also expressed its displeasure with how long it took Takata to start making proper replacement parts. Because of the lack of speed with which Takata was manufacturing replacement parts, many people continued to drive around with airbags that were part of airbag recalls, placing themselves and others at risk.
The First Lawsuit is Filed
While Takata continued to try to come to grips with the Takata recall over defective products and liability issues, the first lawsuit is filed with a United States District Court in Lafayette, Louisiana in 2015. A 22-year old woman died in April of 2015 when her car struck a telephone pole. The airbag on the driver’s side of her car exploded, instead of deploying and saving the driver’s life, and the explosion released metal shrapnel throughout the vehicle. Most notably, this crash occurred two days before a recall was issued for the 2005 Honda Civic. Unfortunately, this would only be the first of several deaths that would wind up being attributed to the defective airbags involved in the auto parts recalls. Over the next few years, a myriad of lawsuits would be filed against Takata for their defective airbags, quickly growing to one of the largest lawsuits surrounding airbag recalls and liability issues the world has ever seen. While the lawsuits mounted, dozens of auto brands throughout the world started recalling their vehicles to prevent similar tragedies from developing.
Contact an Experienced Liability Attorney
Airbags are meant to protect the driver and the passengers in the vehicle in the event of an auto accident, not turn the car into a prison cell of flaming shrapnel. If you or a loved one was injured by a defective product implicated in auto parts recall, such as the Takata recall, please contact an experienced product liability attorney with GOM Law. A GOM Law product liability attorney consistently places the needs of their clients ahead of their own, particularly when it comes to defective products and recalls, to ensure that anyone dealing with a personal injury or a wrongful death receives a just and fair compensation. Please scroll below to see a full list of affected vehicles from the Takata recall.
The Full List of Affected Vehicles:
Acura: 2002–2003 3.2TL; 2003 3.2CL; 2003–2006 MDX; 2005–2012 RL; 2007–2016 RDX; 2009–2014 TL and TSX; 2010–2013 ZDX; 2013–2016 ILX (including hybrid)
Audi: 2004–2009 A4; 2005–2009 S4; 2003–2011 A6; 2006–2013 A3; 2006–2009 A4 cabriolet; 2007–2008 RS4; 2007–2009 S4 cabriolet; 2007–2011 S6; 2008 RS4 cabriolet; 2009–2012, 2015 Q5; 2010–2011 A5 cabriolet; 2010–2012 S5 cabriolet; 2016–2017 TT; 2017 R8
BMW: 2000–2011 3-series sedan; 2000–2012 3-series wagon; 2000–2013 3-series coupe and convertible; 2000–2013 M3 coupe and convertible; 2001–2003 5-series and M5; 2001–2013 X5; 2007–2010 X3; 2008–2013 1-series coupe and convertible; 2008–2011 M3 sedan; 2008–2014 X6 (including hybrid); 2011–2015 X1
Buick: 2015 LaCrosse
Cadillac: 2007–2014 Escalade, Escalade ESV; 2007–2013 Escalade EXT; 2015 XTS
Chevrolet: 2007–2014 Silverado HD, Suburban, and Tahoe; 2007–2013 Avalanche and Silverado 1500; 2015 Camaro, Equinox, and Malibu
Chrysler: 2005–2015 300; 2006–2008 Crossfire; 2007–2009 Aspen
Daimler: 2006–2009 Dodge Sprinter 2500 and 3500; 2007–2017 Freightliner Sprinter 2500 and 3500; 2008–2009 Sterling Bullet 4500 and 5500
Dodge/Ram: 2003–2008 Ram 1500; 2003–2009 Ram 2500; 2003–2010 Ram 3500; 2004–2009 Durango; 2005–2008 Magnum; 2005–2011 Dakota; 2006–2015 Charger; 2008–2014 Challenger; 2008–2010 Ram 4500 and Ram 5500
Ferrari: 2009–2014 California; 2010–2015 458 Italia; 2012–2016 Ferrari FF; 2012–2015 458 Spider; 2013–2017 Ferrari F12 Berlinetta; 2014–2015 458 Speciale; 2015 458 Speciale A; 2015–2017 California T; 2016–2017 Ferrari F12tdf, 488 GTB, and 488 Spider; 2016 Ferrari F60; 2017 Ferrari GTC4 Lusso
Fisker: 2012 Karma
Ford: 2004–2011 Ranger; 2005–2006 GT; 2005–2014 Mustang; 2006–2012 Fusion; 2007–2010 Edge
GMC: 2007–2014 Sierra HD, Yukon, and Yukon XL; 2007–2013 Sierra 1500; 2015 Terrain
Honda: 2001–2012 Accord; 2001–2011 Civic (including hybrid and NGV); 2002–2011, 2016 CR-V; 2002–2004 Odyssey; 2003–2015 Pilot; 2003–2011 Element; 2006–2014 Ridgeline; 2006–2010, 2012 Gold Wing motorcycle; 2007–2013 Fit; 2010–2015 Accord Crosstour; 2010–2014 Insight and FCX Clarity; 2011–2015 CR-Z; 2013–2014 Fit EV
Infiniti: 2001–2004 I30/I35; 2002–2003 QX4; 2003–2008 FX35/FX45; 2006–2010 M35/M45
Jaguar: 2009–2015 XF
Jeep: 2007–2016 Wrangler
Land Rover (more than 68,000): 2007–2012 Range Rover
Lexus: 2002–2010 SC430; 2006–2013 IS; 2007–2012 ES; 2008–2014 IS F; 2010–2015 IS C; 2010–2017 GX; 2010–2015 IS convertible; 2012 LFA
Lincoln: 2006–2012 Lincoln Zephyr and MKZ; 2007–2010 Lincoln MKX
Mazda: 2003–2011 Mazda6; 2006–2007 Mazdaspeed 6; 2004–2011 RX-8; 2004–2006 MPV; 2004–2009 B-series; 2007–2012 CX-7; 2007–2015 CX-9
McLaren: 2011–2015 P1; 2012–2014 MP4-12C; 2015–2016 650S; 2016–2017 570; 2016 675LT
Mercedes-Benz: 2005–2014 C-class (excluding C55 AMG but including 2008–2012 C63 AMG); 2007–2008 SLK-class; 2007–2017 Sprinter; 2009–2012 GL-class; 2009–2011 M-class; 2009–2012 R-class; 2010–2011 E-class sedan and wagon; 2010–2017 E-class Coupe; 2011–2017 E-class convertible; 2010–2015 GLK-class; 2011–2015 SLS AMG coupe and roadster
Mercury: 2006–2011 Milan
Mitsubishi: 2004 Lancer Sportback; 2004–2007 Lancer; 2004–2006 Lancer Evolution; 2006–2009 Raider; 2012–2017 iMiEV
Nissan: 2001–2003 Maxima; 2002–2004 Pathfinder; 2002–2006 Sentra; 2007–2012 Versa
Pontiac: 2003–2010 Vibe
Saab: 2003–2011 9-3; 2005–2006 9-2X; 2006–2009 9-5
Saturn: 2008–2009 Astra
Scion: 2008–2015 xB
Subaru (more than 380,000): 2003–2014 Legacy and Outback; 2003–2006 Baja; 2004–2011 Impreza; 2006–2014 Tribeca; 2009–2013 Forester; 2012–2014 WRX and WRX STI
Tesla: 2012–2016 Tesla Model S
Toyota (6 million, including Lexus and Scion): 2002–2007 Sequoia; 2003–2013 Corolla and Corolla Matrix; 2003–2006 Tundra; 2004–2005 RAV4; 2006–2012 Yaris; 2010–2016 4Runner; 2011–2014 Sienna
Volkswagen (more than 680,000): 2006–2010, 2012–2014 Passat sedan and wagon; 2009–2017 CC; 2009–2013 GTI; 2010–2014 Jetta SportWagen and Golf; 2010–2014 Eos; 2013 Golf R; 2015 Tiguan