Defective airbags endanger drivers and passengers

Designed to cushion blows, Takata airbags can instead spray deadly shrapnel

Air bags are supposed to keep drivers and passengers in a car safe. They are supposed to deploy rapidly in a collision and provide a cushion that will protect occupants from striking objects in a car.

airbag

They are not supposed to explode violently and spray sharp metal fragments at those occupants.

But because of defects both companies have long known about, Takata airbags installed in Honda vehicles have done just that, resulting in serious injuries and even death.

Attorneys for Bailey & Glasser LLP have filed two class-action lawsuits against Takata and Honda to help the millions of Americans who have purchased vehicles with these hidden defects, unknowingly putting their lives at risk because of these companies’ negligence and deceptive practices.

Takata has known since at least 1995 that its unsafe practices could lead to explosions in its air bags because the design used ammonium nitrate as a chemical propellant for the air bag inflator.

The manufacturer has known since at least 2001 when it issued its first recall that the design of its air bags could lead to excess pressure in the inflator, causing them to explode.

Honda has also known for years that the Takata airbags installed in its vehicles could be dangerous. Even after numerous reports of serious injuries, Honda failed to inform U.S. safety regulators of the potential issue. In January 2015, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) fined Honda a record $70 million for holding back information from U.S. regulators about accidents involving its vehicles where people were killed or injured.

When Takata and Honda finally acknowledged the issue in 2008, they attempted to downplay the severity and limit the subsequent recall to certain models and regions with high humidity.

Six months after that limited recall, a Florida woman died after a minor accident resulted in an airbag deployment that sent a two-inch piece of shrapnel flying into her neck. Her vehicle had not been included in the recall.

Takata and Honda continued to resist calls for a wider recall for several years. In 2014, another Honda driver died after her airbag exploded and sent metal shrapnel into her neck. A week later, she received a recall letter from Honda.

Still, Takata and Honda resisted calls for national recalls. Even after a national recall was issued, after increasing pressure from federal regulators, the response has been horribly inadequate, as Takata struggles to manufacture a sufficient number of safe airbags and Honda dealerships struggle to install millions of the units. On February 20, 2015, NHTSA hit Takata with a $14,000 per day fine for failing to cooperate with the Department of Transportation’s investigation into defective air bag inflators.

As a result, owners of these vehicles must wait, wonder and worry about whether their air bags might make even a minor accident more dangerous.

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