Takata airbags have been linked to car accidents that have caused 10 deaths and more than 100 injuries, in Florida and elsewhere. Now U.S. officials have announced that an additional 35 million to 40 million airbag inflators will be recalled, adding to the 28.8 million inflators recalled since 2008, making it by far the largest auto safety recall in U.S. history.
The ammonium nitrate propellant in the airbag inflators degrades over time, especially in the presence of the high temperatures and humidity common to the Fort Lauderdale climate. As a result of the degradation, the propellant can burn too quickly, causing the inflator module to rupture and send shrapnel flying into the passenger compartment. People have died when they were struck by shrapnel from the airbag, after relatively minor car accidents.
Additionally, it has now been shown that Takata was aware of the danger far earlier, and took no corrective action, a pattern that has become all too common with other companies in the auto industry. Individuals such as former Takata engineer Mark Lillie have come forward to say that they warned Takata more than 15 years ago that the defect would cause deaths. To guard against such a situation in the future, Congress passed the Motor Vehicle Safety Whistleblower Act in December 2015, which allows industry insiders to receive a percentage of fines assessed on companies, when they provide information on safety violations.
Anyone who loses a loved one or is injured as the result of a car accident, whether the fault lies with another driver or a manufacturer, should consult with an attorney.