Airbag Recall News Suggests Takata Knew About Risks of Airbags Exploding A Decade Ago
The personal injury lawyers at Wright & Schulte LLC have recently learned new information in the Takata airbag recall that suggests Takata knew about the potential for their airbags to explode as early as 2004.
According to the New York Time, a report received by Takata in 2004 stated that an airbag exploded in Alabama, spraying the driver with metal shrapnel. The New York Times stated that Takata secretly conducted tests on 50 airbags after receiving the report in airbags found in scrap yards. This information comes from two former employees involved in the tests, the New York Times article states. [http://www.nytimes.com/2014/11/07/business/airbag-maker-takata-is-said-to-have-conducted-secret-tests.html?hp&action=click&pgtype=Homepage&module=first-column-region®ion=top-news&WT.nav=top-news&_r=0, November 2014]
During the tests, the steel inflaters cracked, which indicates a potential to rupture, the report stated. The engineers begun planning replacement designs in preparation for a recall. However, Takata never alerted federal safety regulators of the potential danger, choosing instead to delete testing data and dispose of the airbag inflators, according to the former employees. The employees told The New York Times that the tests were conducted after work hours and during the holidays during the summer of 2004 at Takata’s American headquarters in Auburn Hills, Michigan. According to federal safety regulators, Takata did not report testing the airbags until 2008.
To date, 11 automakers have recalled over 14 million vehicles due to the faulty airbags. Four deaths have been tied to exploding shrapnel after crashes. According to data collected by The New York Times, Takata has received complaints for over 139 injuries due to the faulty airbags.
A spokesperson for Honda told The New York Times that Takata told the manufacturer that the exploding airbag in 2004 was an anomaly. The Alabama vehicle was a 2002 Honda Accord. The spokesperson told The New York Times, “This is a serious allegation about actions taken by Takata. It is our intention to determine whether anyone at Honda has any evidence that these claims are credible.”
The Times investigated the possible cover-up and examined documents, emails, and other data from Takata workers. On numerous occasions, workers raised concerns about the handling of the airbags. The Times found that mishandled airbags were not always inspected for additional damage or quality control. As a result of this data, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is re-opening an investigation of Takata that is previously had closed in 2010 without any enforcement action. The Government Accountability Office and federal prosecutors in Manhattan are also planning to investigate the alleged cover-up.
According to engineers from Takata, imbalances in humidity are more likely to cause problems with airbags and make them more likely to explode. According to Takata, they addressed these problems in the early 2000s, but documents found by The New York Times indicate that the company was still addressing the issue as late as 2009. The company documents indicate that Takata facilities also mishandled the airbags, increasing their potential to rupture.
A spokesperson for Takata refused to address the accusation that the manufacturer hid safety data, but told The New York Times that the company, “will continue to fully cooperate with the government investigation as we also support the needs of our customers.”
If you have experienced injuries due to air bag recalls contact the personal injury attorneys at Wright & Schulte LLC at 1-800-399-0795. The firm has successfully represented clients in negligence lawsuits and is here to help. You may also log go to www.yourohiolegalhelp.com for more information on this airbag recall and other car recalls issued.
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