The Takata airbag inflator defect is a serious defect that has already produced deaths and injuries. The defect is caused by problems with the airbag inflator. Due to defects in the manufacturing process, moisture can be introduced into the inflator housing. This moisture can cause a phase change in the propellant that result in unpredictable ballistic consequences. Often this can mean that the propellant and airbag will deploy with excessive force.
In a number of cases, airbag deployment with excessive forces has resulted in severe lacerations to the face and neck of drivers and passengers. There are currently 10 deaths in the United States attributed to the Takata airbag defect. The most recent death occurred in a March 31, 2016, crash involving a 2002 Honda Civic in Fort Bend County, Texas. Here, the crash caused only moderate damage to the vehicle, but the deployment of the defective airbag caused fatal injuries to the 17-year-old driver.
Unfortunately, the Takata airbag defect situation may continue to get worse before it improves. A recent report from the Wall Street Journal predicts that Takata and NHTSA will significantly expand the recall as soon as this week. If you were injured in a car accident with a defective vehicle, contact a Philadelphia car accident lawyer of The Reiff Law Firm.
Takata Airbag Recall to Significantly Expand?
According to a Wall Street Journal report, the Takata airbag recall will expand – and potentially double in size – within the upcoming weeks. To date, the recall has impacted about 24 million vehicles in the United States. While the Journal states that the exact number of recalled vehicles is not known, the report indicates that the expanded recall could impact as many as 35 million additional vehicles. The report states that the recall would affect, at a minimum, “tens of millions of vehicles.”
According to sources at Nation Transportation Safety Agency (NHTSA), the expanded recall was determined to be the correct course of action after the regulator studied three separate inquiries. These inquiries were conducted by Takata, a consortium of 10 affected vehicle manufacturers, and by Honda. Honda is the automaker that has been most significantly impacted by the defect and ensuing recalls.
Is this a Comprehensive Recall?
The propellant used in the defective inflators in ammonium nitrate. While the substance is used widely in certain industries, like mining, many have questioned whether its use in airbags is appropriate or safe given the compound’s properties. Some Senators have called for a comprehensive recall of all vehicle airbags utilizing this propellant.
Unfortunately, the still unannounced recall is unlikely to satisfy these demands and may lead to additional scrutiny of NHTSA and Takata. The expanded recall is expected to cover only ammonium nitrate-based inflators that lack a desiccant. A desiccant is a drying agent that mitigates the effects of moisture on the propellant and can prevent a build-up of moisture that can trigger the defect.
Will the Expanded Recall Prevent Injuries and Deaths?
As a starting point, it is a good sign that the recall is removing defective products from our roads and highways. The expanded recall targets the vehicles most likely to experience the defect and is likely to result in a reduced chance of airbag deployment with excessive force. However, this is not a comprehensive recall that removes all ammonium nitrate-based inflators from the nation’s roads and highways. Furthermore, the effectiveness of any recall is tightly linked with recall response rates. If a significant number of drivers fail to seek repair or drivers seek repair but are forced to wait for extended periods due to parts unavailability, the recall will be less effective.
Since the recall is not expected to cover ammonium nitrate-based airbags that use a desiccant to prevent moisture build-up, certain open questions remain. For instance, does the desiccant remain effective over extended periods of time? Do all airbag inflators containing the desiccant utilize the same amount of drying agent? Is this amount or these amounts sufficient to absorb moisture in all climates? Finally, a lack of a means for consumers to determine whether the desiccant has become saturated and unable to protect the ammonium nitrate propellant is also troubling.
These are issues that likely require further study. Furthermore, since the defect is known to become more likely over time, it is at least possible that additional expanded recalls will occur as newer vehicles age into an increased risk of defect occurrence.
If You Were Injured by a Defective Takata Airbag, Contact a Philadelphia Personal Injury Lawyer of The Reiff Law Firm
If you have suffered a serious, life-altering injury due to a defective airbag or a defective vehicle, the strategic and aggressive Warminster, Pennsylvania car accident lawyers of The Reiff Law Firm may be able to fight for you. If your loved one has been wrongfully killed due to a vehicle defect we may be able to fight to hold the responsible party accountable. To schedule a free, confidential consultation with our strategic and aggressive legal team call (215) 246-9000 today.