After the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration denied its appeal, the automaker finally agreed to recall 2.6 million vehicles which contain defective Takata airbags.
The recall affects a number of Ford, Lincoln, and Mercury vehicles manufactured between 20016 and 2012. Ford initially refused to recall the vehicles, claiming that an anti-moistening agent eliminated the risk of airbag explosion. But regulators were unconvinced. The recall also affects several thousand Mazda B-series pickups. These vehicles are Ford Ranger clones which were made in St. Paul, Minnesota.
If you think this or any other recall might affect your vehicle, don’t wait for a notice. Instead, click here and enter your VIN number.
Takata Airbag Issues
When they work properly, airbags are engineering and safety marvels which have saved countless lives since the 1970s. When they work improperly, airbags are perhaps the most dangerous items ever placed in passenger vehicles.
An airbag’s chemical propellant is perhaps its most crucial component. Airbags must respond appropriately to crash sensors and inflate, without exploding, in less than a heartbeat. When it began making airbags in the late 1990s, Takata used tetrazole, a stable chemical propellant that effectively did the job.
By 2001, the company had switched to ammonium nitrate. This volatile substance is basically the same chemical domestic terrorist Timothy McVeigh used in the 1995 Oklahoma City truck bomb. Ammonium nitrate is also quite unstable in high heat and humidity environments, like a Missouri summer.
As a result, Takata’s airbags often improperly inflated after low-speed collisions. Furthermore, the airbags did not “inflate.” Instead, they exploded. These explosions exposed drivers to a cheat and head-full of dangerous shrapnel from a shattered steering column.
Your Legal Options
If a defective Takata airbag injures you or a loved one, a St. Louis defective products attorney can usually offer several legal options.
Takata declared bankruptcy shortly after it paid a record fine, but a new company bought it. So, injured victims might be able to sue Takata’s successor entity. But these actions have a number of problems. Most likely, this new entity did not design and build the defective airbag. Furthermore, it’s difficult for U.S. residents to file claims against overseas companies.
As a condition of its bankruptcy, a federal judge ordered Takata to establish a large settlement fund. Victims may claim a piece of that financial pie. However, fund administrators are notorious stingy. Without good legal representation, many settlement fund victims wind up settling for less.
Finally, an action against the vehicle manufacturer might be possible. Ford and other companies have a legal duty to notify owners about safety problems. However, these notifications often only go to record owners. Many used vehicles are on their second, third, or even fourth owner. If the notification failure caused injury, the vehicle manufacturer could be legally responsible for damages.
Even today, defective Takata airbags still cause serious injuries. For a free consultation with an experienced defective products attorney in St. Louis, contact Schultz & Myers, Personal Injury Lawyers. You have a limited amount of time to act.