Takata Airbags Lawsuit
(Updated Jan. 8, 2018)
Takata airbags use ammonium nitrate, a volatile chemical that can cause the airbag to deploy aggressively, injuring passengers. The airbags can even explode, spraying metal shards into the car’s cabin. Drivers and passengers who have been harmed by defective Takata airbags have filed lawsuits against Takata and automakers like Honda.
Takata airbags can explode, spraying metal shards into the car’s cabin.
Japanese auto safety parts manufacturer Takata is one of the world’s largest airbag suppliers. While airbags are designed to prevent injuries and fatalities, Takata’s have the dubious distinction of causing at least 20 deaths (12 in the U.S.) and more than 180 injuries worldwide.
Tens of millions of U.S.-sold vehicles contain Takata airbags that are ticking time bombs, capable of sending metal shrapnel shooting into the cabin upon deployment. To find out if your vehicle might contain these dangerous airbags, use the NHTSA’s VIN look-up tool.
How Long Has Takata Known Its Airbags Are Defective?
Takata has known since at least 2004 that its airbag inflators could rupture and spew metal debris. Sadly, the company waited until 2015 to formally acknowledge the safety risk and issue a nationwide recall. In 2015, the U.S. Department of Traffic hammered Takata with a $200 million fine for delaying and denying the release of information that could have prevented motorist harm.
In January 2017, Takata pled guilty to criminal misconduct and reached a $1 billion settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice. While $850 million of that sum is for automakers impacted by defective Takata airbags, and $25 million serves as a fine, $125 million will go toward victim compensation.
In June 2017, Takata filed for bankruptcy. The company then agreed to be acquired for $1.6 billion by Chinese-owned Key Safety Systems.
Victims of exploding Takata airbags continue to file personal injury lawsuits against the company. If you or a loved one was harmed by a defective airbag, contact us today for a free legal consultation. You could be owed money.
What Causes Defective Takata Airbags to Explode?
Airbag-related injuries and even deaths do happen. The safety devices are deployed with an explosive outburst that, on rare occasions, breaks noses and bones, and causes spinal injuries. But the injury risk is usually limited to short-statured people, children, and the elderly. Generally the number of lives saved and injuries prevented through airbag use far outweighs the risk they pose.
Takata is the only airbag maker that uses the volatile chemical ammonium nitrate.
Takata airbags are a different story. A design defect with the airbag inflator—a metal cartridge containing chemical propellant—can cause the inflator to aggressively deploy the airbag or even rupture and shoot out metal shards. To date, Takata airbags have killed 20 people worldwide and injured at least 180.
A Democratic Senator described the deadly Takata airbag flaw as “in effect a live hand grenade in front of a driver and a passenger.”
Takata uses the volatile chemical ammonium nitrate as inflator propellant. It is the only airbag maker to do so. An independent testing lab has determined that the ammonium nitrate can destabilize when exposed to heat and humidity over the long-term, and that problems with the inflator assembly might allow moisture to seep in.
Based on the location of accidents involving exploding Takata airbags (mostly warm weather states such as Florida, South Carolina, and Alabama), the association with heat and humidity was long suspected.
Internal company emails show that Takata employees had concerns about high temperatures in 2006—nine years before a nationwide recall was issued. In an email exchange from the same year, one employee told another, in regards to fudging data to hide potential safety problems, “Happy manipulating.”
Takata discovered issues with airbag test results as early as 2000, and the company ran secret tests after a 2004 airbag rupture raised red flags. The test results, which confirmed the company’s fears about faulty inflators, were swept under the rug and not reported to federal authorities.
To further conceal the defect, Takata entered into confidential financial settlements with several people injured by ruptured airbags between 2004 and 2007.
What Types of Injuries Can Occur from Takata Airbags?
Injuries from exploding Takata airbags can be downright gruesome.
Police responding to the scene of a minor car accident in California believed the driver had been shot in the face. At another crash site in Georgia, police thought the female driver was a murder victim because of the wounds on her throat. In both cases, the drivers died. The cause of their injuries: a Takata airbag.
In another incident, shrapnel from a Takata airbag tore into a woman’s carotid artery. She nearly bled to death but survived and now claims that her blood loss led to strokes, a seizure, and a speech disorder. A woman involved in a minor Florida car accident had a piece of shrapnel fracture her nasal bone and embed in her eye, blinding her. A Puerto Rico fender-bender left a woman with a sliced open jaw.
Airbag deployment is basically a controlled explosion that uses the same type of technology found in military munitions. Takata airbag flaws can result in excessive pressure that releases the airbag too fast or even fragments the metal canister, producing injuries such as these:
- Cuts/lacerations to the face, neck, throat, torso, or arms
- Broken/fractured bones
- Broken teeth
- Loss of vision in one or both eyes
- Larynx or vocal cord injury
- Complications from blood loss
- Permanent disfigurement
- Permanent hearing loss or impairment
- Mild to severe brain injury
- Injury to pregnancy
- Nerve damage
- Facial/neck/limb paralysis
Which Cars Are Being Recalled for Airbags?
Roughly 65-70 million vehicles containing Takata airbags require repairs as part of the largest auto safety recall in American history.
On January 6, 2018, Takata announced that an additional 3.3 million vehicles will require repairs due to recalled airbags. Automakers have yet to release the specific models affected by the latest recall, though it includes airbags found in some 2009, 2010, and 2013 vehicles made by Honda, Toyota, Audi, BMW, Fiat Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Nissan, Subaru, and others.
At present, here are the affected vehicles:
Affected Makes & Models
|2009–2014 TL||2006–2013 A3||2000–2011 3-series sedan|
|2003 3.2CL||2006–2009 A4 cabriolet||2000–2012 3-series wagon|
|2003–2006 MDX||2009–2012 Q5||2002–2013 3-series coupe & convertible|
|2005–2012 RL||2010–2011 A5 cabriolet||2001–2013 M3 coupe & convertible|
|2007–2016 RDX||2015 Q5||2002–2003 5-series|
|2002–2003 3.2TL||2005–2008 A4 Avant||2002–2003 M5|
2013-2014 ILX Hybrid
|2005–2008 A4 Sedan||2003–2013 X5|
|2009–2014 TSX||2003–2011 A6 Avant||2007–2010 X3|
|2010–2013 ZDX||2005–2011 A6 Sedan||2008–2013 1-series coupe & convertible|
|2017 R8||2008–2011 M3 sedan|
|2015 LaCrosse||2008 RS 4 Cabriolet||2008–2014 X6; 2010–2011 X6 Hybrid|
|2007–2008 RS 4 Sedan||2011–2015 X1|
|2015 XTS||2005–2008 S4 Avant||
2007–2009 S4 Cabriolet
2007–2014 Silverado HD
2007–2014 Escalade ESV
2005–2008 S4 Sedan
|2007–2013 Escalade EXT||
2010–2012 S5 Cabriolet
|2007–2011 S6 Sedan||2015 Malibu|
|2005–2010 Chrysler 300||2016–2017 TT||2007–2013 Avalanche|
|2007–2013 Silverado LD|
|2007–2009 Aspen||2007–2009 Dodge Sprinter||2007–2014 Suburban|
|2007–2017 Freightliner Sprinter||2007–2014 Tahoe|
|2008–2014 Challenger||2010–2017 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter||
|2006–2015 Charger||2008–2009 Sterling Bullet||2010–2015 458 Italia|
|2014–2015 458 Speciale; 2015 Speciale A|
|2004–2009 Durango||2012 Fisker Karma||2012–2015 458 Spider|
|2016–2017 488 GTB|
|2003–2008 Ram 1500/2500/3500 Pickup||2004–2011 Ranger||2016–2017 488 Spider|
|2005–2009 Ram 2500 Pickup||2005–2006 GT||2009–2014 California; 2015-2017 California T|
|2007–2010 Ram 3500 Cab Chassis||2005–2014 Mustang||2013–2017 F12; 2016–2017 F12 tdf|
|2006–2009 Ram 3500 Pickup||2007–2010 Edge||2016 F60|
|2008–2010 Ram 4500/5500 Cab Chassis||2006–2012 Fusion||2012–2016 Ferrari FF|
|2017 Ferrari GTC4Lusso|
|2001–2012 Accord||2007–2014 Sierra HD||
2001-2011 Civic NGV
|2007–2013 GMC Sierra LD||2001–2004 Infiniti I30/I35|
|2002–2011, 2016 CR-V||2015 Terrain||2002–2003 Infiniti QX4|
|2002–2004 Odyssey||2007–2014 GMC Yukon||2003–2008 Infiniti FX35/FX45|
|2003–2011 Civic Hybrid||2007–2014 GMC Yukon XL||2006–2010 Infiniti M35/M45|
|2003–2015 Pilot||2009–2015 XF||2007–2016 Wrangler|
| 2007–2013 Fit;
2013-2014 Fit EV
|2007–2012 Range Rover||2002–2010 SC430|
|2010–2014 FCX Clarity||
|2010–2014 Insight||2007–2010 MKX||2010–2017 GX460|
|2011–2015 CR-Z||2006–2012 Zephyr/MKZ||2006–2013 IS250/350|
|2003–2011 Mazda 6||2008–2014 IS F|
|2016–2017 570||2006–2007 Mazdaspeed 6||2012 LFA|
|2015–2016 650S||2004–2011 RX-8||
|2016 675LT||2004–2006 MPV||2005–2014 C-class (excl. C55 AMG)|
|2012–2014 MP4-12C||2004–2009 B-series||2007–2008 SLK-class|
|2011–2015 P1||2007–2012 CX-7||2007–2014 Sprinter|
|2007–2015 CX-9||2009–2012 GL-class; 2009–2012 R-class|
|2004–2007 Lancer; 2004–2006 Lancer Evolution||2010–2011 E-class|
|2001–2003 Maxima||2004 Lancer Sportback||2010–2015 GLK-class|
|2002–2004 Pathfinder||2006–2009 Raider||2011–2015 SLS AMG|
|2002–2006 Sentra||2012–2017 i-MiEV||2011–2017 E-Class Cabrio|
|2010–2017 E-Class Coupe|
|2005–2006 9-2X||2008–2015 XB||
|2012–2016 Model S||2003–2014 Legacy|
|2003–2013 Corolla; 2003–2008 Corolla Matrix||2006–2010, 2012–2014 Passat||2004–2011 Impreza (including WRX/STI)|
|2003–2006 Tundra||2009–2017 CC||2009–2013 Forester|
|2004–2005 RAV4||2010–2014 Jetta SportWagen||2006–2014 Tribeca|
|2010–2016 4 Runner||2010–2014 Golf||2012–2014 WRX/STI|
|2009–2013 Matrix||2013 Golf R|
|2011–2014 Sienna||2010–2014 Eos|
|2006–2011 Yaris (Hatch Back)||2015 Tiguan|
|2007–2012 Yaris (Sedan)||2009–2013 GTI|
If you drive any of the models above, contact your local dealer about getting your airbags replaced. You may also be entitled to compensation (see below: “Lawsuit Eligibility”).
Which Hondas Are Being Recalled for Airbags?
On June 30, 2016, transportation secretary Anthony Foxx issued a bulletin warning that a number of especially at-risk models had “as high as a 50 percent chance of a dangerous airbag inflater rupture in a crash.” Those models are as follows:
- 2001-2001 Honda Civic
- 2001-2002 Honda Accord
- 2002-2003 Acura TL
- 2002 Honda CR-V
- 2002 Honda Odyssey
- 2003 Acura CL
- 2003 Honda Pilot
Did Takata Hide Facts via Confidential Settlements?
Companies with something to hide often enter into confidential settlements with injury victims to prevent damaging facts from coming to light.
“They wanted to resolve this immediately. It almost seemed like they were going to pay us off to shut us up.”
This may be the case with Takata, as some early lawsuits were settled before victims’ lawyers acquired evidence. A Bloomberg review of a dozen Takata lawsuits found that five of them settled before information could be revealed in courts.
One plaintiff’s attorney said of Takata, “They wanted to resolve this immediately. It almost seemed like they were going to pay us off to shut us up.”
Lawyers and other experts say that such secret settlements keep information out of the public domain and help to explain why for so long there was so much confusion about the exact nature of Takata airbag defects.
What Do Takata Lawsuits Allege?
Evidence against Takata has reached a tipping point now that the cause of the defects has been revealed.
As more victims make the connection between their injuries and the airbags in their cars, they’re filing lawsuits that accuse Takata of the following:
- Fraudulently concealing the inflator defect in its airbags
- Failing to notify the public of the full and complete nature of the defect
- Not fully investigating and disclosing, and in fact downplaying, the prevalence of the problem
- Producing airbag systems containing an inherent, unreasonable, and dangerous defect
- Breaching its duty to consumers by negligently designing, manufacturing, testing, and selling unreasonably unsafe airbag systems
- Concealing the defective and dangerous condition of its airbags from vehicle owners, safety regulators, and the general public
Plaintiffs claim that, as a result of Takata’s negligence, they suffered injuries that could have been prevented. Had they known about the airbag defect, plaintiffs say, they would not have continued driving their vehicle without having repairs performed.
Lending even more validity to these cases, the state of Hawaii and the Virgin Islands (a U.S. territory) have sued Takata and Honda over their failure to warn residents of fatally defective Takata airbags.
What Kinds of Compensation Can a Plaintiff Receive?
A Takata lawsuit can provide compensation for the following:
- Bodily injury and resulting pain and suffering
- Disability/physical impairment
- Mental anguish
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Medical bills
- Lost wages/impaired earning ability
- Vehicle damage and other property damage
Who Is Eligible for a Takata Airbag Lawsuit?
You may be eligible for a Takata airbag lawsuit if:
- Your vehicle is equipped with a Takata airbag
- The airbag deployed aggressively or the inflator canister fragmented
- You suffered bruises, burns, cuts, or any of the other injuries listed in the “What Types of Injuries Can Occur?” section of this page
Importantly: It does not matter how the accident occurred. If your airbag malfunctioned, and you were seriously harmed as a result, you could be entitled to compensation.
It also possible to file a wrongful death lawsuit if you lost a loved one in an accident involving a defective Takata airbag.
Learn More During a Free Consultation
Only an attorney can determine whether you have a case against Takata. Our firm has a strong track record of taking on the automotive industry and winning compensation for clients. We have the experience and the resources needed to take on Takata and the automakers it supplied. We will not hesitate to take your case to trial if that means getting the best results.
Contact us to learn your rights and explore your options. Don’t wait; you may be owed money.