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Many Are At Fault For Takata Airbag Recall Failures

There is plenty of blame to go around for the slow pace and delays of the Takata airbag recall

Friday, September 28, 2018 - Takata Corporation, based in Japan, manufactured the faulty Takata airbag. Under pressure from major automakers looking to cut costs, the company replaced the airbag's propellant chemical with ammonium nitrate, a relatively unstable chemical responsible for the airbag's explosions and deployment. Automakers are coming under increasing suspicion for their role in forcing Takata to replace the propellant chemical.

According to, "General Motors Co, Volkswagen AG, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, and Daimler AG knew of problems with Takata airbag inflators and should have moved faster to recall vehicles, according to company documents cited by owners suing the automakers." The Department of Justice has called out the NHTSA for its failure to act sooner and more forcefully in enforcing the Takata airbag recall. According to the DOJ, the NHTSA underestimated the scope and severity of the Takata airbag recall by limiting their investigations to only the 10,000 motor vehicles originally reported to be at risk by Takata. The recall list has since expanded to include approximately 50 million vehicles worldwide. In addition, the NHTSA has been accused of poor oversight. reported, "A government audit released to Congress today said the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration's poor oversight of recalls may have left dangerous vehicles on the road for longer than necessary, including those affected by exploding Takata airbag inflators."

The Office of the Inspector General overseeing the Takata recall holds department heads at the NHTSA accountable for gross incompetence for the delays in fully implementing the Takata airbag recall and for not punishing automakers dragging their feet. The Department of Justice and the OIG are considering fining each affected automaker $1 million for each day they fail to fully comply with the recall order. Takata has already paid $1 billion in airbag-related fines to the US government.

Twenty-five people have been killed and hundreds seriously injured by exploding Takata airbags. The defective Takata airbag can explode and deploy due to environmental conditions such as high heat and humidity and with a force great enough to shatter the metal propellant container into razor-sharp shards. This shrapnel is instantaneously sent into the face and upper torso of the driver and passengers with a force similar to a hand grenade. Takata airbags deploy from relatively minor traffic accidents making the motorist's injuries look out of place. First responders often fail to make a connection between the crash and the airbag is the cause of injuries and deaths. Takata airbag drivers have reported having bled to death from a severed neck artery. Those fortunate to live have suffered gruesome facial lacerations, loss of an eye, and total or partial blindness.

The NHTSA expects the number of recalled vehicles to approach 75 million in 2019. That leaves 25 million vehicles currently untrackable using the NHTSA's website system.

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Onder, Shelton, O'Leary & Peterson, LLC is a St. Louis personal injury law firm handling serious injury and death claims across the country. Its mission is the pursuit of justice, no matter how complex the case or strenuous the effort. Onder, Shelton, O'Leary & Peterson has represented clients throughout the United States in pharmaceutical and medical device litigation such as Pradaxa, Lexapro and Yasmin/Yaz, where the firm's attorneys held significant leadership roles in the litigation, as well as Actos, DePuy, Risperdal and others. The Onder Law Firm has won more than $300 million in four talcum powder ovarian cancer lawsuits in St. Louis. Law firms throughout the nation often seek its experience and expertise on complex litigation.