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The NHTSA Is Under Fire For Mishandling The Takata Airbag Recall

US Government agencies are blaming each other for failing to fully implement the Takata airbag recall in a timely fashion

Friday, August 31, 2018 - Bureaucracy at the National Highway Safety Administration may be responsible for the delays in fully implementing the Takata airbag recall, the largest automotive recall in US history. The US Department of Justice and other government agencies such as the Office of the Inspector General, overseeing the recall are accusing department heads at the NHTSA of gross incompetence in the way they have handled the vehicle recall crisis. The two agencies accuse the NHTSA of operating at a snail's pace in implementing the recall. To date, a little over one-half of vehicles equipped with the deadly Takata airbag have complied with the recall which started in 2013. Millions of drivers in the warmer states in the US and their passenger's lives are at risk every time they are in the vehicle, from shrapnel from the exploding Takata airbag. Owners of all vehicle subject to the recall are urged to take immediate action and bring their vehicle into the nearest auto dealer.

The Department of Transportation has accused the NHTSA of being too lenient on motor vehicle manufacturers and recommended fining auto dealers for each day that goes by that they do not comply with the immediate recall. The DOJ also cites a lack of accountability within the NHTSA and for failing to keep to their stated mission of keeping America's highways safe.

The Office of Inspector General reported that they were disappointed that Takata did not take their airbag problem more seriously. Initially, Takata assured the NHTSA that only 10,000 vehicles would ultimately be affected, however, over the years, as one automobile company after another has joined, the recall has grown to over 50 million motor vehicles. In addition, the NHTSA failed to appreciate the seriousness of the injuries that drivers and passengers of Takata airbag vehicles were sustaining, limiting their exploding airbag investigation to only those vehicles that were on the initial 10,000 vehicle list.

The DOJ and OIG have reported that the NHTSA is responsible for failing to give enough attention to the Takata airbag crisis and that major automobile manufacturers could be fined $1 million for each day they fail to fully comply with the recall order. Only hitting the auto manufacturers in the pocketbook will get them to wake up and prioritize getting the recalled car owners to take action.

Such a shot to the wallet was felt by Ford Motor Company as the company settled a class action lawsuit against them for $299 million dollars to help notify Takata airbag vehicle owners and to financially make it as easy as possible for them to take action. Government officials hope that the settlement serves as a model for other companies to set aside funds for inventory of replacement airbags as well as to provide loaner cars while their vehicle is being repaired. Auto dealers also face the problem of the delays in actually physically removing and replacing the airbags that were initially done in a factory setting and with assembly-line efficiency. Those same vehicles now require double the effort to take the existing airbags out and put new ones in, individually, one by one. Consumers across the United States injured by Takata airbag are filing a Takata airbag lawsuit, these cases will help to bring accountability within the automotive industry.

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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.