South Carolina resident Joel Knight was killed in late December 2015 when his defective Takata airbag exploded into shrapnel after he crashed into wandering cattle. The Ford Ranger he was driving at the time of the accident had never been recalled for a defective airbag, nor did he ever have information regarding the fact that a Takata airbag was in his vehicle. The needless death of Mr. Knight has once again raised an alarm, but will anyone hear it?
Takata Airbag Recalls Moving as Slowly as Possible
Despite the tens of millions of vehicles placed on a recall list for dangerously defective Takata airbags, only 30% of them have been repaired due to slow responses from the manufacturer, automakers, and safety administrations. To make matters worse, there are just about 26 million more Takata airbag inflators on the market that could be just as dangerous yet have not been recalled. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports it does not have the authority to make an outright recall on such a wide scale without specific evidence. It is currently unknown to the agency why some inflators will explode catastrophically and others will not, despite them being manufactured on the same assembly line and to the same standards. Ammonium nitrate is still the prime suspect, however.
No automakers since the recall began have offered a widespread loaner vehicle policy to its customers in regards to cars with Takata airbags. In particular, Ford has encouraged their drivers to keep using their “safe” vehicles until replacement parts arrive. They have even gone as far as denying people seeking loaner cars during airbag repairs, despite the process sometimes taking several months.
(For more information, The New York Times has published a full article discussing Mr. Knight’s fatal accident here.)
While Takata, regulators, and automakers seemingly take their time in handling this massive crisis, more and more vehicles may keep adding to the already-sizeable list of recalls. If you have questions about your rights as an owner of a vehicle with a Takata airbag, or if you need to file a lawsuit for injuries sustained while driving such a vehicle, you can speak with our Columbus personal injury attorneys at Rourke and Blumenthal LLC. With 75+ years of collective legal experience and an AV® Preeminent™ Rating by Martindale-Hubbell®, you can trust to handle your case with care and professionalism.
Dial 614.321.3212 for a free case evaluation today.