What Are Your Options if You Were Injured by a Takata Airbag?
The Takata airbag recall has become the largest and most complicated auto recall in U.S. history. The recall involves 19 automakers and roughly 37 million vehicles. Fifteen people in the U.S. have died from the defective airbags and hundreds more have been injured.
Earlier this month, Toyota recalled an additional 1.7 million vehicles worldwide for defective Takata airbags. The Takata airbag recall now includes more than 69 million airbag inflators in the U.S. and another 60 million worldwide.
The Danger of Takata Airbags
Takata airbags are at risk of exploding due to ammonium nitrate, which is the chemical used to inflate the airbag during a crash. The problem is that ammonium nitrate degrades after long-term exposure to heat and humidity. This can cause the inflators to become dangerously pressurized. When that happens, the airbags can explode and send shrapnel flying into the vehicle cabin.
There are various levels of risk for vehicles with Takata airbags. Those in older vehicles located in areas with high temperatures and humidity levels are the riskiest, and have been prioritized in the recall order. In fact, some vehicle owners have been urged to refrain from driving their vehicles until the airbags have been replaced due to the severity of the risk.
In 2017, Takata pleaded guilty to criminal wrongdoing, paying nearly $1 billion to resolve a federal investigation of its faulty airbag inflators. Last year, the company agreed to a $650 million settlement over consumer protection claims brought from 44 states and Wathington, D.C. However, Takata filed bankruptcy and will only end up paying a fraction of the settlement. This was following a criminal plea agreement with the U.S. Justice Department, in which Takata agreed to pay $125 million to victims and $850 million to automakers that bought its airbag inflators.
Responding to the Recall
Vehicles are still being added to the recall list, as recently as this month. If your vehicle has been recalled for defective Takata airbags, it’s imperative that you take it to be repaired as soon as possible. If you are unsure whether your vehicle still has an open recall, you can check at safercar.gov. Just search for your vehicle by your VIN number and you will be able to see whether or not your vehicle is part of the recall. If it is, contact your dealership right away to set up a repair appointment. The repair should be performed free of charge, and some dealers are also providing loaner vehicles to customers while they wait for the repair.
What to Do if You’ve Been Injured
Fortunately, there are some options available to those who have been injured or have lost a loved one due to the Takata airbag defect. There are two funds that have been set up to compensate people affected by the airbags. They are known as the Takata Individual Restitution Fund (IRF) and the Takata Airbag Tort Compensation Trust Fund (TATCTF). The IRF was established by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan and was part of the company’s criminal plea. The TATCTF is part of the Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Plan of Reorganization. Both exist to compensate individuals who have suffered personal injury or wrongful death by Takata’s airbag inflators. You can find out more about making a claim at the Takata Airbag Injury Trust website.
Deadlines for Filing a Takata Airbag Claim
As with any claim, there are deadlines for filing a Takata airbag claim through these trusts. According to the Takata Airbag Injury Trust website, if the accident occurred prior to April 10, 2018, then the claim must be submitted by April 10, 2021. Claims for accidents that occurred on or after April 10, 2018 need to be submitted no later than three years from the date of the accident (or the time limit allowed by the state law where the claim is being submitted).
“The Takata airbag defect has had a huge impact on so many people, and the issues are still causing problems all these years later. If you or a loved one have been injured by a defective airbag, make sure you file a claim within the allotted time. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to consult with a personal injury attorney,” said Attorney Walter Clark, founder of Walter Clark Legal Group.
Our firm has been handling personal injury cases throughout the California Low Desert and High Desert communities for over 30 years. With a 95% success rate, the California personal injury attorneys at Walter Clark Legal Group will fight to hold those responsible for your loss accountable and win compensation to cover medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. If you have been injured by a defective product and want to discuss your legal options, contact us today at (760) 777-7777 for a free consultation with an experienced personal injury lawyer. We have offices in Indio, Rancho Mirage, Victorville, and Yucca Valley and represent clients through the entire California Low Desert and High Desert communities.
DISCLAIMER: The Walter Clark Legal Group blog is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended as legal or medical advice. References to laws are based on general legal practices and vary by location. Information reported comes from secondary news sources. We do handle these types of cases, but whether or not the individuals and/or loved ones involved in these accidents choose to be represented by a law firm is a personal choice we respect. Should you find any of the information incorrect, we welcome you to contact us with corrections.