Our law firm’s client lost his eye when a Takata airbag exploded and sprayed shrapnel throughout the vehicle he was driving (see video below). Metal shards punctured the trachea of another client when her vehicle’s Takata airbag inflated with excessive force during a relatively minor accident.
Unfortunately, our clients are among hundreds of motorists who have been severely injured by defective airbags manufactured by Japan-based Takata Corp. At least 23 people worldwide have died in incidents blamed on the defective devices.
This week, two major automakers recalled nearly 2.7 million vehicles equipped with the deadly airbags, adding to what is already the largest automotive recall in U.S. history. On Monday, Ford recalled nearly 1 million vehicles in North America, including seven Ford and Lincoln models.
Just two days later, Toyota recalled another 1.7 million vehicles, including 1.3 millon in the U.S. The recall involves front passenger airbag inflators in Lexus and Toyota vehicles, including popular models like the 4Runner, Corolla and Sienna.
The Takata airbag recall has impacted virtually every major automaker. Takata’s airbag inflators contain ammonium nitrate, a dangerously volatile compound that acts like a propellant to create a small explosion to inflate the airbags in a crash. The metal inflators, along with the airbag cushion, are located within the steering wheel.
When a crash occurs, a signal is sent to the vehicle’s electronic control unit, causing the propellant to ignite and begin emitting gas from the inflator, which in turn causes the airbag to fill with gas and deploy. But, ammonium nitrate can deteriorate and become unstable over time or when exposed to high heat and humidity, causing the propellant to burn too fast; blow apart the metal inflator; and shoot shrapnel into the faces and necks of vehicle occupants.
Consumers are urged to get their vehicles to dealers as soon as possible for replacement parts. Both Ford and Toyota have online resource centers where motorists can check to see if their vehicles have been recalled.