Langdon & Emison recently resolved a lawsuit involving the highly publicized Takata airbag defect on behalf of a young man who suffered severe injuries as a result of a crash in Paducah, Ky.
More than 24 million vehicles in the United States have been recalled because they are equipped with defective airbags, manufactured by Japan-based Takata Corp., that can deploy and rupture or explode with excessive force and spray shrapnel into the vehicle compartment.
On July 22, 2014, Joshua Reliford was working at Kroger’s grocery store in Paducah when a fellow employee called and asked him for a ride to work. During the ride, Mr. Reliford was properly restrained in his Honda Civic, and just as he began to turn, he was struck by another vehicle. When the driver’s side airbag deployed, the airbag inflator exploded and shards of metal ripped through the airbag’s fabric.
Takata’s airbag inflators are manufactured with metal devices that emit gas in order to deploy the airbag cushion during a collision. This method relies upon a composition of chemicals, including ammonium nitrate, to serve as the propellant that generates the gas necessary to cause the airbag to deploy.
“The chemical propellant is housed within the metal inflators, and the inflator and airbag cushion are located within the steering wheel housing,” explained lead attorney Kent Emison. “When a collision occurs, a signal is sent to the vehicle’s electronic control unit, which causes the propellant to ignite and begin emitting gas from the inflator in order to cause the airbag to fill with gas and deploy.”
“These airbags were defectively designed and manufactured so that the metal inflator itself can rupture upon impact and shoot metal shrapnel through the airbag’s cushion and into the faces and necks of the vehicle’s occupants,” Emison said.
Mr. Reliford suffered severe and long-term injuries, including a brain injury, loss of his right eye and facial disfigurement. The case was settled before filing a lawsuit.
Defective Takata airbags have been linked to at 10 eight deaths and more than 100 injuries. The Takata airbag recall – touted the largest automotive recall in U.S. history – includes nearly 100 makes and models from 14 different automakers.