Investigators in South Carolina have determined that South Carolina resident Joel Knight was fatally wounded by a defective Takata airbag inflator in his Ford Ranger in late December 2015. The “safety device” exploded so catastrophically during a minor collision with a wandering cow, police first called to the scene initially believed he had been struck by a stray bullet. This marks the 10th official cause of death linked directly to Takata’s airbags, which have also caused hundreds of injuries, ranging from minor to life-threatening.
Mr. Knight’s surviving spouse has stated that he never knew the danger inside his Ford because it was never recalled. To make matters even more frustrating, there was never even any notification that a Takata part was installed in the vehicle. With an international recall of Takata airbags going on, how could such an oversight have happened?
Urgency is Not a Priority for Takata
Millions of automobiles driven by consumers have already been affected by the Takata airbag recall scandal, and yet the danger has only been reduced by a fraction of what needs to be addressed. Some estimations put a mere 30% of affected vehicles as being serviced since the recall began. More than 25 million more Takata airbag inflators capable of exploding still remain unrecalled.
While the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has forced Takata to begin the wide-scale recall – and even threatened it with $200 million in fines if they fail all of their standards – the going is still painfully, and fatally, slow. The trouble stems from no one using the proper amount of urgency for such a hazard that endangers so many people. Automakers have just as much responsibility to get the word out to their customers and offer alternatives to driving potentially dangerous vehicles, but none have made big efforts to do so. Chris Rouen, another South Carolina resident, was even flat-out rejected by Ford when he expressed his need for a loaner vehicle while his Mustang was recalled and repaired; the popular car manufacturer allegedly went on to say that it was safe to drive the affected vehicles until replacement parts are in stock for everyone.
[The New York Times has published a full article on related stories here.]
Everything points to one conclusion: not enough is being done to protect consumers from dangerous Takata airbags. At The Gilbert Law Group, our auto defect lawyers are wholly familiar with the strategies and arguments car part manufacturers and automakers try to use to defend themselves from customer lawsuits and accusations. With an in-house engineering staff dedicated fully to deconstructing and reverse-engineering defective car parts, we can provide insight for your case that nearly any other law firm cannot offer.