Toyota has announced that it will add 356,000 vehicles to its recall list of cars and SUVs that have potentially defective Takata airbags. The global recall includes 198,000 vehicles in the U.S., bringing the total number of Toyota vehicles recalled because of the airbag defect to 15.3 million.
The Takata airbag recall affects most major car manufacturers, not just Toyota. It is currently estimated that 19 million U.S. vehicles have been recalled to date because of the Takata airbag defect. Estimates are that 34 million U.S. vehicles are potentially affected.
The issue involves Takata airbag inflators and propellant devices that may deploy prematurely in an accident, shooting metal fragments into occupants of the vehicle. A New York Times report in September 2015 said there were 139 reported injuries from faulty airbags across all manufacturers and at least two deaths.
In that report, the Times said that Honda and other manufacturers were aware of the airbag defect long before any recall was initiated. By law, manufacturers are required to report any defect to federal regulators within five business days of the defect's discovery. The Times said that Honda had been aware of the defect as early as 2004, when an airbag explosion occurred in a 2002 Honda Accord in Alabama. The driver was injured, and the automaker settled the claim.
Takata redesigned the airbags at issue in the late 1990s to make them more compact and to reduce toxic fumes that earlier models released once deployed. The redesign included the use of an explosive metal canister, which is said to be the culprit in rupturing bags and spewing shrapnel.
The National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration (NHTSA) maintains a list of all recalled car makes and models on its website as well as a VIN look-up tool that consumers can use to determine whether or not their vehicle is involved in the worldwide recall.
If you have suffered injuries from an unsafe or defective product, the experienced product liability legal team at Showard Law Firm is here to help with compassionate, aggressive representation. Contact us today for your free consultation.