Death count rises from deadly air bags, so do recall numbers

If just the mention of Takata air bags doesn’t send shivers up your spine you might want to check your pulse to see if you’re still with us. For anyone in Louisiana who may be unaware, Takata Corp. is a Japanese company that has been a major supplier of motor vehicle safety belts and air bags for decades. Since 2004, some bags have been known to be defective.

Investigations indicate that the chemical used in the inflator system sometimes degrades to a point where, if a bag deploys, it could do so with such force that it literally sprays individuals in the passenger compartment with potentially deadly shrapnel. To date, federal regulators have linked at least 10 deaths and more than 100 injuries to this defective product. Nine of those deaths happened in the United States.

Despite a history that traces knowledge of the problem back to 2004, the first recall didn’t come out until 2008. It covered just 4,000 Honda vehicles. Since then the scope of the recall has expanded. As of this week, some 28 million inflators in 24 million vehicles made by 14 different automakers are subject to recall.

There’s one particular problem with this situation, however, as highlighted by one market research company’s analysis. With as many as 54 million Takata inflators sold around the world since 2000, it means tens of millions more vehicles may need fixing, but repairs on already recalled vehicles are taking many months because of a shortage of replacement parts.

Product defects can be in either design or manufacture. In either case, if the fault results in a serious or fatal injury, victims have a right to hold the maker of the product and those companies that use them accountable. Consulting an experienced attorney is the first step in exercising that right.

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