An investigation shows that the Japanese airbag manufacturer Takata may have manipulated data to hide flaws in its products. Airbag ruptures in cars outfitted with these products have been linked to 10 deaths and over 100 injuries. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration had previously recalled approximately 29 million airbag inflators, many of which were in vehicles driven by Florida residents.
The problem with the airbags is a result of humidity, design and manufacturing issues and ammonium nitrate, a dangerous chemical used in the faulty airbags. When exposed to moisture, the chemical can erupt explosively, spraying shrapnel into the interior of the vehicle. The NHTSA has been investigating whether the previous recall should include another 70 to 90 million airbag inflators containing ammonium nitrate.
Internal Takata documents reveal that company officials argued that data on faulty inflators was manipulated to hide the problem. A redacted document indicates that a manager informed a senior vice president of quality assurance that proposed limitations to a 2013 recall might be “a violation of our moral obligation to protect the public.”
Lawmakers are advocating for a more aggressive approach to the ammonium nitrate airbag recall. Some argue that the current recall may have to be expanded because the replacement airbag inflators are just as dangerous as the ones that have been recalled. The NHSTA has stated that the replacement airbags may be safe for a few years but not for the entire life of a vehicle and may also need to be replaced.
Injuries caused by design defects often lead to costly medical expenses and other losses. Those who have been injured by defective or dangerous products may want to meet with an attorney in order to determine how best to seek compensation from the manufacturer or distributor.