On April 13, the U.S. government announced that if Takata cannot prove that the 85 million air bag inflators it manufactured that remain in vehicles are safe, they will all need to be recalled. More than 28 million have already been recalled. Some areas, including Florida, are targeted in particular for recall because high humidity is one of the causes of the deterioration of the ammonium nitrate used in the air bags.
Worldwide, 11 people have died and more than 100 have been injured due to the air bags inflators. When the ammonium nitrate burns too fast, it explodes with too much force. This causes the metal canister to spray shrapnel. If all the inflators are recalled, it is estimated that the total number recalled would be about 114 million. This would be the largest auto recall in U.S. history. A Florida senator is urging the NHTSA to recall all the inflators although the agency said in February that an immediate recall might create problems getting replacement parts and might not create safety benefits.
Takata has until the end of 2018 to demonstrate the safety of inflators without a drying agent are safe and until the end of the following year to demonstrate that those that do contain the drying agent are safe. By the end of 2018. the inflators must also be phased out of manufacturing.
People who are injured or whose family members are killed due to defective products might want to speak to an attorney about filing a lawsuit. A court might look at whether the company was aware of the defects and at what point it was aware in deciding whether there is liability. Damages awarded in a successful action may help pay for an injured person’s medical expenses or provide benefits to the surviving family members of a person who was killed.