Takata airbags have caused numerous vehicle recalls. The issue is that the airbags are prone to explode and send metal shards flying in relatively minor car crashes such as rear-end collisions.
Until now, Takata has shouldered the blame for the defect. However, as reported by The New York Times, recent claims suggest that at least four automakers knew about the defect and continued to use the unsafe product.
Where did these claims come from?
The recent accusations stem from an investigation into documents from four automakers: Honda, Nissan, Toyota and Ford. The class-action lawsuit asserts that the automakers were aware of the defect but, as a cost-savings measure, continued installing the airbags in their vehicles. The companies named in the claim either have denied the allegations or refused to comment on them.
Why is this important?
Until now, the car companies have been painted as an unsuspecting victim of the defect, like the 100-plus people injured or killed as a result of the defect. However, if these car companies knowingly installed the unsafe product in their vehicles, they too should be accountable for damages.
This can make a huge difference in terms of financial compensation for victims. Instead of the $125 million that Takata agreed to pay in a plea deal, there could be several more millions of dollars available from the car manufacturers.
In light of these discoveries, there have been requests to reject the plea deal from Takata, as it asserts – wrongfully, according to recent claims – that Takata was solely responsible for the defect. Whether that happens or not, and whether the Justice Department will continue to investigate the claims regarding liability on the part of the carmakers, remains to be seen.
One thing that you need to understand is that assigning liability in a product liability claim can be complicated. Doing so accurately and after a thorough investigation is critical to ensuring fair compensation to anyone dealing with the loss of a loved one or struggling to recover from a serious injury.