Automaker Chrysler recently announced it will begin replacing airbags produced by Japanese manufacturer Takata in its cars amid fears that its Beta model airbags could malfunction in humid weather conditions. The recall will begin in Florida, Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands and looks to be the first step in a recall that could be as high as 371,000 vehicles in the Chrysler and Dodge/Ram family.
Chrysler vehicles affected by the Takata airbag recall include:
The national recall of Takata airbags stems from concerns the explosive chemical propellant used to deploy the airbag system can deteriorate and become unstable, leading a metal canister containing the inflator to become filled with pressurized gas. With unstable propellants and pressurized canisters the airbags can deploy in accidents that are not typically severe enough to require its ejection. More importantly the pressurized canisters containing the airbag inflators can rupture when triggered during an accident, sending shards of metal flying towards the vehicle’s occupants.
To date there have been five documented cases where vehicles equipped with the defective Takata airbags have been linked to deaths in car accidents. One driver, a 51 year old woman from Florida, sustained such gruesome injuries that local detectives had initially investigated her death as a homicide. Unfortunately for the victim and her family, a recall notice for the airbag in her vehicle came a week after she passed away from her injuries.
Less than two weeks after ranking members of the Senate Commerce Committee called for a Federal investigation into charges that Takata knew back as far as 2004 its Beta model airbags were faulty a grand jury in New York has issued a subpoena to Takata’s division in the U.S. The Senate Commerce Committee is also poised to issue its own subpoenas to compel Takata executives to answer charges it had for years covered up the defaults in its airbag systems when it destroyed data collected in secret tests conducted outside of usual company work hours.
Chrysler vehicles equipped with the faulty Takata airbags include the 300 series vehicle produced from 2005-2008 and the Aspen produced from 2007-2008. While Chrysler has scheduled its recall to begin in December the NHTSA is urging owners to check their VIN as soon as possible to be sure their car has been equipped with Takata airbags.
If you or someone you know has been hurt by a faulty Takata airbag in the course of an accident involving a Chrysler vehicle the experienced personal injury and product liability attorneys at the Cochran Firm’s Washington, D.C. office are here to help. We are actively investigating claims stemming from defective Takata airbags and are offering free, prompt, and confidential consultations to people who have been hurt by these faulty airbag systems. Due to strict deadlines we urge you to protect your rights and call us at 202-682-5800 or fill out a contact form at your earliest convenience.