After nearly ten years of denials, Takata Corp. has finally pleaded guilty to criminal charges regarding hiding severe risk of death and injury associated with exploding airbags. These airbags were responsible for multiple deaths and hundreds of serious injuries due to the expulsion of shrapnel from the airbag. Takata had fought the allegations for years, first insisting claims that the airbags were defective were untrue. After the defective nature of the airbags was established beyond all doubt, Takata moved on to denying they had any knowledge of the faulty design. Now, multiple executives from the company are facing extradition from Japan to American to face criminal charges of their own.
Millions of vehicles have been recalled, and it is still unclear if any of the automakers who used Takata airbags were aware of the danger. The punishment for Takata is extensive and includes:
- 850 million dollars to the automakers
- 125 million to victims and their families
- 25 million in fines
All told, Takata will be required to pay a billion dollars. But even this seems comparatively little considering the extent of the risk to consumers, especially considering Takata’s attempts to hide their negligence. Lawsuits are still pending against the company and the automakers, manufacturers who will receive significantly more compensation than the victims and their families.
The carmakers continue to insist they didn’t know the airbags were faulty, but safety proponents have wondered whether or not the manufacturers continued to use these airbags despite the safety risk simply due to lower cost. It would be nice if we could take the automakers at their word, but after Takata Corp. denied wrongdoing for a decade, only the full weight of the legal system can help us know for sure what the manufacturers did and didn’t know.
If you or someone you love has been injured or killed due to a faulty airbag, it isn’t too late to hold the guilty accountable. Though Takata has pled guilty, it is important to determine just how much the manufacturers knew and when they knew it. Please, consult with an experienced attorney who can ask the tough questions necessary to get those important answers.