Airbags are designed to keep passengers safe in the event of a car accident. However, if an airbag is defective, it can lead to serious injury or death. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is charged with monitoring the manufacturing and safety of these items. However, the NHTSA's safety monitoring is only effective when the manufacturer provides accurate information. One airbag manufacture has been fined heavily for violating these safety standards and for not providing accurate information.
Takata manufactures airbags for cars driven in Louisiana and throughout the United States. The company is being forced to stop producing airbags with phase-stabilizing ammonium nitrate propellant. This defective condition is the reason why the airbags are being deemed a defective product. It ruptures unexpectedly and is believed to have caused seven deaths and 100 injuries throughout the nation. All Takata airbags using this propellant are currently being recalled.
The recall and record $200 million civil penalty that has been handed to Takata by NHTSA is enforceable by the Motor Vehicle Safety Act. This Act gives the NHTSA the right to accelerate recall repairs to any affected vehicles. As part of its punishment, Takata must pay $70 million in cash. The remainder of the settlement amount will be due if Takata does not meet the deadlines set by NHTSA to correct the problems with their product.
Some of the remedial measures include government oversight for the next five years. An independent monitor will be assigned to the company to insure that appropriate measures are implemented to phase out the defective airbags. In the meantime, the NHTSA continues to work to remove dangerous vehicles and parts from the stream of commerce.
However, recalling a product does very little to help those who are harmed by it. This is why those hurt by a dangerous product should take legal action. By filing a products liability claim, a victim may be able to recover the compensation needed to recoup his or her losses and move on with life.
Source: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, "U.S. DOT imposes largest civil penalty in NHTSA history on Takata for violating Motor Vehicle Safety Act; accelerates recalls to get safe air bags into U.S. vehicles," Nov. 3, 2015