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Airbag recall expanded to include 34 million vehicles

Tennessee motorists may wish to visit a website provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to find out if their vehicle is included in what safety experts say is the largest vehicle recall in history. The auto parts maker Takata had already recalled approximately 18 million vehicles because of defective airbags, but that number has since been doubled. Many of the vehicles involved were manufactured by Honda, but Takata also provided airbags to several other manufacturers for installation in vehicles produced between 2000 and 2011.

The Japanese company has been widely criticized for resisting the efforts of regulators to get their defective products off the road, but recalls were ordered when exploding airbags were linked to five U.S. deaths. The victims were drivers and front seat passengers hit by shrapnel following an airbag explosion. The faulty airbags have also been linked to at least 10 serious injuries.

Takata initially claimed that the airbags concerned only presented a safety risk in areas prone to high humidity. Regulators initially agreed with the auto parts manufacturer, but they later adjusted their decision and ordered a wider recall. Takata has been fined $14,000, the maximum allowed under U.S. law, each day during the crisis for its lack of cooperation with authorities. The fines levied against the company had amounted to $1.2 million by May 19.

This recall indicates that manufacturers are often reluctant to admit that their products may be dangerous even as evidence mounts that people are being killed or injured. An attorney with product liability experience may seek to hold companies financially responsible when the products they make cause injury, loss or damage. This kind of litigation may seek to compensate the victims of defective products while providing a warning to other manufacturers that failing to act responsibly could lead to civil sanctions.

Source: CNN, "Airbag maker Takata announces largest auto recall ever", May 19, 2015

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