At least 14 people have been killed and more than 100 have been injured by faulty inflaters made by Takata, a small Japanese airbag manufacturer. More than 100 million of Takata’s airbags have been installed in cars in the U.S. by General Motors and 16 other automakers. According to a recent New York Times profile, GM began doing its business relationship with the obscure Japanese company as a cost saving measure. This prioritization of the bottom line over consumer safety has resulted in death and serious injury.
According to the company’s former employees, Takata utilizes the cheap – but dangerous – compound ammonium nitrate in its airbag inflaters. For decades, the dangerous properties unique to ammonium nitrate have been known in the automobile industry. The compound can break down when exposed to moisture or temperature changes. This causes the airbag to violently rupture, causing serious injuries to drivers and passengers.
Takata was aware of the well-documented dangers associated with ammonium nitrate, but proceeded to use it anyway because it cut costs. The warnings of Takata employees advising against this decision were ignored. Unsurprisingly, Takata airbags were at one time as much as 30% cheaper as its competitors. Despite compelling evidence linking the airbags to deadly accidents, Takata continues to manufacture airbags with the compound ammonium nitrate, and automakers desperate to remain competitive continue to purchase them. These airbags appear in the 2016 models of seven automakers.
This is just one example of corporations cutting corners at the expense of consumers. When we allow these companies to regulate themselves, their incentive is profit – not consumer safety. For decades, the experienced attorneys at Swartz & Lynch have provided legal representation to the victims of defective and unsafe products. If you have been injured because of the negligence of another or because of an unreasonably safe product, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries.