The Takata airbag scandal has affected tens of millions of vehicle owners across the globe, and the furore doesn't show any signs of abating. In February, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) introduced the first ever compulsory recall, which forces manufacturers in the country to take a more proactive approach to replacing faulty airbags.
Gerard Malouf & Partners has covered the issue previously on the blog, including the potential for product liability claims against the companies involved. But with the recall building momentum, here are the answers to some frequently asked questions about Takata's defective products.
What is the problem with Takata airbags?
Certain Takata airbags have a design fault that means the propellant inside the product degrades after being exposed to heat and humidity over time. This can cause the airbag to deploy too forcefully in a collision, rupturing the auto part's inflator and spraying metal shards out into the vehicle cabin.
What are the risks to drivers and passengers?
Most affected Takata airbags only malfunction 1 per cent of the time, but a particular type – known as alphas – have a 50:50 chance of deploying incorrectly. Takata airbags have so far been linked to at least 23 deaths and 230 car accident injuries worldwide, according to Product Safety Australia.
How many people have been hurt in Australia?
Takata airbags have caused one death in the country, with a 58-year-old man in Sydney losing his life when he was struck in the neck by shrapnel after his Honda CRV collided with another vehicle. A 21-year-old Darwin woman also suffered severe injuries in similar circumstances last year when involved in a low-speed crash.
Are the recalls working?
Manufacturers have voluntarily recalled approximately 2.7 million vehicles since 2009, but Product Safety Australia confirmed only 63 per cent of airbags had been replaced as at January 2018.
The compulsory recall requires suppliers to fit new airbags to all recalled vehicles, as well as a further 1.3 additional cars yet to be returned, by December 31 2020. Manufacturers that miss the deadline risk fines of up to $1.1 million per offence.
Is my vehicle fitted with a faulty airbag?
Twenty-four brands are caught up in the Takata scandal, and vehicle owners are urged to check whether they are affected as quickly as possible. Product Safety Australia provides a comprehensive list of all make and models of vehicle fitted with Takata airbags, including the particularly lethal alpha variant.
Can I make a product liability claim?
People who suffer injuries due to known design faults in goods may be eligible for compensation by pursuing a product liability claim. Get in touch with an experienced civil liability lawyer at Gerard Malouf & Partners Compensation, Medical Negligence & Will Dispute Lawyers to find out whether or not you could be entitled to damages.