NHTSA: Automakers Ultimately Responsible for Airbag Recalls

Defective airbags manufactured by Takata Corp. that were known to have a risk of exploding triggered the largest automotive recall in U.S. history. The settlement of the consumer lawsuit demanded replacement of the defective airbags, whose ammonium nitrate inflators risked malfunctioning. As many as 20 or more automakers used the defective airbags.
Mark Rosekind, head of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT), recently said the vehicle manufacturers have the “ultimate responsibility” for the costs of replacing the airbags in older vehicles, mostly made by Honda, no matter what happens to Takata.

Honda said it is cooperating with regulators. According to Reuters, the “urgency of replacing the faulty airbag inflators could require knocking on doors or sending mobile repair teams to neighborhoods to fix vehicles,” Rosekind said. Honda associates have started conducting targeted home visits to owners of the older-model 2001-2003 vehicles with Takata airbags.

In December, the NHTSA issued an amended order to continue the acceleration of recall repairs for millions of U.S. vehicle owners affected by the Takata air bag inflator recalls. The order sets new requirements for automakers to certify to NHTSA when they have obtained a sufficient supply of replacement parts to begin repairs, and requires automakers to coordinate consumer messaging using best practices identified by NHTSA, industry and the Independent Monitor of Takata and the Coordinated Remedy Program. Under the Coordinated Remedy Program, NHTSA has committed to seeking a 100 percent recall completion rate from the vehicle manufacturers to protect the motoring public.

“The amended order will speed up the availability of replacement air bags, and continues to prioritize the highest risk vehicles to protect the traveling public,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. Added Rosekind, “NHTSA is doing everything possible to make sure that there are no more preventable injuries or deaths because of these dangerous air bag inflators. All vehicle owners should regularly check their vehicles for recalls at SaferCar.gov and go get them fixed at no cost as soon as replacement parts are available.”

Craig Follis has extensive experience in litigation, negotiating and settling suits, and providing legal opinions on liability and insurance coverage. You can reach him at (888) 703-0109 or via email at cfollis@lawyersva.com.

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