Japanese air bag manufacturer, Takata Corporation, faces $14,000 in fines per day from the U.S. federal government. As we’ve reported several times over the past several months, Takata faces a serious federal investigation pursuant to charges that the company made faulty and potentially dangerous airbag inflators. Although Takata officials say they have been cooperating with investigators, the company has refused demands to expand the airbag recall.
Takata allegedly flooded the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) with nearly 2.4 million pages of unorganized data, infuriating safety officials. U.S. federal law requires that Takata provide catalogued documentation of these data. The fines will accumulate until Takata can explain the documentation.
What’s the problem with the airbag inflators? The devices use a propelling force fueled by ammonium nitrate. If exposed to prolonged moisture, ammonium nitrate can burn extremely fast and potentially cause an explosion of the metal encasement upon deployment. Globally, investigators say that these airbag defects have led of the deaths of 6 people as well as 64 injuries.
While the investigation efforts continue, the U.S. government is taking steps at home and overseas to remedy the situation:
• Automakers are recalling vehicles en masse. More than 22 million vehicles have been recalled so far, including Acura, Dodge, Pontiac, Honda and Toyota models. Check SaferCar.gov to see if your vehicle has been affected by the recall.
• The NHTSA and the U.S. Justice Department are threatening Takata with court action, which will include employee depositions.
• The Grow America Act, a transportation bill, will raise the maximum automaker fine to $300 million (fines are currently capped at $70 million). This change would give NHSTA a larger budget and authority to stop defective autos and auto parts from being sold.
• The bill will also require used car dealers to get recalled vehicles repaired before they can sell them to the public.
Under current infraction fine limits, it could take almost 1.5 years for Takata to reach the maximum limit while still manufacturing faulty airbags. If the Grow America Act passes, the NHTSA will be able to act quickly and get any potentially affected vehicles off the roads.
Our Washington D.C. auto accident attorneys would be happy to provide a free and thorough consultation about your recent accident and possible case. Call or email us.