As Takata airbag lawsuits continue to increase in U.S. courts, a new report suggests secret settlements in earlier personal injury lawsuits might have helped conceal problems with recalled airbags. Bloomberg News said the confidential settlements might also seal off information that plaintiffs in other Takata airbag lawsuits might have possibly used to pursue their claims.
As we reported last month, a Takata airbag recall was issued for more than 8 million vehicles in the U.S. by several automotive manufacturers such as General Motors, Chrysler/Dodge, Ford, Toyota/Lexus, Honda/Acura, Mazda, Mitsubishi, BMW, Subaru, and Nissan, due to airbags that could explode when deployed. The airbags could hit occupants with metal shrapnel, causing serious injuries.
According to the New York Times, Takata airbags have been linked to five deaths and at least 139 injuries. This recall has affected more than 12 million vehicles globally.
To date, the Takata airbag recall has been limited to humid parts of the country. However, as we reported on our blog, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has called for a national recall. This came after an airbag incident in North Carolina, outside the geographical areas that are covered by the current recall, was investigated. The regulator warned Takata and automakers that if such a recall were not instituted, it would use its own powers to order one.
More than a dozen lawsuits have been filed on behalf of Takata airbag victims in the years prior to the recall, according to Bloomberg. None of the suits have gone to trial and at least five have reached settlements.
Confidential settlements such as those involving Takata do occur, as Bloomberg points out. However, as legal and safety advocates stress, such arrangements conceal vital safety information and dangers from consumers and regulators.
A U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPMDL) has been asked to consolidate all cases filed in federal courts for coordinated pre-trial proceeding. On December 4th, the Panel will hear oral arguments in this matter.
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed as a result of a defective airbag or safety feature, you may be entitled to compensation for your damages. Contact one of our experienced Gacovino Lake attorneys at 1-800-246-HURT (4878) for more information.