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Takata recalls 34 million vehicles over airbag concerns

In a move that will impact North Carolina car owners, Japanese auto parts maker Takata announced it is increasing the size of its ongoing massive recall of defective airbags. The recall, which is the largest one of automobiles in history, will involve around 34 million vehicles.

According to authorities, at least six people have been killed due to faulty Takata airbags, which can explode and then cause shrapnel to be shot towards the front seat occupants of a vehicle. Most incidents happened when the airbags deployed in car accidents, but at least one case involved an airbag that blew up while a car was stopped at an intersection. Emergency crews reported that airbag victims looked as though they had been shot or stabbed.

The Center for Auto Safety said there have been several other airbag explosions that caused serious injuries to a vehicle's driver or front seat passenger. One woman suffered vision damage when flying debris struck her eye. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports it has not yet discovered the cause of the airbag malfunctions and admits replacement airbags may not solve the problem.

Takata, the fourth-largest airbag manufacturer in the world, had resisted issuing a full recall of the faulty airbags, alleging that only airbags in humid climates were in danger of failing. However, the company finally relented after the NHTSA began fining the company $14,000 a day, which added up to $1.2 million through May 26. The daily fines have ended, but Takata could be slapped with more penalties at a later date.

Any North Carolina resident who has been injured due to a defective auto part may benefit by speaking with an attorney. Depending on the details, it may be possible to file a products liability lawsuit against the manufacturer seeking compensation for medical expenses and other damages.

Source: CNN, "Airbag maker Takata announces largest auto recall ever," Chris Isidore and Rene Marsh, May 19, 2015

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