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Takata under pressure from NHTSA in air bag recall

Vehicle owners in Kentucky may have heard about a recall involving air bags. The company responsible for manufacturing them, Takata, is currently producing replacement parts for the recall, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is urging them to increase the speed of production.

According to the NHTSA, Takata must conduct aggressive testing to ensure the safety of other air bags as well. The NHTSA has also requested expedited action on the part of vehicle manufacturers. They have asked manufacturers to work with dealers to keep customers better informed about the need to bring their cars in to have the faulty parts replaced. The total number of affected vehicles is 7.78 million.

The NHTSA is requesting information from Takata on the types of quality controls it is using, the number of replacement canisters it can produce, the potential for production increase and whether other suppliers can produce parts. The air bags are already allegedly responsible for two deaths. This could become a product liability issue for Takata.

Families of individuals killed by air bags or individuals who are injured by air bags may be able to file a lawsuit against the manufacturer. In general, it is necessary to prove negligence in such a case. This means demonstrating that the company did not behave in a reasonable fashion to ensure customer safety. Damages might include costs for medical care, lost wages and more.

An attorney may be able to advise individuals as to the best course of action. For example, whether or not the customer had the opportunity to take advantage of the recall may be relevant. Sometimes, a company may settle out of court for a substantial sum rather than endure the bad publicity of a court case.

Source: USA Today, "Takata pressured to speed up air bag recalls", Chris Woodyard, October 30, 2014

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