Manufacturers Under Fire for Defective Automobiles
Numerous auto manufacturers have made headlines recently regarding questionable behavior that likely resulted in injuries and deaths to many motorists. Any motorists injured due to a defective motor vehicle likely have the legal right to recover from the negligent company.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently issued a warning to Takata, a Japanese airbag manufacturer, regarding the recent recall of airbags used in several models of vehicles. The airbags have been reported to rupture and explode upon deployment, sending shards of metal out toward drivers and passengers in the car, resulting in at least four American deaths and numerous additional injuries. In June, Takata issued a small recall regarding airbags in Florida, Hawaii, and Puerto Rico, citing high humidity as the main cause of the malfunction.
Now, federal safety regulators at NHTSA have ordered Takata to expand the recall nationwide , or the company may face sanctions and penalties imposed by the federal government. NHTSA agents believe that a partial recall is extremely inadequate, especially since deaths from the faulty airbags have been reported in California, Virginia, and North Carolina. Additionally, the House Energy and Commerce Committee has held one congressional hearing and has scheduled another to investigate the actions–or inactions–of Takata regarding unsafe airbags. Some reports indicate that Takata knew of the potential airbag issues as early 2002, yet failed to protect motorists by issuing the proper, full-scale recall.
Honda’s Inaccurate Reporting
Since the Tread Act passed in 2000, all auto manufacturers have been required to provide information to NHTSA by filing an Early Warning Report (EWR) any time the company is notified of a serious injury or death that was potentially caused by an auto defect. The EWR system is meant to assist NHTSA in connecting injuries with a possible widespread defect issue and ordering safety recalls when necessary to protect motorists.
In October, a public letter issued by the NHTSA accused Honda of grossly underreporting injuries to the federal agency. For example, in 2013, auto giants issued the following number of EWRs:
- General Motors = 1,716
- Toyota = 1,774
- Honda = 28
Following the accusations, Honda ordered a third-party audit, which uncovered at least 1,729 EWRs that went unreported. Honda blamed the reporting errors on data and coding issues. However, evidence shows that an employee first raised concerns regarding underreportin in 2011 that were never addressed, so even if data and coding errors caused the problem, the problem went purposefully ignored for some time.
As a result of the recent underreporting admissions, Honda may face costly sanctions by NHTSA. Earlier this year, NHTSA issued a historical $35 million fine against General Motors as a penalty for not properly reporting information regarding a faulty ignition switch that resulted in numerous deaths. There seems to be a new trend for federal regulators to more aggressively hold auto manufacturers accountable for safety failures.
If you have been injured in any type of motor vehicle accident, you should speak with the experienced personal injury attorneys at the law office of Lavalle Brown & Ronan in Boca Raton for help.