The fund established to compensate victims of Takata’s defective airbag inflators is writing more checks. The fund administrators have announced they are paying an additional $46 million to settle 161 more claims.
The fund has already paid out billions of dollars after the largest auto recall in history. The airbag inflators can degrade over time and explode, spraying the inside of the vehicle with tiny bits of metal.
The faulty airbags have been linked to 18 deaths in the U.S. and hundreds of injuries. Worldwide, there have been at least 27 fatalities.
The fund to compensate victims was set up in 2018 as part of Takata’s bankruptcy and its previous guilty plea to criminal charges. The latest claimants received initial payments earlier, but Eric Green, who manages the fund, said that additional funding secured by the Takata Trust and a re-estimation of the number of claims the funds expect to receive in the future have enabled the funds to make substantial supplemental payments.
Good news and bad news
"The good news is that the funds have obtained more money and we now estimate fewer claims in the future,” Green said.
But there is also some bad news. Green said the fund expects hundreds of additional claims in the future because not all the cars with the defective airbags have been repaired.
Many are older vehicles that have changed hands numerous times, so the current owners may be unaware of the original recall. Green calls these vehicles “time bombs getting more dangerous by the day.”
"The most important message to owners of cars that still have these defective inflators is to get them out of your car," Green said. "Don't wait another day. They are getting older and more dangerous. If you have a Takata inflator that has been recalled, get it out now.”
Check your VIN
To determine whether a vehicle is subject to the Takata airbag recall, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has set up this web portal where owners can enter the car’s vehicle identification number (VIN).
The recall began in 2008, but as recently as November, General Motors (GM) recalled 7 million 2007-2014 model pickup trucks and SUVs that contain the potentially lethal Takata airbags.
Those models include Chevrolet Silverado 1500, 2500, and 3500 pickups; Chevrolet Suburban, Tahoe, and Avalanche vehicles; GMC Sierra 1500, 2500, and 3500 pickups; and various versions of the Cadillac Escalade and GMC Yukon.