Takata Airbag Scandal Reaches New Settlement, Four Automakers To Pay $553 Mil

According to a news release, plaintiffs in the Takata Airbag Product Liability Litigation filed class action settlement agreements resolving claims against Toyota, Subaru, Mazda and BMW that will accelerate the removal of risky airbag inflators from 15.8 million affected vehicles while also compensating consumers for their economic losses.

Plaintiffs' attorneys said Thursday the automakers have agreed to pay $553 million to settle a lawsuit filed in federal court in Miami.

Outreach Program: The Settlement Special Administrator will oversee and administer outreach programs with the goal of significantly increasing Takata recall remedy completion rates among customers of the four automakers through traditional and non-traditional means.

Takata airbag inflators have been linked to at least 17 deaths and more than 180 injuries worldwide. The issue has been linked to at least 11 deaths in the US and 180 injuries.

The settlement would compensate owners for things like lost wages or child care while they were taking their vehicle in for the recall fix. Takata has been searching for more than a year to find a financial sponsor to pay for costs to replace its inflators, which are at the centre of the auto industry's biggest-ever recall.

Just over 30 percent of Toyota and Subaru vehicles have been fixed, and that number is under 20 percent for Mazda and BMW, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

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Automakers would be required to provide free rental cars to owners of the highest-risk cars. The agreements don't constitute admissions of liability on behalf of the automakers and cover vehicles that have been, or will be recalled for Takata phase stabilized ammonium nitrate airbag inflators. These costs can include rental cars, child care, lost wages, or any other reasonable costs associated with bringing in a vehicle for repairs.

The potentially defective airbags, which can spray shrapnel into occupants, are on more than 42 million vehicles worldwide.

Similar economic-loss claims against Honda, Ford and Nissan have yet to be settled. As part of the settlement, the company agreed to establish two independently administered restitution funds - one worth $850 million to compensate automakers for recalls and the other worth $125 million for individuals injured by its airbags who have not already reached a settlement.

Toyota, Subaru, Mazda and BMW are the first automakers to exit the massive MDL, which covers the largest auto recall in USA history.

Takata agreed pleaded guilty to fraud in February after agreeing to pay a US$1 billion penalty.

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