November 17, 2014

An analysis by Bloomberg News found that lawsuits are being settled before information could be revealed in court.

Subsequently, the confidential settlements are sealing off relevant information that other victims could use to pursue their own claims.

The suits pertain to injuries and deaths from defective Takata airbags that during an accident deploy with so much force shards of metal and plastic are propelled at the driver or the passenger. While the exact cause of the problem is still under investigation, it seems as though age and excessively humid climates play a role. Many of the recalls have been regional in nature, with only U.S. cars in the Deep South being affected.

Honda alone has confirmed 30 injuries and three deaths. Two additional deaths are being reviewed.

Damien Fernandez was injured in his 2006 Dodge Charger and settled with Chrysler less than a year after the 2013 crash.

"They wanted to resolve this immediately," his lawyer, Jason Turchin, said in an interview with Bloomberg News about the agreement. "It almost seemed like they were going to pay us off to shut us up."

Bloomberg reports that settlements are favored by automakers to avoid the cost of litigation and keep the terms confidential to discourage others from filing frivolous lawsuits.

Driver in NC Injured

A North Carolina driver filed a formal complaint with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) last month. The driver was injured in August when the airbag of his 2007 Ford Mustang deployed with such force that a metal fragment dislodged, cutting his leg.

In a Reuters report, Ford could not confirm that the Mustang was equipped with Takata airbags adding that airbags installed in Fords did not have the same risk of fragmentation as those used in other cars.

An expanded recall in October brought the number of affected Ford vehicles up to about 85,000.