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20 May 2017, 12:48 | Harold Aguilar
Four carmakers will pay $553m to settle claims over Takata airbags
Four automakers agreed to a $553 million settlement to address class-action economic loss claims covering owners of almost 16 million vehicles with potentially defective Takata airbag inflators, according to court documents filed on Thursday.
Plaintiffs' attorneys said Thursday the automakers have agreed to pay $553 million to settle a lawsuit filed in federal court in Miami.
Takata inflators, which may explode with extreme force and release metal shrapnel inside vehicles, are blamed for at least 16 deaths and over 180 injuries worldwide.
The airbags are blamed for 11 deaths and more than 150 injuries, though further cases are now under review. By 2019, automakers will recall 64 million to 69 million USA inflators in 42 million vehicles, regulators said in December.
The settlement will compensate people who own or lease vehicles affected by the air bag recall in a variety of ways, from providing rental cars to those who are deemed to be at the greatest risk to "a possible residual distribution payment of up to $500". It also provides compensation for economic losses resulting from the recall. As of April 28, only 32 percent of Toyota owners, 31 percent of Subaru owners, 18 percent of Mazda owners and 16 percent of BMW owners had completed the repairs, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The company's seeking a buyer in the aftermath of what was the biggest auto recall in history.
Auto makers will also reimburse some expenses such as for transportation, storing or towing charges, child-care bills and lost wages during vehicle repairs. They began in 2008 and cover around 100 million airbag inflators used in vehicles made by 19 automakers.
More than 14 million of the air bags have been repaired in the US, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. So far the air bags have been replaced in fewer than a third of the affected Toyota and Subaru vehicles and fewer than a fifth of those from BMW and Mazda.
Other automakers involved in class-action lawsuits over this scandal include Honda, Ford, and Nissan, but theirs have not been settled, Automotive News informs.
The settlement comes in the wake of mass recalls of airbags produced by Japanese company Takata.
Takata earlier this year pleaded guilty to criminal wrongdoing for providing misleading testing reports to auto makers on the air bags and agreed to pay $1 billion in penalties.
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