Plaintiffs in a class action lawsuit reached the settlement agreement on May 18, 2017 with Toyota, Subaru, Mazda and BMW. The money is intended to reimburse current and former owners for car rentals and other expenses such as lost wages, towing fees or child care incurred while waiting for their vehicles to be repaired, according to the New York Times.
The settlement will affect nearly 16 million vehicles but does not cover personal injuries allegedly related to Takata airbags.
Takata airbags have been the subject of massive recalls and hefty fines. Consumer Reports announced in January that the Takata inflator recall has tripled in size over the past year and will impact 42 million vehicles in the US. The total number of affected airbags ranges between 64 and 69 million.
In January 2017, the US Justice Department ordered Takata to pay $1 billion to the US Government for concealing information about its defective airbags, which have caused several deaths.
Takata airbag injuries have been linked to the airbag’s inflator, which can ignite with explosive force in a crash, spraying metal shards from the airbag throughout the cabin.
In March 2017, the issue of unrepaired, recalled airbags in used cars made headlines when a Las Vegas woman was seriously injured by a Takata airbag that was removed from a separate vehicle and installed in the used 2002 Honda Accord she was driving when she was injured.
A Florida man was also killed in 2016 while trying to repair his car when the airbag inflator on the vehicle ruptured. Ramon V. Kuffo, 81, died from accidental head trauma after the airbag inflator on a 2001 Honda Accord ruptured while he was trying to make repairs inside the car.
Kuffo's death is the 12th fatality in the US related to exploding Takata airbags. Eleven of those deaths have involved Honda vehicles, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
"The rupture occurred while an individual, who was not the vehicle owner, was attempting to perform unknown repairs inside the vehicle using a hammer while the ignition switch was in the 'on' position," Honda said in a statement. "This triggered activation of the airbag inflator, which ruptured during deployment of the airbag. The individual died the next day from injuries sustained when the airbag deployed."
READ MORE DEFECTIVE AIRBAG INJURY LEGAL NEWS
The proposed $553 million settlement to reimburse current and former Takata recall consumers is subject to court final approval.
"The process of fixing the tens of millions of cars equipped with the rupture-prone airbags will drag on for years," according to the New York Times. "Replacement parts remain in short supply, and many consumers have been unresponsive to recall notices."