Honda Motor admitted it failed to report over 1,700 injury or death claims involving its cars in the United States. The admission reflects both widespread secrecy agreements demanded by defendants in injury cases and the inability of the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration(NHSTA) to monitor big manufacturers.
Honda admitted this as a result of information disclosed by the investigation of Takata airbag inflator ruptures. The airbags can go off shooting shrapnel into the passenger compartment. Injuries from the improper airbag deployment include serious facial lacerations, fractures, and in one case, decapitation, along with other injuries.
As a personal injury attorney I have done investigations of product defects. Those who called me were injured, but fortunately did not have life threatening injuries. Many of the injuries from product defects, such as the Takata airbags go unreported.
Most people would not contact the NHTSA or realize the detonation of an airbag was caused by a known product defect or that their car stalling, while traveling was caused by a defective ignition switch. As for the ignition switches, for years the NHSTA did not have good knowledge of the extent of dangers caused by the defective part. GM knew, but kept on putting the dangerous switches in cars, causing further injuries to people. This is why secrecy agreements, sometimes called confidentiality agreements, should be illegal.
With confidentiality agreements, the companies take the legal positions that the defective products are safe, and when required to pay for the harm they cause, they demand secrecy agreements from the injured individuals. The dangers are hidden from the public and the extent of the danger of the product is hidden from governmental agencies. When manufacturers hide known defects and continue to cause bodily harm, it is not good for the public, and often you not good for the companies in the long run. And it is plain wrong.