On October 20th the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration confirmed a 50-year-old woman who died after a car wreck last month in California is the 11th U.S. victim of Takata Corp.’s defective air bag inflators.
The victim was driving a 2001 Honda Civic which is listed among the roughly 313,000 model year 2001-2003 Honda and Acura vehicles that NHTSA warned owners this past June to stop driving because of a “grave danger” posed by that generation of Takata airbags. That population of vehicles contained Takata inflators that were never replaced under previous recalls and contained a manufacturing defect that elevates the chance that the inflator could rupture in a crash to as much as 50 percent, according to NHTSA.
By the end of 2019 almost 70 million Takata inflators in U.S. vehicles are or will be recalled. This recall effort is the largest safety recall in U.S. history and being coordinated by the NHTSA. According to their data, only 11.4 million Takata recalled inflators had been replaced as of October 7, 2016. This represents only about 36 percent of total number of airbags currently under recall and means that millions of cars with faulty airbags are still on the road.
Along with the 11th U.S. fatality, there have been another 5 fatalities reported globally and at least 100 serious injuries in the U.S. linked directly to the dangerous Takata airbags and inflators.
Since Takata first received reports in 2004 that one of its airbags had ruptured and sprayed the driver of the car with metal shrapnel, it has attempted to cover-up or downplay the risks associated with these deadly airbags. When the company’s own internal testing revealed that the steel inflators in several of the airbags tested ruptured when deployed, Takata responded by ordering the technicians who conducted the tests to delete the testing data from their computers and dispose of the airbag inflators.
Takata has knowingly manufactured and distributed a potentially deadly product and it is time they protect consumers fully disclose every single car that has their defective airbags.
It is important that owners who suspect their car may have defective airbags to check if their car is affected. This warning is especially urgent in Florida since it is believed that exposure to high heat and humidity will only accelerate the dangers posed by these defective airbags.
The easiest way to check a car’s airbags is to call a franchised dealer or look to the ownership sections on manufacturers’ websites for recall information. Owners can also use their vehicle identification number, VIN, and enter it into the NHTSA’s online VIN-lookup tool. The NHTSA website also has a list of vehicles affected by the recalls for quick review.
At Saunders & Walker we will continue to monitor the Takata recall and offer representation to anyone suspecting that they, or their relatives, may have been killed or injured by these dangerous airbags.
Admitted to practice law in all federal multidistrict litigation courts, the California State Bar and the Florida Bar. His philosophy is to provide aggressive, quality representations and seek fair compensation for individuals and their families who have suffered injury, death, or sexual abuse.