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In June 2014, approximately 900,000 vehicles with defective Takata airbags were recalled in two states, Florida and Hawaii. This recall, which has been expanded multiple times, now includes 17 million vehicles in the United States and 25 million vehicles worldwide. Recently, on April 16, 2015, Nissan expanded the recall to include 2004-2006 model year Sentra vehicles and Honda added 100,000 additional vehicles to the recall list on March 19, 2015. A complete list of recalled vehicles is set forth below.
According to regulators, heat and humidity can cause the propellant for the airbags to degrade which can cause the airbags to deploy suddenly even without a triggering impact and can cause the airbags to rupture sending hot metal shrapnel into the vehicle cabin. These exploding airbags have now been linked to hundreds of injures and 6 deaths where hot shrapnel caused fatal lacerations. In one instance, a mother of three reportedly bled to death in front of her three children after her airbag exploded sending shrapnel into her neck and chest.
According to a New York Times investigation, this problem was first reported to Takata and Honda in 2004 when an airbag in Alabama exploded, shooting metal fragments into the car’s interior and injuring the driver. Initially, this was deemed an anomaly which did not trigger a recall nor federal investigation. When 3 additional airbags in Honda vehicles ruptured in 2007, the automaker reportedly still neglected to involve federal regulators or issue a recall. It was not until late 2008 when the first recall was initiated which only included about 4,200 Honda vehicles.
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has an ongoing investigation into the scope of vehicles affected by Takata’s exploding airbags. In late 2014, NHTSA issued two Special Orders to Takata demanding documentation and other material relating to the ongoing investigation. When Takata failed to fully cooperate, NHTSA took the unusual step, on February 20, 2015, of levying a $14,000 per day fine to Takata until it fully cooperates with the agency’s investigation. NHTSA has also upgraded its investigation to an engineering analysis, a formal step in the agency’s defect investigation process.
NHTSA is also urging car owners with the defective airbags to immediately have the airbags replaced. However, a shortage of replacement parts has caused serious delays where some car owners are having to wait to many months before being able to repair the defective airbags. On April 21, 2015, NHTSA issued an order requiring Takata to preserve all air bag inflators removed through the recall process for NHTSA’s investigation as well as for the investigation by private litigation cases.
Although some of the vehicles recalled have only been recalled in certain states (including Texas), the list of affected vehicles is as follows:
|Dodge Ram Pickup||2003-2008|
|General Motors||Pontiac Vibe||2003-2005|
|Acura 3.2 CL||2003|
|Acura 3.2 TL||2002-2003|
Houssiere, Durant & Houssiere, LLP has years of experience helping victims injured by automotive defects. If you, or a loved one, has been injured by a defective airbag, contact our offices for a free initial consultation about your rights.