On June 23, 2014, major auto manufacturers Honda, Mazda and Nissan recalled an additional 3 million vehicles worldwide for defects in airbags supplied by Takata Corp. The total number of vehicles recalled for the same airbag now reaches 10.5 million. Vehicles from Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Mazda, Ford, Chrysler, and BMW have been affected. The airbags’ defect was caused by the degradation of propellant used in airbag canisters from improper storage and exposure to moisture. The degraded propellant results in two potential risks: first, the air bag could deploy unexpectedly and without a trigger, even if the car is stopped; second, upon deploying, the airbag inflators may rupture which could launch metal shards from the airbag canister into the driver and passengers. These shards are sharp enough to penetrate fabric and flesh, and one case reported by Honda even involves shrapnel puncturing the driver’s neck and carotid artery.
Auto manufacturer Honda conducted its own investigation into the defective airbags, and found 30 injuries and two deaths in the U.S. related to the air bag inflators rupturing. A recent investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) into six reports of air bag inflator ruptures in Florida and Puerto Rico lead to this most recent round of recalls. Moisture and humidity appear to play a factor in triggering the airbags, and in addition to the worldwide recall, many auto manufacturers are instituting regional recalls that include Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, and Texas. If you own an automobile manufactured by Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Mazda, Ford, Chrysler, or BMW it is vitally important that you stay posted on all recalls issued in your region.
The airbag is a vital safety element in every automobile. In a collision, the airbag is the a significant protector against potential injury. When that airbag is defective and does not properly deploy, deploys at the wrong time, or launches shrapnel when deployed, there is a chance of life-threatening injury. If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident where the airbag did not function properly, contact the attorneys at Houssiere, Durant & Houssiere, LLP for a free consultation on what you can do to protect your and your family’s legal rights.