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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 has increased to now include at least 7.8 million vehicles in the United States. According to regulators, heat and humidity can cause the propellant for the airbags to erupt sending hot metal shrapnel into the vehicle cabin. [/feature_headline] These exploding airbags have now been linked to 139 injuries and 3 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.
On Wednesday, October 22, 2014, two senators (Senator Richard Blumenthal and Senator Edward J. Markey) and a House committee are demanding a full accounting from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration of how the recalls were handled, including why automakers have been allowed to limit the recall to certain geographic areas. The senators sent a letter to Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, whose agency oversees NHTSA, stating, “NHTSA should immediately issue a nationwide safety recall on all affected cars, regardless of where the car is registered. All states experience seasons of heat and humidity.”
NHTSA is now 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. One automaker, Toyota, has responded to the delays by approving the disabling of passenger-side airbags with an instruction to owners not to use that seat until the airbags can be fixed.
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.