Federal Officials Expand Investigation into Millions of Vehicles Over Airbag Failure
The death of Armando Vargas Ortega in Arizona after the Takata airbag inflator in his 2002 Honda Civic exploded takes the worldwide death toll for faulty Takata airbags to 24. According to a report in The Associated Press, Ortega died June 11, 2018, three days after the crash in Buckeye, Arizona. Ortega was struck by shrapnel from the airbag of his Honda Civic. His wife, Anjelina Medina-Ramirez, said the family was unaware about any existing recalls involving the vehicle and that the car was bought from another owner about three months before the crash.
So far, more than 200 people have been injured by the inflators, which have spurred the largest series of automotive recalls in U.S. history involving as many as 70 million inflators. About 100 million inflators need to be recalled globally. NHTSA issued a statement saying Ortega’s death is a “critical reminder of the serious nature of the Takata airbag recall and serves as an important call to action.” The agency urged vehicle owners to check for open recalls by keying in their 17-digit vehicle identification number into the NHTSA website nhtsa.gov/recalls.
Repairing Recalled Vehicles
Takata used the chemical ammonium nitrate to create a small explosion to inflate the bags. But, the chemical could deteriorate as a result of high temperatures and humidity and explode with such force that it spews metal shrapnel into the vehicle compartment. The deaths and recalls have forced Takata into bankruptcy. Its assets have been purchased by a Chinese investment firm.
There is no federal law that requires used car sellers to have their cars repaired for open recalls. Sellers also don’t have to, under the law, inform buyers about any unrepaired recall problems. The Civic that Ortega was driving has been under recall since December 2014 due to a faulty driver’s front airbag inflator. Honda said it had mailed out 12 recall notices over three years to previous owners.
The company also said it made more than 20 phone calls to reach owners. But, the repairs were never made. Honda is asking vehicle owners to get recalled vehicles repaired as soon as possible. Older models, especially those from 2001 to 2003 are most at risk, the company said. Ortega’s death is the 16th in the United States linked to defective Takata airbag inflators.
If You Have Been Injured
If you or a loved one has been injured by a faulty Takata airbag, please contact an experienced auto defect attorney who will remain on your side, fight for your rights and help you secure maximum compensation for your injuries, damages and losses. Automakers should be held accountable for the defective products they put on the market.