Another person has been fatally injured by an exploding Takata airbag inflator bringing the worldwide death toll to at least 26 and the number of deaths in the United States to 17. According to a USA Today news report, the most recent death occurred Aug. 20 in Mesa, Arizona, in the crash of a 2002 Honda Civic, a statement released by Honda on Saturday, Oct. 3, said.
Takata used volatile ammonium nitrate to create a small explosion to inflate airbags in a crash. However, the chemical can deteriorate over time when exposed to heat and humidity. The explosion can blow apart a metal canister and hurl shrapnel into the passenger compartment. The problem caused the largest series of auto recalls in U.S. history, with at least 63 million inflators recalled.
Takata Recalls and Injuries
As of September, according to the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 11.1 million had not ben repaired. So far, about 100 million inflators have been recalled globally. Honda said in a statement that it inspected the Civic involved in the Mesa crash and determined that the inflator in the driver’s side airbag had ruptured. The inflator in the passenger airbag also ruptured. Honda said that particular Civic was recalled in December 2011 for the driver’s side inflator and in November 2014 for the passenger side.
The company said it mailed more than 15 notices to owners over eight years, but the repairs were never done. The company said it also made numerous phone calls and even visited the current registered owner’s home and left recall information. However, the driver who was killed in this crash was not the registered owner of the car, Honda said. Worldwide, these faulty airbag inflators have injured more than 200 people. Honda, which has the most Takata inflators of any manufacturer, urged owners of recalled Honda and Acura vehicles to get repairs done at a dealer as soon as possible. Vehicle owners can check their vehicle recall status at recalls.honda.com or recalls.acura.com.
Auto Product Liability Issues
This incident is a reminder that if you are driving or using a vehicle equipped with a recalled Takata airbag inflator, it is imperative that you take your vehicle to a dealer for a free repair. If you or a loved one has been injured by a faulty Takata airbag inflator, you may be able to receive compensation for your injuries, damages and losses. If you have lost a loved one as a result of this auto defect, you may also be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the automaker. An experienced auto defect lawyer who has handled Takata airbag lawsuits will be able to help you determine your legal rights and options.