Honda Reports 20th Fatality Linked to Faulty Takata Airbags
A faulty Takata airbag inflator has been linked to one more death, this time in Baton Rouge, La. According to a report in the Detroit Free Press, the unidentified person is the 20th death worldwide attributed to the faulty inflators, which can explode with too much force and send shrapnel flying into the vehicle compartment. The person, who has not yet been identified, died in a July 10 crash while driving a 2004 Honda Civic.
What Makes These Inflators Dangerous?
Officials with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) inspected the car this week and confirmed that the driver’s airbag inflator exploded and caused the death. Honda officials said they learned about the death only recently and jointly inspected the vehicle with government officials.
Takata airbags use the chemical ammonium nitrate to create a small explosion that inflates the airbags in the event of a crash. However, when it is exposed to high heat and humidity, the chemical can deteriorate and burn too fast blowing apart a metal canister and propelling shards of metal into the passenger compartment. This problem has spurred the largest series of auto recalls in U.S. history involving 42 million vehicles and nearly 69 million inflators.
Slow to Fix Defective Vehicles
As far as the most recent death was concerned, Honda says the car’s airbag was salvaged from another vehicle, a 2002 Civic. Owners of this vehicle had been sent recall notices, but no repairs were made. And this is not uncommon. A report that came out a month ago showed automakers have only replaced 43 percent of the faulty parts involving this recall. Honda, which was Takata’s largest customer, has been going door-to-door trying to persuade owners to get their cars repaired. The company is also using Facebook in an effort to track down owners.
If you would like to find out if your car has been recalled, please visit nhtsa.gov and enter your 17-digit vehicle identification number or VIN to find out if your vehicle is part of the recall. If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of these defective airbag inflators, you may be eligible to file a product liability lawsuit seeking compensation for damages such as medical expenses, lost income, hospitalization, rehabilitation, pain and suffering and emotional distress.
An experienced auto liability attorney who has successfully handled Takata airbag cases will be able to help you better understand your legal rights and options.