Auto company Stellantis and U.S. safety regulators have confirmed that an exploding Takata airbag inflator has killed yet another driver.
According to an Associated Press news report, the company and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reiterated warnings to owners of 274,000 older Dodge and Chrysler vehicles to stop driving them until the faulty airbag inflators are replaced.
In November, Stellantis announced two deaths caused by airbags and said it suspected that faulty inflators had caused a third fatality. The company, which was formerly known as Fiat Chrysler, confirmed the third death early this week. The automaker is now urging people to stop driving Dodge Magnum wagons, Dodge Challenger and Charger muscle cars, and Chrysler 300 sedans from the 2005 through 2010 model years.
Fatalities and Injuries Caused by Takata Airbags
Since 2009, exploding airbags have fatally injured at least 33 people around the world, including 24 in the United States. The company also stated that all three U.S. deaths occurred in warm-weather states, and have taken place since April. The Takata airbags linked to the deaths used ammonium nitrate to create a small explosion that is meant to inflate the airbags in the event of a crash.
However, the chemical could deteriorate over time and become volatile when exposed to high heat and humidity. The explosion could cause a metal canister to rupture and hurl shrapnel into the passenger compartment. Most of the deaths and about 400 injuries have happened in the United States, but injuries were also reported in Australia and Malaysia.
The Newport Beach personal injury law firm of Bisnar Chase has handled several of these Takata airbag cases where clients have been blinded or even killed by this deadly defect. When the metal canister in the airbag inflators blows apart, the shards of metal are expelled into the vehicle compartment, severely injuring occupants. Some of the injuries seen have been gruesome and consistent with stab wounds. They are life-changing injuries that leave victims with lifelong and debilitating disabilities.
Largest Recall in U.S. History
The Stellantis vehicles under the “Do Not Drive” warning were all recalled in 2015, and free repairs have been available since then. The company has said dealers have the replacement parts, service will be done for free, and they will also provide transportation to get the vehicles to and from the dealership. According to NHTSA, the person who was most recently killed was driving a 2010 Chrysler 300.
NHTSA is urging all owners to check if their vehicles have an unrepaired Takata airbag recall. Drivers can go to nhtsa.gov/recalls and enter their 17-digit vehicle identification number to check if they have any open recalls. Earlier this month, NHTSA said the driver of a 2002 Honda Accord was killed when the inflator blew apart and sent shrapnel flying into the vehicle compartment. That crash occurred in Bowling Green, Kentucky.
This auto defect led to one of the largest vehicle recalls in U.S. history, with at least 67 million airbag inflators recalled. The government says there are still millions that have not been repaired. About 100 million Takata airbag inflators have been recalled worldwide.
What You Need to Know About Defective Takata Airbags
Here are some of the key facts you need to know about the Takata airbag recall:
- In order to protect the public, all recalled airbags will be replaced for FREE, at no cost to consumers.
- The recalls involve several airbag types, not just one single type – all made by Takata.
- A nationwide repair schedule has been developed to get the most dangerous airbags replaced first because a large number of cars and trucks need to be fixed.
- Exposure to high heat and humidity over time can cause metal parts inside the airbag to explode and shoot out of the airbag at the driver or passengers.
- Testing shows that older airbags in locations with hot and humid weather are more likely to have airbags that could explode.
Seeking Compensation for Your Losses
Those who have been injured by these defective Takata airbags can seek compensation for damages, including but not limited to medical expenses, lost income, hospitalization, rehabilitation, permanent injuries, pain and suffering, and emotional distress. Families that have lost a loved one as a result of these defects can file a wrongful death lawsuit claiming compensation for medical and funeral costs, lost future income, pain and suffering, and loss of love and companionship.
The personal injury law firm Bisnar and Chase has represented severely injured victims of Takata airbag defects. We are passionate about the pursuit of justice for victims and their families who have paid the ultimate price for the negligence of automakers and manufacturers of these defective products who have hurt consumers by putting profits before public safety.
If you or a loved one has been injured as a result of a defective Takata airbag, it is important that you first get prompt medical attention and care. Be sure to preserve the vehicle in its current condition so an expert can examine it for all evidence, including vehicle defects. Contact an experienced auto defect lawyer who has handled similar cases and who can help you secure maximum compensation for your losses while holding all the negligent parties accountable.