When purchasing a car, most consumers consider safety features among the vehicle’s most important qualities to take into account. Antilock brake systems, seatbelts, and airbags are such basic safety controls that they are almost taken for granted in today’s automobile market. But recently, 11 people were killed and hundreds more injured from the airbags in their cars that they assumed were there to save their lives. Huma Hanif, a 17-year-old girl from Texas, died in a minor car accident because her Honda Civic’s airbag inflator exploded, sending debris and shrapnel into her neck at close range. The faulty airbags, manufactured by Takata Corporation, have been found in millions of other cars.
Reports of deaths and injuries from the airbags date back over a decade, but Takata denied any defects until May 2015. The list of cars on the recall list began rolling out in May 2015, and more cars continue to be added. By May 2016, federal regulators expanded the recall, announcing that 35-40 million more airbags were being added to the already 28 million recalled airbag inflators. The U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) also accelerated the recall, ordering the company to recall and repair millions of airbags between May 2016 and December 2019 in a phased approach based on the relative risk of explosion and injury. Millions of airbags have already been recalled worldwide, and according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), nearly 70 million have been or will be under recall by 2019, while other estimates put the number closer to 85 million, making this the largest and most complicated automobile safety recall in United States history.
Recently, the NHTSA conducted a new test on a specific subset of the airbag inflators between model years 2001 and 2003 for Honda and Acura vehicles that showed a far higher risk of rupture during airbag deployment. These airbag inflators have shown a 50 percent chance of explosion in the event of an accident, and consequently the NHTSA advises owners of these vehicles to avoid driving them altogether until replacement airbag inflators can be installed.
How Do You Know if Your Car is Affected?
Check the NHTSA list of affected vehicles to determine whether your car may have a faulty airbag inflator. The list does not yet include vehicles from the May 4, 2016 announced expansion to the recall, so continue checking the list or sign up for recall alerts to be notified when the list is complete.
If your car is one of the impacted vehicles, immediately stop driving the vehicle. Next, call a local car dealer to determine how and when you can receive a free replacement airbag inflator. The recall replacement program will occur in stages based on the risk of airbag inflator rupture, which is higher for older inflators and those that have been exposed to moisture or high humidity. As a result, Gulf Coast states and areas with higher humidity may receive replacement parts earlier than others.
Have You or a Loved One Been Injured by a Defective Airbag?
If you or a loved one has sustained injuries from a faulty airbag, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. The experienced personal injury attorneys at the office of Alpert Schreyer, LLC will investigate your case to determine who is at fault, and fight to get you the compensation you deserve. Call us at 301-932-9997 or contact us online for a free, confidential consultation today.