Honda, and the airbag manufacturer Takata, investigated. They decided that the explosion that occurred as the airbag deployed was an anomaly. No general investigation was undertaken, no recall took place and only basic information was relayed to federal safety regulators.
Over the next 10 years, at least two deaths and 30 serious injuries have been directly linked to airbag ruptures in Honda vehicles alone.
How Widespread Is The Takata Airbag Explosion Problem?
Complaints received by US regulators have now established that vehicles from 11 automobile manufacturers are affected. At least 140 people have been injured as a direct result of airbag deployment shooting shrapnel into the driving compartment.
In the worst incident documented, in 2009 a mother bled to death in front of her three young children after a minor accident in Richmond, Virginia. A lawsuit was filed by her family, but even then the problem was not properly investigated and acknowledged.
Honda’s initial recall to fix the airbag explosion problem covered around 4,000 vehicles. By mid-2014, the recall has expanded to involve at least 14 million cars from those 11 manufacturers whose airbags were supplied by Takata.
The automakers involved are:
This is a question that the authorities are still trying to get to the bottom of. It appears that Honda and Takata simply did not realize, or wish to realize, that the problem was so widespread.
Initially, Takata reported to Honda after the 2004 airbag explosion accident. Honda then reported on its findings to federal regulators. However, the report that was filed did not elaborate on the exact circumstances, namely that the airbag exploded, or that more airbags could pose an explosion risk.
Honda then settled a claim with the driver out of court, ending the matter.
Over the next few years, Takata undertook several investigations as more and more instances of airbag explosions began to occur. Although the explosive problem seems to be linked to a single factory in Mexico, poor record-keeping was making it very difficult to pin down both the exact cause and the timeframe over which the defective elements had been manufactured.
However, there clearly was a problem in the way the explosive that deployed the airbag on impact exploded in some instances.
As the problem began to escalate, Honda initiated more and more recalls, including two in 2011, one in 2013, and one in August 2014. So far, more than 6 million Honda models have been subject to recall.
There is another reason that the problem has not come to light as quickly as it should. Takata informed other car manufacturers that it supplied with airbags that it did not believe those manufacturers were affected. How Takata came to that conclusion has yet to be fully explained.
BMW became concerned and pressed Takata to get to the bottom of whether or not any of their vehicles contained the defective airbags. In 2013, Takata finally acknowledged that BMW owners could also be at risk, which led to more than 1.8 million BMW’s being recalled.
The acknowledgment was then extended to other car manufacturers. Toyota, Nissan, Ford, Chrysler, General Motors, Mazda, Subaru, Mitsubishi and Isuzu have all now issued one or more model recalls.
Takata pioneered the development of a new type of airbag as the technology evolved. The system called for a small explosive charge to be used to deploy the airbag rapidly.
The charge within the airbag inflater is designed to explode at a certain rate, deploying the airbag safely. However, due to a manufacturing defect, some of those airbags are not inflating safely. On activation, the inflator burns more aggressively than desired, causing it to explode more rapidly than it should and sending hot shrapnel straight through the airbag fabric towards the person sitting in front of it.
How Do I Know If My Car Is Affected By The Takata Airbag Problem?
The best way to check if your car has been recalled for the the Takata airbag issue – or is affected by any recall at all – is to visit the following website:http://www.safercar.gov/Vehicle+Owners/vin-lookup-sites
Simply enter your vehicle identification number (VIN) and all recalls that your car is subject to will be listed.
If your vehicle has been the subject of an official recall, then you should take your car to a local dealership to be fixed.
Even if you own a car manufactured in the early 2000’s, you should be aware of the problem. In April 2010, a Honda Civic built in 2001 also demonstrated the same issue on deployment of the airbag. The woman driving the car received punctures to her neck, causing dangerous bleeding. The law firm that represented her ensured she received a settlement for that unnecessary injury.
If you believe that a defective airbag has caused an injury to you or someone else in your vehicle, you should contact Donaghue & Labrum immediately. We can provide a free consultation, look into the facts surrounding the accident, then advise you on the best course of action.
It is important you do this at the same time, or better yet before you contact the vehicle manufacturer or any other third party. This will better protect your rights and help ensure you are not pushed into a course of action that is not in your best interest, or that minimizes potential compensation.