The eleventh death in the United States attributed to defective Takata airbags was recently reported. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration confirmed that a 50-year old woman died in a west coast state following a car accident. The death was blamed on the defective airbags which are the subject of the largest ever auto recall. The defective airbags have been responsible for 16 deaths worldwide and 70 million have been recalled in the U.S., while 100 million have been recalled worldwide.
The 50-year old victim was driving a 2001 Honda. The last reported death in the U.S. resulting from the defective airbags was the death of a 17-year old girl in a southwest state following a low-speed crash. Approximately 11.4 million defective inflators have been repaired in the U.S., leaving greater than 20 million unrepaired. The airbag inflators contain a chemical compounds that can deteriorate if exposed to moisture and high temperatures. The defective airbags do not contain a chemical drying agent to prevent the damage. An excess of internal pressure can cause the inflators inside the airbags to burst which causes metal pieces from inside the airbags to spray out which can injure or kill victims.
The manufacturer of the car involved in the latest incident noted it had sent numerous recall notices to registered owners of its vehicles over 8 years, however, did not note any record of the vehicle involved in the latest death being repaired. The NHTSA has urged owners of 313,000 older Hondas and Acuras to have their airbags repaired but approximately 300,000 remain unrepaired and owners are difficult to reach according to a representative from the company. Because of the serious nature of defective auto parts, products liability law is available to step in and protect victims harmed by a defective product.
A variety of parties, including manufacturers, distributors and retailers, may all be liable when a victim has been harmed by a defective product. Because circumstances can vary, and may be tragic, in cases of an auto defect, it is important for victims and their families to be familiar with the legal resources available to help them when harmed.
Source: International Business Times, "Takata Air Bag Recall: US Confirms 11th Death Over Defective Inflators," Suman Varandani, Oct. 21, 2016