Earlier this month, the producer of airbags which have been linked to at
least five deaths was back on
Capitol Hill to explain why it continues to resist recalling its defective products
nationwide. Japanese auto supplier Takata explained that rather than comply
with U.S. government demands that it expand its national recall of vehicles
equipped with potentially explosive airbags, it would instead take actions
of its own to use replacements from other suppliers only if necessary.
This stance contrasts with that of the U.S. government and several auto
manufacturers as national recalls of vehicles equipped with airbags made
by Takata continues to expand. Specifically, after the National Highway
Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) discovered several cases of exploding
airbags last fall, it urged owners of Toyota, Honda, Nissan and several
other vehicle brands to react quickly to recall notices. Currently,
7.8 million cars are included as part of the recall, though there is uncertainty regarding
how the airbag defect will be resolved for those who turn in their vehicles,
as Takata has indicated that it
doesn't have sufficient quantities of replacement airbags to fix the nearly eight million recalled vehicles.
Flawed Airbags Cost Lives
Installed in cars from model year 2002 through 2008, defective Takata airbags
can quickly transform from life-saving devices to a lethal danger. In
particular, the airbags are susceptible to malfunctions in states with
high humidity such as Florida, Puerto Rico, Alabama, Mississippi, and
Georgia as well as U.S. territories such as Guam and the Virgin Islands.
Accordingly to Takata, high humidity and moisture levels causes the affected
airbags to overinflate and explode upon deployment, sending metal fragments
into the car.
In the case of an
Orlando, Florida woman who was killed by a malfunctioning airbag, the injuries initially led
investigators to believe that she was the victim of a homicide. When the
airbag in her Honda Accord deployed and exploded, the flying shrapnel
pierced her neck akin to stab wounds. Only after the discovery of a letter
from Honda alerting customers to the potential for faulty airbags in her
vehicle model was the actual culprit of her death discovered.
Is My Car Affected By the Recall?
Understandably, consumers who own vehicles that were manufactured between
2002 to 2008 by the companies affected by the national recall will be
concerned regarding whether their car contains dangerous airbags. First,
it is important to locate the vehicle identification number (VIN) which
is often located in the driver-side corner of the windshield as well as
on registration and insurance documents. That number can be placed into
online VIN look-up page to determine whether your vehicle is covered.
However, even diligent consumers may wait weeks or months for their vehicle
to be repaired due to the shortage of replacement airbags. Further, compounding
the difficulty of the recall is the fact that because the airbags were
used in older vehicles that have since been sold by their original owners,
many current owners will not have received recall notices sent by manufacturers.
Even if the vehicle's original owner knew of the defect, there is
no legal obligation for a used car to have recall repairs made prior to resell.
At The Pittman Firm, we believe that consumer safety should be the number
one concern of auto manufacturers. Call us today to learn more about the
Takata recall and how we can help if you are affected.