The Takata recall list has expanded to include almost eight million vehicles after reports that the airbags could inflate with too much force, rupturing the mechanism that causes it to inflate. Should that happen, metal and plastic fragments can fly into the vehicle compartment at high rates of speed. At least four people have reportedly died and hundreds have been injured from the debris, which some have compared to shrapnel. Only six types were included in the initial Takata recall list, but models from the following have now been included:
- General Motors
Model years span from 2000 through 2011.
Humidity’s Impact on Takata Recall List
The manufacturer of the airbags, Takata, says that the problem only occurs in hot, humid weather, which has led automakers to only recall vehicles registered in states that have extended periods of high humidity, including Louisiana. A concern is that retirees may spend winters in warmer states, such as Florida, Louisiana and Texas, but have vehicles registered in cooler states. This could expose their vehicle to heat and humidity, but they would not receive notice that their vehicle was placed on the Takata recall list.
Recall Poses Problems for Vehicle Owners, Manufacturers
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) has provided a database on their website so that vehicle owners can check to see if their vehicle identification number matches one that has been included in the recall. However, because of the number of models included on the Takata recall list, it has been difficult for dealers to obtain the parts necessary to make the repairs. Toyota has advised dealers without repair parts to disable the passenger side airbag and affix a “do not sit here” label to the dash as a temporary solution.
Takata is reportedly trying to determine the problem that led to the airbags having to be recalled, and some say that the investigation is pointing to the use of ammonium nitrate as the chemical that ignites the canister that deploys the airbag. Honda discovered the problem in 2004 and again in 2007. Although the car manufacturer notified the NHTSA, they reportedly did not follow through on forms filed with the agency and failed to notify safety regulators about the serious risk to drivers and passengers.
In 2009, Honda settled a lawsuit with a woman who was allegedly severely injured when debris from an exploding airbag caused damage to her neck. In 2013, Honda and Takada settled a lawsuit with the family of a woman who reportedly bled to death in a Christmas Eve accident with her children watching after the airbag debris allegedly cut the arteries in her neck. At that time, neither company asked for a Takata airbag recall in Louisiana or other states as they thought the incidents were isolated, according to company spokespeople. However, the death of a California man in a parking garage after an accident as well as the death of a Florida woman, both of whom suffered severe injuries to their face and neck, have reportedly led to Congress pushing to expand the Takata recall list.
In the case of the Florida woman, the injuries were so severe investigators reportedly thought she was the victim of a stabbing. It was not until they discovered that her vehicle was part of the Takata recall list that they suspected the airbag.
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If you or a loved one has been injured by an airbag, call Attorney Group for Louisiana for a free consultation regarding a possible product liability claim.