A lot has happened in the Takata Airbag Recall since our last update. In early February, lawsuits from around the country were consolidated and brought before a federal judge in Miami.
Thus far, 1 in 4 airbag-related injuries and deaths have occurred in Florida, making our state the most affected in the Takata case. The disproportionate number of incidents are due to the state’s high level of humidity, which can cause the propellants inside the airbag to degrade, resulting in explosive combustion when the airbags deploy in a crash. In some cases, the internal pressure of the airbag has caused the inflator housing to explode, sending shards of plastic and metal flying through the air.
While most of the Miami lawsuits center on economic damages, a number of personal injuries and wrongful death suits have also been brought against the manufacturer. Included are two high-profile litigants from the Sunshine State, both of whom suffered catastrophic injuries that might have been avoided had Takata made the issue public earlier.
Patricia Mincey of Jacksonville became a quadriplegic after her Takata airbag deployed with such force that it left her permanently disabled in June 2014. This January, she filed a joint lawsuit against Honda and Takata, alleging that both companies knew about the recalls, settling warranty claims quickly and quietly to conceal the dangers of their airbags from consumers for more than a decade. Her accident occurred just four days prior to Honda’s recall in Florida and California. Around the same time that Mincey was filing her lawsuit, Sara Baker of South Florida almost lost her ear as the result of inflator housing shrapnel. The 34-year old was driving a 2002 Honda Accord and is one of the latest litigants against Takata. New lawsuits are being added by the day.
As of February 20th, 2015, the NHTSA penalized Takata with a $14,000 per day fine for its incomplete cooperation with the agency’s investigation. One month earlier, the NHTSA hit Honda with a $70 million fine for failure to report warranty claims, injuries and death to the federal government.
To check whether or not your vehicle has been affected by Takata’s defective airbags, go to www.safercar.gov. The only information you’ll need is your Vehicle Identification Number (VIN), which is normally printed on your vehicle registration and stamped on the dashboard You can also call your dealer. If your car has been affected, know that it may take weeks, even months, for your airbag replacement kit to arrive. In early March, Takata announced that it was ramping up production from 350,000 kits per month to 900,000 per month by September 2015 to address the delay. The recall affects nearly 17 million vehicles from 10 different car manufacturers between model years 2002-2008.