As automotive recalls mount, a class-action lawsuit has been brought against Takata Corp. and Honda in connection to the defective Takata airbag, which has injured motorists when they improperly exploded, sending metal shards throughout the passenger compartment.
The class-action case alleges that the manufacturer, Takata, attempted to build cheaper airbags using less expensive parts. These parts, are defective, and are “killing and maiming” people involved in what are otherwise survivable car accidents.
One such accident led to the death of a woman when her Honda Accord’s airbag exploded after a crash. The explosion sent shrapnel that cut her trachea and left stab-type wounds that had police believing she had been stabbed with a knife.
A tragic twist in her case occurred when she received a letter from Honda urging her to have her vehicle checked for the airbag issue a week after her death.
The issues with the Takata airbag first developed in 2004, when shrapnel from the airbag injured, but did not kill, the driver. Honda treated the incident as and “anomaly” and was very tentative in instituting any recalls for vehicles containing the airbag.
The performance of federal safety regulators and the car companies involved with this airbag have raised many concerns. In a stance very similar to the problems with the defective General Motors ignition switch, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) only issued “alerts” in October of this year, 10 years after the first incident.
NHTSA has been slow and seemingly uninterested in investigating these types of product defect cases. The GM case only received publicity due to private attorneys suing for clients killed or injured in accidents involving their defective vehicles.
Latimes.com, “Takata, Honda face class-action lawsuit over faulty air bags,” Jerry Hirsch, October 31, 2014