Law Offices of Paul K. Schrier, PLLC

Florida man, working on car, killed by Takata airbag inflator

An 81-year-old Hialeah man was working inside a 2001 Honda Accord in mid-June when the airbag inflator ruptured and exploded, causing him to suffer head trauma. His death has been ruled accidental.

His death is the twelfth in the U.S. caused by a faulty airbag inflator manufactured by Takata Corp, according to Claims Journal. More than 180 people have been injured in the U.S., and this is the 17th death worldwide. It is suspected that airborne moisture and hot/cold temperature cycling may cause the inflator part of the airbags to break down over time. When that happens, a metal canister component can explode, sending shrapnel through the cabin of the vehicle.

According to police reports, the man was not the owner of the car but was working on its interior with a hammer. He had dismantled part of the car's center console, although it is unclear what he intended to do. After hearing a loud bang, a neighbor reported finding the man unconscious with injuries to his face. He died at a trauma center the next day.

Honda had only recently found out about the death and has been unable to inspect the vehicle. It has been relying on police photos to make a determination about the airbag or airbags' contribution to the man's death. Both airbags had been deployed when the man was discovered.

The 2001 Accord is known to have one of the more dangerous types of Takata airbags on the driver's side. Claims Journal says that lab tests have shown the airbag inflator to rupture in fully half of test crashes.

How do you know if your car is affected by a recalled Takata Airbag?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently announced that new testing has revealed some 2.7 million new Takata airbag inflators that appear to be faulty. The newly discovered faulty airbags are found in Ford, Nissan and Mazda vehicles; about 2.2 million of them in Ford vehicles.

Before this newest recall, 46.2 million faulty airbag inflators had already been recalled in the U.S. However, over 65 percent of them remain unrepaired. Here is a list of the affected automakers:

  • Acura
  • Audi
  • BMW
  • Chrysler (including Dodge and Jeep)
  • Ferrari
  • Ford/Lincoln
  • General Motors (including Pontiac and Saab)
  • Honda
  • Infiniti
  • Jaguar/Land Rover
  • Lexus
  • Mazda
  • Mercedes-Benz
  • Mitsubishi
  • Nissan
  • Subaru
  • Tesla
  • Toyota / Scion
  • Volkswagen

If you are unsure if your vehicle has a recalled airbag inflator, you can find out by using NHTSA's online VIN lookup tool. You can also contact any franchised dealer for your car's manufacturer.

If you suspect someone you love has been injured due to one of these defective airbag inflators, we urge you to contact an experienced personal injury lawyer.

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