Can You Get Hit with Metal Shrapnel from Your Airbag in an Accident?

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If you drive, you are by now likely familiar with the ongoing Takata airbag recall, the largest of its kind in the history of the automotive industry. The recall now includes an unprecedented 41.6 million vehicles, up dramatically from Honda’s initial recall of just 4,000 vehicles in 2008 – and the list of affected vehicles is only expected to continue growing. With so many vehicles that feature Takata airbags, it’s important for drivers to be aware of the risks, like serious injuries from plastic or metal shrapnel. The Takata airbag injury lawyers of The Reiff Law Firm examine these risks in closer detail – and provide updates on the recall’s current status.

Exploding Airbags Can Injure Drivers with Shrapnel

Sadly, as our personal injury lawyers have frequently written about, there is already a lengthy history of drivers being injured or even killed by high-velocity shrapnel propelled by exploding airbags. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a federal agency tasked with studying and reducing automotive accidents, “NHTSA has confirmed that 15 people in the United States have been killed when their defective Takata PSAN air bag inflators exploded. In addition,” the agency adds, more than 250 people have reported suffering Takata airbag injuries. These figures, already alarming, do not account for additional deaths or injuries that may have occurred in other countries.

The question is, how do exploding airbags cause injury? There are two major hazards to be concerned about. First, the sheer surprise of the explosion can cause the driver to veer off the road or into oncoming traffic. Second, the force of the explosion may be powerful enough to drive sharp shards of shrapnel into vehicle occupants’ faces, necks, arms, or other areas of the body, causing dangerous, potentially fatal blood loss.

The first known death, that of recent high school graduate Ashley Parham, 18, occurred in Oklahoma in May 2009, followed closely by the death of Virginia resident Gurjit Rathore, 33, in December. In both of these tragic cases, the underlying cause of death was the same: an exploding Takata airbag propelled metal shards into each victim’s neck, causing fatal injuries by puncturing carotid arteries, which run upward through each side of the neck. In Parham’s case, the injuries were so extensive that the doctors who treated her initially “thought she might have been shot.” Both women were driving a 2001 Honda Accord – one of the models included in the initial 4,000-vehicle recall in 2008 – when the accidents occurred. 

Takata Airbag Recall List 2019

Initially confined to just two Honda models, the 2001 Accord and Civic, the continuously evolving Takata recall has grown to include nearly 42 million vehicles, which, collectively, contain “56 million defective Takata airbags,” according to NHTSA statistics. These airbags, NHTSA warns, “are under recall because… [they] can explode when deployed, causing serious injury or even death.”

Parham and Rathore were the first of many tragic examples, followed, among other victims, by Devin Xu, who drove a 2002 Acura TL sedan; Hien Thi Tran, who drove a 2001 Honda Accord; Carlos Solis, who drove a 2002 Honda Accord; and Kylan Langlinais, who drove a 2005 Honda Civic. A detailed list of vehicles impacted by the recall is available on the NHTSA website. To view the list, scroll down to the section titled “Amended Annex A” (see page 22) of this government report.

Keep in mind that more vehicles may be added to the recall in the future, which makes it a good idea to periodically check whether your vehicle is part of the recall. To find out if your car, truck, or SUV is part of the Takata recall, use this NHTSA recall search tool by entering your 17-character Vehicle Identification Number (VIN). You can find your VIN by checking the corner of your windshield, where it should be displayed, or by looking inside the door on the driver’s side.

Takata Airbag Lawyers Handling Car Accident Injury Claims

At The Reiff Law Firm, our auto defect attorneys have been closely tracking developments in the Takata airbag story since 2013, when we first wrote about the recalls. Our car accident lawyers are dedicated to providing aggressive legal representation to drivers and passengers who have been injured by these dangerous, defective products.

If you or one of your family members was hurt by shrapnel from an exploding airbag, or suffered other types of injuries in a car crash, the award-winning team at The Reiff Law Firm is here to help. To talk about your legal options after an airbag injury, contact The Reiff Law Firm online for a free legal consultation, or call our law offices at (215) 246-9000 today.

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