Whitney Butcher is a personal injury attorney in Raleigh who focuses on litigation regarding defective products and dangerous drugs. Ms. Butcher is an associate with Whitley Law Firm, a firm with offices in Winston-Salem, Raleigh, and across North Carolina.
It is being called “the largest and most complex safety recall in U.S. history” according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). 28.8 million airbags have already been recalled and NHTSA has recently announced that through 2019, it plans on recalling an additional 35-40 million more.
Fourteen separate automakers are being advised to recall vehicles with airbags made by a major supplier, Takata. After 10 deaths and over 100 injuries, NHTSA has discovered a defect in some of these airbags. The airbag inflators can rupture, spraying sharp metal shards with tremendous amounts of force throughout the vehicles.
Among the 10 reported dead as a result of the faulty airbag was a 17 year old girl from Texas. She was driving a 2002 Honda Civic. The airbag exploded and the shrapnel from the airbag struck her neck. Many more have been horrifically injured with reports of metal shards slicing the occupants’ upper bodies.
NHTSA has not yet released a list of the specific vehicles that could be affected with this latest recall but it plans on consulting with the automakers in question to establish a roll-out schedule with the highest risk vehicles being called first.
Vehicles being operated in areas with high humidity as well as older model vehicles have been identified as higher risks for rupturing airbag inflators. NHTSA imposed a civil penalty of up to $200 million against Takata. It has been documented that Takata was aware of the faulty airbags possibly years before filing notification with federal regulators.
If you are notified that your vehicle is part of the recall, the first thing you should do is remain calm. Out of the 30 million cars that have already been impacted with the potentially faulty airbags, only a very small number have actually been affected.
It is important, however, that you take the recall seriously and make it a priority to have the work completed as soon as the new parts become available and the work can be scheduled. The work must be done at a franchised dealership. Independent mechanics are not permitted to do the work on recalls.
Borderstan contributor and law firm sponsor Price Benowitz LLP. The views and opinions expressed in the column are those of the author — our contributor and law firm sponsor Price Benowitz LLP — and do not necessarily reflect the views of Borderstan.