Several years after exploding Takata airbags sparked safety concerns, federal investigations and massive recalls, the malfunctioning safety devices have been linked to yet another death.
A driver was killed in Mesa, Ariz. in August when the airbag inflator in his 2002 Honda Civic ruptured, according to investigators for the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That marks the 17th death linked to malfunctioning in Takata airbags in the U.S. and 26th fatality total, USA Today reports.
Carmakers began recalling vehicles with defective Takata airbags in 2013, citing defects that could cause the airbags to unexpectedly deploy and burst, sending shards of metal, glass, and other material into the car without warning. More than 37 million vehicles with Takata airbags have since been recalled.
“Takata used volatile ammonium nitrate to create a small explosion to inflate airbags in a crash,” USA Today explains. “But the chemical can deteriorate over time when exposed to moisture in the air. The explosion can blow apart a metal canister and hurl shrapnel into the passenger compartment.”
These malfunctions were blamed for a number of fatalities in the United States. That includes a driver in Georgia who was killed when the airbag in his Ford Ranger deployed and exploded as he was driving the car on a South Carolina highway.
Takata paid $1 billion to settle a Justice Department probe into claims that it failed to warn consumers of the problem. The company later filed for bankruptcy and was sold.
Sadly, the latest death may not be the last attributed to the faulty airbags. Takata airbags have been “recycled” into cars that were not included in the recalls, according to news reports. In many cases, drivers may not even know that their cars have Takata airbags.
Legal Rights and Options for Car Owners in California
California’s lemon law offers vehicle owners in the Golden State some important rights and protections when it comes to defective vehicles.
The law requires carmakers to perform various repairs on vehicles while they are under warranty. It also forces the company to buy back or replace cars it is unable or unwilling to fix.
The law additionally puts car manufacturers on the hook for any legal fees that an owner or lessor incurs while enforcing his or her lemon law rights.
Contact a California Lemon Law Attorney
If you are a California car owner driving a lemon, it is vital that you consult an experienced lawyer to consider your rights and options.
California lemon law attorney Brian Bickel and his team at the Bickel Law Firm have represented hundreds of clients in defective vehicle cases across the state. We understand the stress that can come with haggling with car dealers and manufacturers. That is why we work aggressively to resolve these cases and ensure that manufacturers are made accountable.