At least 13 people worldwide have died after suffering severe injuries linked to recalled Takata airbags. The airbags are reportedly prone to malfunction, sending shrapnel into a vehicle’s cabin. In some cases, victims have died as a result of the defective airbags after being involved in what were reportedly minor car accidents. In one case, Huma Hanif reportedly died after debris from an airbag was sent flying into her car, cutting her arteries.
Those who survive their ordeal may live with permanent injuries. Fox 13 (6/1/16) reports on Randi Johnston, now 25, who permanently lost her voice in a car accident in 2015, after her airbag exploded and debris cut her trachea. As a result, 45 percent of Johnston’s trachea is missing.
Issues with the airbags have led to recalls of millions of vehicles. Those recalls, which were first announced in November 2008 and expanded repeatedly, will continue into December 2019. Given the magnitude of the recall and the risk of serious injuries to vehicle occupants, it would make sense that no more vehicles would be sold with the airbags linked to the recall.
However, a new report by the US Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, & Transportation indicates that not only are new vehicles being sold with defective airbags, some recalled airbags have been replaced with defective inflators. Vehicles sold with the defective airbags must be recalled by the end of December 2018.
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While Volkswagen and Mitsubishi have reportedly told regulators which vehicles have the airbags, Fiat Chrysler and Toyota have declined to do so, according to reports.
Lawsuits have been filed against some automakers, alleging people were put at risk of serious harm due to defective airbags.