"We've seen a lot of cases where the person has a fender bender, the airbag goes off and hits them in the face, and they've lost an eye," Bodiford says. "We've seen all kinds of injuries to the chest and torso. Or, they'll have a huge collision and the airbags don't go off when they should."
Among the problems with defective airbags, according to Bodiford, are failure to deploy, late deployment or accidental deployment. Each of these situations can cause serious injury to the people in the vehicle.
"We have seen many people seriously injured because their airbags either did not deploy or deployed when they should not have," Bodiford says. "Serious injuries to the neck, face, head, shoulders and torso can be caused by airbag defects and airbag failures."
Although many people are familiar with the risks associated with an airbag's failure to deploy or accidental deployment (deploying when there is no accident), there are also serious risks associated with late deployment. Late deployment occurs when the vehicle is in an accident but there is a delay between the time of the accident and the time that the airbag deploys.
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One example of air bag problems involves Honda 2001–2003 vehicles, involving various models. The Honda vehicles were recalled starting in 2008 because of a defective driver's airbag inflator, a problem that is linked to 12 injuries and at least one death.
The recall was expanded numerous times because Honda was not able to find all the defective inflators. Some inflators were reportedly used as service parts and are not as easily traced. The most recall expansion was announced on December 2, 2011, and included various Accord, Civic, Odyssey, CR-V, Pilot and Acura models.