Product Liability

Honda stripping customers of legal recourse in event of ‘exploding airbag’ injury

Takata airbag image source alexauto321 wikicommons Honda stripping customers of legal recourse in event of exploding airbag injuryAnyone who wants to buy certain used 2001-2011 Honda and Acura vehicles at a Honda dealership will now be required to sign a document agreeing to let Honda off the hook in the event the vehicle’s airbag explodes, maiming or killing the vehicle’s occupants.

Honda is one of several carmakers recalling vehicles over faulty airbags made by Japanese supplier Takata. These airbags have the potential to explode even in very low-impact bumps, such as a fender bender, due to a faulty moisture-sensitive inflator that can cause the airbag to burst into the vehicle cabin with excessive force.

And the word “explode” is not an exaggeration in these incidents. Rather than properly deploying as a cushion barrier between the front seat occupants and the dash, these defective airbags literally explode, potentially shooting metal fragments into drivers and passengers with the force of a bomb.

Honda, which attributes two deaths to the airbags in its vehicles, recalled some 3 million sold or later registered in the high-humidity states of Alabama, California, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Now it wants its dealerships to require their customers to sign an Airbag Inflator Recall Disclosure and Acknowledgement document before they buy certain 2001-2011 Honda and Acura vehicles. This effectively means that customers must surrender their right to hold Honda liable in the event they are injured by a defective airbag. If they refuse, Honda may try to force a stop-sale on the transaction, which is only legally enforceable in new cars.

According to Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety, “Honda is now specifically allowing its dealers to sell unsafe, recalled used cars with faulty air bags that are prone to spewing metal fragments that become sometimes-lethal projectiles — as long as they get the used car buyer’s signature on a written ‘disclosure’ — which the dealer can hide in a stack of documents and slip in AFTER you have already agreed to buy the car, settled on a price, and spent 4 hours at the dealership.”

If the prospect of an exploding airbag seems too unlikely to care about, the examples cited by Safety Research & Strategies of exploding airbag incidents may change your mind:

In May 2009, 18-year-old Ashley Nicole Parham of Oklahoma died in a 2001 Honda Accord, after her vehicle (collided with) another car in the school parking lot, tripping an explosion that sent a piece of metal right into her carotid artery.

In 2010, Kristy Williams, a Georgia college student, was stopped at a light, when her airbags deployed, expelling metal shards, which severed her neck and carotid artery and required two weeks in intensive care.

On Christmas Eve, Guddi Rathore was at the wheel of her 2001 Honda Accord, when a U.S. postal service truck pulled out in front of her. The minor fender bender caused the airbag to explode. The metal shards severed the arteries in her neck, killing Rathore in front of her three young children, also occupants in the Accord.

Safety Research & Strategies
Automotive News
Consumers for Auto Reliability and Safety

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Honda customers asked to sign away automaker liability for airbag injuries, deaths