Product Liability

Las Vegas Teen Sues Over Takata Airbag Injuries

Honda Takata airbags 375x210 Las Vegas Teen Sues Over Takata Airbag InjuriesA Las Vegas teen who nearly died when the Takata airbag installed in her refurbished 2002 Honda Accord exploded is suing the salvage yard that sold the recalled airbag and the auto dealers who bought it for re-use.

Eighteen-year-old Karina Dorado was driving home from work March 3 when her Honda Accord was rear-ended by another vehicle. What should have been a relatively minor rear-end collision, however, turned into a fight for life when the Takata airbag inside Ms. Dorado’s car exploded, puncturing her trachea with metal shrapnel.

Now 19, Ms. Dorado had to spend several days in a trauma center. The airbag injury scarred her neck and changed her voice, her lawsuit claims. She may also need to undergo additional surgeries in the future.

According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Ms. Dorado’s case underscores the special dangers posed by recalled auto parts and the companies that buy and sell the defective parts, putting them in vehicles purchased by unsuspecting customers.

One such customer was Ms. Dorado’s father, Jose Dorado-Carillo, who bought the 2002 Accord for his daughter.

The Accord had been deemed a total loss by Liberty Mutual Group in a previous crash in Arizona. The insurer sold the crashed vehicle to Havanna Corp. and D&A Bodyworks LLC, two related Las Vegas companies that specialize in repairing damaged vehicles, in a Phoenix auction.

Meanwhile, sometime in the summer of 2015, Nevada Pic-a-Part of Henderson, Nevada, bought a junked 2001 Accord to sell off the parts, including the recalled Takata airbag. Havanna Corp. and D&A bought the airbag from Pic-A-Part and installed it in the 2002 Accord that Mr. Dorado-Carillo would buy for his daughter.

The Takata airbag was among those that Honda and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) classified as among the most dangerous, with nearly a 50-percent chance of exploding with deadly force in a crash.

The lawsuit, which names Havanna Corp., D&A Bodyworks, and Pic-a-Part as defendants, claims the companies had a legal duty to make sure the salvaged Takata airbag was not subject to any safety recalls. Once a part is removed from its original vehicle, it becomes nearly impossible for the original manufacturer and dealer to locate it and warn the owner of any safety issues.

It is against federal law for a recalled auto part to be sold, but the law is seldom enforced, the Las Vegas Review-Journal notes. Meanwhile, Honda has bought about 75,000 of the recalled Takata airbags from salvage yards over the last couple of years to keep them from being installed in refurbished vehicles.