Thursday, April 30, 2015

Automobiles: Keeping your Family Safe

1.    How can you keep your family safe?

Safety is obviously a top priority in choosing the right vehicle for you and your family.  Some important systems to look for in vehicles include: electronic stability control (ESC), advanced side airbags, rollover bags, laminated glass, pre-tensioners, and good tires.
With rollover crashes claiming about 10,000 lives every year and a multitude of catastrophic injuries, rollover prevention has become a priority in vehicle safety.  Choosing a vehicle equipped with an ESC system can help reduce rollovers.  These systems use microprocessors and sensors, “to determine when a vehicle is beginning to skid and to automatically engage the brakes or individual wheels, and often to also modulate acceleration, to help stabilize the vehicle and bring it back under the driver’s control.” Advocates are supportive of ESC since these systems are more effective than human corrections because ESC can interpret “the information, in most cases, before the average driver or even the above average driver can sense the problem.”  
Side Airbags
Though most vehicles are now equipped with side airbags, you’d be surprised to learn that some cars, family minivans and other SUVs still do not offer side airbags behind the first row. Unfortunately, this is a widely unrecognized safety issue, and, as a result, misled or uninformed owners and renters of cars alike are being affected. This is also an area of product liability litigation where claims are simply being missed. People are being catastrophically injured in side-impact car accidents where the rear-seated occupants sustain head or neck injuries because there was no side-impact airbags. Verify that your vehicle is equipped with side airbags. You will help to ensure the safety of everyone with you.
Laminated Glass
Even though windshields must be made out of laminated glass, there is no equivalent requirement for side and rear windows.  Side and rear windows are often made out of tempered glass, which is much easier to penetrate than laminated glass. The majority of cars only have laminated glass in the windshield; however, there has been an increase in the use of laminated glass in other windows.  Choose a vehicle that is equipped with laminated glass in all windows.
Understand the Importance of Pre-Tensioners
          Although pre-tensioning technology has existed for years, it has only recently been incorporated as a vehicle safety feature, making it a possible defect claim for non-inclusion of this technology.  These systems sense a possible collision “seconds in advance and activates pre-crash measures.” When these systems sense a possible collision, they activate the tension in the seat belt system to hold the occupant in place.   Some advanced systems, like the Pre-Safe system found in Mercedes Benz S-Class sedan since 2003, move a seat from a reclined position to an upright position just before the impact.  
Check Your Tires Before – And During - A Road Trip
Maintain proper tire inflation.  Tire failures can be caused by a variety of factors, including: under or over-inflation, poor maintenance, tire aging, or a design or manufacturing defect.  The key is to maintain proper tire pressure, which can be tricky in the summertime as heat causes the air inside the tire to expand and overinflate.  In an overinflated tire, the center section of the tread balloons outward, focusing weight on the center of the tire.  Conversely, driving on underinflated tires causes the sidewall to bulge and wear unevenly, reducing tire life and potentially leading to a sudden tire failure. 
Additionally, make sure you have good tread.  Tires with inadequate tread which have been driven past their useful life and that are overly worn can fail without notice and lead to a rollover or catastrophic accident.  Tread naturally wears down over time, and, tires with uneven tread wear or minimal remaining tread should be removed and replaced. Keeping a watchful eye can lower your risk of a tire failure and prevent needless tragedy. - Similar
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What should you do if you think a defective product caused an injury?

If you think that you may have a potential products liability claim, the first thing you should do is contact an attorney as soon as possible to evaluate your case.  The more time that passes the harder it will be to conduct a thorough investigation of what happened.  Important evidence may be lost or destroyed.  An experienced attorney will know what evidence is important to preserve in this type of case. 

GM recalling over 1.2 million vehicles due to fire risk.

The Edmunds (4/28, Lienert, 399K) reports that General Motors is “recalling 1,207 2004 Buick Regal, Chevrolet Impala and Chevrolet Monte Carlo sedans due to a fire risk,” according to the NHTSA. “The valve cover gasket may leak,” said NHTSA in its recall summary. “The leaking engine oil can drip onto the hot surface of the exhaust manifold, increasing the risk of a fire.” 

Ford issues four recalls.

The Detroit Free Press (4/29, Priddle, 957K) reports Ford issued four recalls of a total of almost 600,000 vehicles in North America for issues including steering gear bolts, parking lights, fuel pumps, and heat shields. So far just one accident and no injuries have been attributed to the issues. The move comes just before National Highway Traffic Safety Administration administrator Mark Rosekind travels to Detroit “to meet with General Motors, Ford and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles officials,” including Ford CEO Mark Fields, GM CEO Mary Barra, and FCA’s head of vehicle safety and regulatory compliance, Scott Kunselman.
        The New York Times (4/30, Jensen, Subscription Publication, 12.24M) reports that Ford said the steering system’s bolts could rust and break, making the power steering give out and steering more difficult. The recall only includes cars “in states that depend heavily on road salt in the winter,” which can speed corrosion. However, consumer groups say such limited recalls “save automakers money while running the risk that, in a mobile society, some dangerous vehicles will not be fixed.”
             NHTSA urges recalled Ford owners to get fixes quickly. CNBC (4/30, Pramuk, 2.01M) reports that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration called for owners of recalled Fords “to get them ‘fixed as soon as possible.’” 

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Takata confirms six deaths, 105 injuries due to defective airbags.

Bloomberg News (4/27, Plungis, 3.81M) reports that Federal highway safety regulators (NHTSA) are investigating defective Takata Corp. air-bag inflators that send shards of shrapnel into car occupants when triggered. The story adds that on Monday Sen Bill Nelson (D-FL) said Takata has “confirmed a sixth death as well as 105 injuries” in documents submitted to the Senate Commerce Committee. 

Monday, April 27, 2015

Atlee Hall, LLP

Where can I find a personal injury firm who is willing to peel back the layers of my case to see the individual nuances of my situation? A firm that is driven to do what is in my best interest all while being committed to strengthening the safety of the community by holding those who violate safety rules responsible? Atlee Hall in Lancaster, PA is exactly that firm. With deep local roots and a strong reputation, Atlee Hall is a complex catastrophic personal injury firm, strictly focused on what the definition of justice means to each client. Their goal is to help build a safer community for those in Lancaster County

NHTSA investigation prompts Ford recall of 389,585 cars for doors that fly open.

USA Today (4/25, Woodyard, 5.01M) reported, a NHTSA investigation opened last September has prompted Ford to recall “389,585 late-model Ford Fiesta, Fusions and Lincoln MKZ sedans because of faulty latches that can allow the doors to fly open while the car is being driven.” 

Friday, April 24, 2015

Trek Bicycle Recall

The Consumer Products Safety Commission has announced a recall of ONE MILLION bikes with front disc brakes. Trek acknowledged to the CPSC that there were three cases with injuries, one resulting in quadrapalegia, another a facial injury, and another a fractured wrist. 

Recall Summary
Name of product:
Trek bicycles equipped with front disc brakes

An open quick release lever on the bicycle’s front wheel hub can come into contact with the front disc brake assembly, causing the front wheel to come to a sudden stop or separate from the bicycle, posing a risk of injury to the rider.         

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Atlee Hall's Living Safer Magazine

Here is the link to the digital copy:

Atlee Hall's Living Safer - Vol. 7, Ed. 1
BMW recalls Mini Coopers over faulty sensors. The Milwaukee Business Journal (4/22, Held, Subscription Publication, 3K) reports in continuing coverage that “BMW of North America will recall about 91,800 Mini Coopers because of a faulty sensor in front seats.” The NHTSA warns that the sensors, “produced in part by a German unit of Johnson Controls Inc.,” might fail to detect passengers, which means “the air bag would not deploy in a crash.” 
        Nissan recalls 45,000 Sentras over Takata airbags. The Automotive Fleet (4/22, 62K) reports that Nissan has expanded its “Takata air bag inflator recall to include 45,000...Sentra sedans manufactured from Jan. 2, 2006, to Aug. 26, 2006.” According to the NHTSA, the recalled “vehicles were originally sold in, or are currently registered in, regions associated with high absolute humidity,” including some Gulf Coast states and Pacific territories. 

Suzuki recalls record 2 million cars for smoking ignition switch

TOKYO (Reuters) -- Japan's Suzuki Motor Corp. said it would recall 2 million cars, a record for the automaker, including Chevrolet Cruzes it builds for General Motors, to replace the ignition switch after reports of fumes being emitted from the faulty component.
The action expands a recall for 168,000 cars that was issued on March 31 for the same defect after reports of burning or smoking ignition switches on 30 vehicles in Japan, 18 of which were police cars.
Subject to the latest recall are 1,873,000 cars across nine models in Japan. These include the Cruze, the AZ-Wagon and Carol models sold under Mazda Motor Corp.'s brand, and Suzuki's Alto, WagonR and Swift models built between 1998 and 2009.
There were 67 reports of smoking ignition switches, Suzuki said in a filing with Japan's transport ministry.
The recall also covers 133,700 Swift, Alto, Chevy Cruze and other models in overseas markets such as Australia and Europe, a Suzuki spokesman said.

Trek recalling almost one million bikes.

TIME (4/23, Berenson, 19.57M) reports Trek is recalling 900,000 bicycles in the United States and 98,000 in Canada over “improperly adjusted release levers” that can become “caught in the front disc brake, resulting in a separation of the front wheel and loss of control for the rider.” The issue has caused “multiple accidents, including one that left the rider paralyzed.” 

NFL agrees to concussion settlement.

A settlement in the NFL’s concussion lawsuit received widespread coverage. The danger football athletes face was a major focus for the majority of sources. The NCAA was rarely mentioned.
        ABC World News (4/22, story 8, 1:40, Muir, 5.84M) reported that a “settlement that could cost the NFL one billion dollars” will pay “for testing, treatment and living expenses for any of the 20,000 retired players who suffer from Alzheimer’s or dementia now or in the future.” Former Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon said, “They knew about it and they didn’t tell us. That’s just like flat out lying to you.” The NFL is immune from disclosing “what it knew about concussion damage,” according to the settlement, ABC reported.
        NBC Nightly News (4/22, story 5, 0:25, Holt, 7.86M) reported that former NFL athletes who develop Alzheimer’s or some form of dementia will get an average of $190,000, while those “diagnosed with Parkinson’s or ALS in their 30s or 40s” could get a settlement of up to $5 million.
        The CBS Evening News (4/22, story 6, 1:25, Pelley, 5.08M) reported, “there is no cap on total compensation” for athletes, “but all sides agreed the costs would be about $765 million.” However, “if hundreds of thousands more” are needed to treat former players who are eligible, it “could cost the NFL upwards of one billion dollars.” Some athletes are not satisfied with the deal, as it could take months or years for them to receive payment due to expected appeals.
        The AP (4/23, Dale) reports that the NFL payouts will be made over 65 years. “Critics contend the NFL is getting off lightly given annual revenues of about $10 billion,” the article reports, adding that similar lawsuits have also been filed “against the NHL, the NCAA and others,” prompting “discussion and safety reforms about sports concussions.”
        The Wall Street Journal (4/23, Clark, Subscription Publication, 5.68M) also provides coverage, noting that US District Court Judge Anita Judge Brody rescinded arguments in favor of higher rewards due to the outcome of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). She said that the consequences of the brain trauma were not substantiated by science.
        USA Today (4/23, Mihoces, Axon, 5.01M) reports, “Brody issued the 132-page ruling in Philadelphia saying the settlement was ‘fair, reasonable, and adequate.’” Jeff Pash, the NFL’s executive vice president and general counsel, said, “Retirees and their families will be eligible for prompt and substantial benefits and will avoid years of costly litigation.” Michael Kaplen, a New York attorney who practices brain injury law, said he expects appeals to be filed by athletes who suffered mild traumatic brain injuries, as they were not included in the settlement.
        The New York Times (4/23, B11, Belson, Subscription Publication, 12.24M) also reports on the ruling, noting that lawyers said Judge Brody did not rule on the NFL’s argument that the case should be dismissed due to a “collective bargaining agreement between the players and the owners.”
        The Los Angeles Times (4/23, Fenno, 4.03M) reports the award for moderate dementia is capped at $1.5 million. “The settlement allows class members to choose certainty in light of the risks of litigation,” Judge Brody wrote. However, “The settlement cuts off compensation in most cases for players who died before 2006.”
        Reuters (4/23, Ginsburg) reports that an estimated 30 percent of former athletes will end up suffering from Alzheimer’s or some other form of dementia. Some athletes, such as 24-year-old San Francisco 49ers linebacker Chris Borland, are even choosing to retire early due to fears of long-term head injuries.
        CNN (4/23, Almasy, Martin, 3.17M) reports, NFL’s top lawyer Jeff Pash said, “Today’s decision powerfully underscores the fairness and propriety of this historic settlement.” The article adds, “More than 50 former NFL players, including Junior Seau and Dave Duerson, have been posthumously diagnosed with” CTE. 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

        BMW recalling 91,800 Mini Coopers to fix sensor. Reuters (4/21) reports BMW said Saturday that it is recalling 91,800 Mini Coopers in the US to replace a defective sensor that may prevent the front passenger seat air bag from deploying in a crash. Automotive Fleet (4/20, 62K) says the affected cars are “2005-2006 model-year Mini Cooper and Cooper S cars manufactured from Jan. 5, 2005, to Nov. 28, 2006, along with 2005-2008-MY Mini Cooper Convertible and Cooper S Convertible cars manufactured from Jan. 5, 2005, to July 31, 2008.” The Car Connection (4/20, Read, 168K) reports NHTSA “says that there are ‘multiple issues causing increased electrical resistance of the sensor mat, associated with production, installation and field exposure (wear).’

NHTSA says nearly 90% of vehicles with defective Takata air bags have not been repaired.

The Legal Examiner (4/20) reports NHTSA said in February that nearly 90% of vehicles “with defective Takata air bags had still not been repaired.” These air bags “may explode upon deployment, sending shrapnel into the interior of the vehicle and potentially causing serious injuries and even death.” With only about two million of the affected 17 million recalled vehicles repaired, NHTSA “is now considering taking additional steps to speed up the process of getting new air bag inflators into consumers’ vehicles.” 

Monday, April 20, 2015

BMW recalls 91,000 Mini Coopers for seat mats. Bloomberg News (4/19, Farrell, 2.94M) reports that BMW of North America is recalling “about 91,800 Mini Coopers in the U.S.” in order to address a problem “with the passenger seat mat that may prevent the air bag from deploying.” NHTSA posted the recall notice on its website yesterday, which said that the sensor in the front passenger seat may not register the presence of a person, making it possible that the airbag might not deploy in a crash, even if the seat were occupied.
        The AP (4/19) reports that the issue pertains to “the 2005 and 2008 models of the Mini Cooper and Cooper S.”
        Reuters (4/19) reports, BMW will replace the passenger-side mat on recalled vehicles. NBC News (4/18, 2.71M) and CNN (4/18, Almasy, 2.05M) had similar coverage. 
        BMW to begin notifying Mini Cooper customers on May 1 to get air bags fixed. In continuing coverage, 24/7 Wall Street (NY) (4/19, Ausick, 127K) reports that BMW of North America has recalled nearly 92,000 Mini Coopers due to defective air bags. The company said it will begin notifying customers on May 1 “to bring their cars in to get the passenger seat occupant detection sensor replaced.” The cars involved include “model year 2005-2006 Mini Cooper and Mini Cooper S manufactured between Jan 2005 and November 2006 and model year 2005-2008 Mini Cooper Convertibles and Cooper S Convertibles made between January 2005 and July 2008.” 

Nissan expands recall of vehicles with Takata airbags.

In continuing coverage of Nissan’s announcement that it would be expanding the latest recalls of cars with Takata-made airbags, the Leftlane News (4/18, King, 4K) website reported that Nissan added about “45,000 decade-old Sentra sedans” to the recall list, “focusing on vehicles that were sold or ever registered in states with high humidity.” Nissan’s statement read that “new field information” has helped the company make its decision, along with “consultation with NHTSA.”

        The Fleet Owner (4/17, Commendatore, 968) website reported that the expanded recall happened “after a woman in Louisiana was injured by shrapnel from an exploding airbag.” 

Friday, April 17, 2015

        Nissan expands US air bag recalls. The AP (4/16, Krisher) reports that Nissan Motor Company has expanded an investigative recall in some US regions to replace potentially defective Takata Corp. air bags. According to Bloomberg News (4/16, Plungis, Fisk, 2.94M), the move comes after a women recently claimed that she was injured “by shrapnel from the device in her 2006 Sentra sedan.” A Nissan spokesperson reportedly said the company filed an incident report with the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Thursday. 

VW recalls nearly 21,000 minivans for the second time.

The AP (4/16) reports on a Volkswagen recall affecting about “21,000 minivans for a second time to fix faulty ignition switches that can cause the vans to stall.” According to the report, the recall affects nearly 18,500 Routan minivans from the model year 2009 and 2,200 from the model year 2010, all of which were made for VW by Fiat Chrysler.
        Leftlane News (4/16, King, 4K) notes that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration launched “an investigation into the first fix after owners of repaired vehicles continued to report inadvertent key movement from ‘run’ to the ‘accessory’ position.”
        Edmunds (4/16, Lienert, 304K) highlights NHTSA’s recall summary, which stated that “Until this recall is performed, customers should remove all items from their key rings, leaving only the ignition key. ... The key fob should also be removed from the key ring. Road conditions or some other jarring event may cause the ignition switch to move out of the run position, turning off the engine. If the ignition key inadvertently moves into the Off or Accessory position, the engine will turn off, which will then depower the various key safety systems, including, but not limited to, airbags, power steering and power braking. Loss of functionality of these systems may increase the risk of a crash and/or increase the risk of injury in the event of a crash.”

        Autoblog (4/16, Bruce, 454K) also reports on the recall. 

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Judge upholds GM’s bankruptcy shield.

In continuing coverage of GM’s faulty ignition switches, the CBS Evening News (4/15, story 9, 0:25, Pelly, 5.08M) reports in its nightly broadcast that a Federal judge ruled the company’s bankruptcy shield established in 2009 prevents the company from being held liable in “death and injury lawsuits tied to defective ignition switches.” CBS notes that the company has tied 84 deaths to the defect.
        The New York (NY) Times (4/16, Stout, Ivory, Subscription Publication, 9.97M) reports that Judge Robert E. Gerber ruled that the liability shield should remain “even though the company has acknowledged that many employees knew about the defective switch at the time but failed to alert owners of the cars that they might have a potential claim against the company.” The Times reports that the ruling “shuts down not only lawsuits stemming from accidents that took place before July 10, 2009, but also most of the suits seeking economic damages for the loss in value of the defective cars.” However, the Times notes that lawsuits related to accidents occurring after the date would be allowed to continue. The Times describes GM’s reactions as “muted and technical,” while families of those affected by the defect were “more emotional.”
        The Los Angeles (CA) Times (4/16, Hirsch, Raab, 3.49M) quotes Bob Hilliard, a Texas attorney representing ignition-switch victims and their families, claiming the ruling “padlocks the courthouse doors” and “Hundreds of victims and their families will go to bed tonight forever deprived of justice. GM, bathing in billions, may now turn its back on the dead and injured, worry free.” Steve Berman, managing partner of Hagens Berman and co-lead counsel representing plaintiffs in nationwide litigation against GM, said he plans to appeal because “It cannot be the law that Old GM could hide the defects, and subsequently use the bankruptcy court as a shield.”
        Reuters (4/15) reports that plaintiffs arguing the economic loss of value lawsuits against the company could proceed if they are based on the actions of New GM, though plaintiffs will continue to challenge the ruling.
        Bloomberg News (4/15, Sandler, 2.94M) reports that Judge Gerber ruled on Wednesday that General Motors Co. may invoke “a bankruptcy shield” against class action lawsuits related to the company’s faulty ignition switch recalls and the “lost value for 27 million recalled cars,” protecting GM from $10 billion in lawsuit claims. However, according to Bloomberg, the Judge also stated that “car owners can still sue over its failure to warn of the defects.”

        USA Today (4/15, Woodyard, Today, 4.95M), the Wall Street Journal (4/16, Bennett, Subscription Publication, 5.67M) and Forbes (4/15, 6.54M) report on this story. 

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

NHTSA investigates 2012 Subaru Impreza air bag seat sensors. The AP, Reuters and several auto trade publications report that the NHTSA has opened an investigation into Subaru Impreza sedans from model year 2012. The NHTSA launched the probe, which covers about 33,500 vehicles, after receiving complaints about the air bag sensors in the seats. Reports note that there have been no reported injuries linked to the air bag issue.
        According to the AP (4/14), the NHTSA said it received “26 complaints that the sensors turned off the front passenger air bag even though an adult was sitting in the seat.”
        Reuters (4/14, Klayman) reports that on Tuesday, a spokesman for Subaru spokesman said the company expects to soon receive a request from the NHTSA for information.
        Auto World News (4/15, Mercuro, 1K) reports that while the NHTSA’s “preliminary evaluation” does not “necessarily mean” the agency will request a recall, it is “usually the first step to determine if an automaker needs to address an issue with one or more of its vehicles.”
        Also covering the story in a similar manner as the sources above are Edmunds (4/15, Lienert, 304K) and Leftlane News (4/14, King, 4K). 
        BMW, Nissan recall over 94,000 vehicles for stalling issues. Citing two separate filings with the NHTSA, Car and Driver (4/15, Atiyeh, 10.49M) reports BMW and Nissan are recalling 94,296 vehicles equipped with “fuel pumps that can possibly cause the engine to stall.” The article says that both Nissan and BMW contacted Bosch, the fuel pump’s supplier, last year after a rise in warranty claims that “were made for 2014 and 2015 model-year cars that either wouldn’t start or would stall while driving.” According to the report, both companies plan to “notify customers to bring in their cars for a fuel pump replacement by the end” of this month. 
Only a fraction of Jeeps repaired almost two years after recall started. The AP (4/15, Krisher) reports that after almost two years after agreeing to recall 1.56 million Jeeps, which “could catch fire in rear-end crashes,” Fiat Chrysler has completed repairs on “only a fraction of” the vehicles included in the recall. The automaker has repaired 4% of the Jeep Grand Cherokees and 27% of the Jeep Liberty models that were recalled. The AP notes that the NHTSA has been “sparring” with the automaker for over a year about “repair rates for the recall, which involves installing trailer hitches to help protect the Jeeps’ gas tanks in a rear-end crash.” According to the report, NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind said last week that the agency plans to “closely monitor Chrysler’s first-quarter repair rates and said NHTSA wants 100 percent completion.”

        The Detroit Bureau (4/15, Eisenstein) similarly reports on the story. 

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Death Toll From Defective GM Ignition Switch Rises to 84

The death toll from General Motors’ defective ignition switch has risen by four from a week earlier to 84, the office administrating GM’s compensation fund said.
The office of attorney Kenneth Feinberg, who is overseeing victim compensation on GM’s behalf, approved 84 death claims and 157 injury claims as of April 10.
The 157 injury claims, 11 more than the prior week, are a combination of claims for serious injuries and claims for less severe injuries.
Eleven claims were categorized as serious injuries resulting in quadriplegia, paraplegia, double amputation, permanent brain damage or pervasive burn. The remaining 146 claims were for less serious injuries requiring hospitalization or outpatient medical treatment within 48 hours of the accident.
The deadline for victims to file claims was Jan. 31.
GM hired Feinberg last year to compensate victims after the automaker recalled 2.6 million vehicles with faulty ignition switches.
The defective switches can move from the “run” position, which would cut power to the power steering, brakes and airbags. A person seeking compensation must prove that the airbag did not deploy, and must show that the defective switch was the primary cause of the crash.
GM originally said it knew of 13 deaths linked to the defect.
Feinberg’s office received 4,342 claims. Of those claims, 241 have been deemed eligible. Feinberg’s office is still reviewing another 1,136 claims.
GM estimated that it will pay out $400 million to $600 million to compensate victims through Feinberg’s program.

Honda confirms that Takata airbag was responsible for injuries in March accident.

Reuters (4/14) reports that Honda confirmed on Monday that Takata manufactured the airbag in a 2003 Honda Civic that exploded and injured a driver during a March 20th accident in Florida. However, Reuters reports that Honda claims it sent two recall notices to the driver warning that the vehicle contained Takata airbags

Monday, April 13, 2015

Takata Airbag on Honda Civic Linked to Another Injury

DETROIT (Reuters) -- Faulty airbags supplied by Takata Corp. have been linked to another injury involving a Honda Motor Co. car in Florida in March.
A 2003 model Honda Civic's airbag exploded and a piece of metal shot out from the bag into the driver's neck, according to police and hospital reports.
The shrapnel was removed after an emergency surgery, hospital records showed. The report said "an airbag deployed sending foreign body toward patient."
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it has not yet been confirmed that the accident involved an airbag rupture.
"If it is confirmed that this is another rupture, then it would simply reinforce the reasons that we are working so hard to get these airbags remedied as quickly as we can," NHTSA communications director Gordon Trowbridge said.
"Honda is working with representatives of the vehicle's owner to inspect the vehicle and determine whether a rupture of the airbag inflator occurred in this crash. Until this determination has been made, Honda will have no further comment," said Honda spokesman Chris Martin.
Honda said on March 19 it would add more than 100,000 vehicles to a U.S. recall related to potentially defective airbags made by Takata that can deploy with too much force and spray occupants with metal shards.
"We will work in close collaboration with Honda to determine the facts and circumstances surrounding the situation," Takata said in an email to Reuters.
Six deaths have been linked to the problem so far, all involving Honda cars.
About 25 million vehicles with Takata airbags have been recalled worldwide since 2008.
NHTSA may reopen case on Jeep gas tanks as study links issue to 75 deaths. The Consumerist (4/10, Kieler, 54K) website reported that NHTSA may be “relaunching the investigation into millions of model year 1993 to 2007 Jeeps.” The announcement comes only five months after the agency closed the investigation on whether the rear-mounted fuel tanks in those models “sit too low and put the vehicle at risk of catching fire if involved in a rear-end explosion.” The article noted that Chrysler maintains that the design is not safety defect, but documents show “nearly 75 deaths” have resulted from the issue.