According to reports, a Florida woman who died in a car crash on July 19 may be the 19th person that has died as a result of Takeda’s defective airbags. While the exact cause of her death is still unknown, the National Highway Safety Administration said her car was equipped with an original Takeda airbag — it was among the millions of recalled airbags that have yet to be replaced.

According to reports, Nichol Lynn Becker, 34, died after colliding with another car. Her airbag did deploy, but investigators are looking into whether it was faulty. The other two passengers in the car walked away with minor injuries.

The investigation into the cause of death continues, but it is possible that this woman died as a result of a faulty airbag made by Takeda.

About the Takeda Airbag Recall

The defective exploding airbags involves more than 46 million vehicles, two-thirds of which have yet to be repaired. The initial recall occurred two years ago and has been linked to at least 18 deaths and more than 180 injuries.

The recall, which involves vehicles made by 19 different automakers, involves driver-side and passenger-side airbags for a defect that could cause them to deploy explosively, resulting in severe injury or death.

According to the recall, the airbag’s inflator may explode during a car crash, shooting out tiny metal shreds that can cause serious injury.  High temperatures and environmental moisture can improperly inflate the airbags, sending an explosion of metal pieces into the vehicle’s cabin upon deployment.

The recall includes approximately 65 million vehicles worldwide; 42 million in the U.S.

In the Midst of the Recall Takeda Files Bankruptcy

In the midst of the largest airbag recall in automotive history, Japanese auto supply company Takeda Corp. filed for bankruptcy protection, announcing that it would be selling the majority of its operations to a company based in Michigan.

Takeda said in a statement that competitor Key Safety Systems would be purchasing most of its assets for roughly $1.6 billion. According to the auto supply company, money generated from the sale and bankruptcy reorganization is set to cover costs related to its national defective airbag recall, including a $1 billion settlement that was reached by the company and the U.S. Justice Department in January.

According to Takeda, the recall will continue under supervision of the 19 affected automakers.

Millions of Vehicles Still Not Repaired

Despite the importance of the recall, nearly two-thirds of affected vehicles have yet to be repaired.

“It’s been two years since the first nationwide recall, and we still can’t get these potentially deadly vehicles repaired fast enough,” U.S. Senator Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) said in a news release earlier this month. “We’ve got to pick up the pace on boosting production of replacement inflators and assisting consumers who need to get their vehicles fixed.”

Takeda claims its decision to file for bankruptcy protection will not affect the recall and that repairs will continue to be made under supervision of the 19 affected automakers. But, how do we know these repairs will be made in a timely manner, especially since it’s already been two years? We don’t.

What we do know is millions of people are driving around with airbags that could potentially explode upon collision, resulting in more injuries and deaths. This is a serious situation that should not be taken lightly.

If you or a loved one has a vehicle that is affected by the recall, you should seek repairs right away. Work should be done as soon as the parts are available and service can be scheduled.

Owners of older vehicles and those who live in places with high temperatures and humidity such as Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and the Gulf States should seek repairs as soon as possible as these conditions could trigger the defect.

Why Is It Taking So Long?

In many cases, vehicle owners have tried to get their defective airbags replaced but are waiting on availability. According to NHTSA, there aren’t enough replacement parts available, yet, but automakers are getting them as fast as they can.

States with higher temps and humidity have priority over other states. Despite where you live, if your car has been included in the recall, you should contact your dealer right away to get on the list for repairs. If you are not the original owner of your vehicle, it is also important that you find out where the vehicle was owned preciously as it could have been driven in a higher humidity area before you purchased it.

How to Know if Your Vehicle is Affected?

Faulty airbags were installed in a range of vehicles made between 2002 and 2015 by Acura, Audi, BMW, Chrysler, Ferrari, Ford/Lincoln, General Motors, Honda, Infinity, Jaguar, Lexus, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Subaru, Tulsa, Toyota/Sion and Volkswagen.

If you are unsure whether your vehicle has been recalled, you can type your VIN number into NHTSA’s VIN lookup tool.

Worried about Driving before Repairs can be Made?

If your vehicle has been recalled and you are waiting on repairs, you may want to minimize driving until parts are available. Of course this may be difficult depending on your occupation and life style, but it may something to consider.

If you go to NHTSA’s website and type your VIN number in the look-up tool, you will learn which airbag is affected. If the passenger side is affected, but not the driver, don’t let anyone sit it in the passenger side until you can have it replaced.

If the driver side is affected as well, you should:

  • Minimize driving by carpooling with others.
  • Utilize public transportation when possible.
  • Rent a car — you can ask your dealer if he/she has a car he/she can loan you (free of charge) while waiting for repairs. While not all carmakers will be able to do this, it may put pressure on the manufacturer to fix your car quickly.

Seek Legal Help for Damages Associated with Defective Airbags

If you or a loved one has a recalled vehicle and has suffered injury from a defective airbag, you can seek compensation for all costs associated with this injury. In severe cases where someone was killed as a result of flying metal pieces, the family can seek compensation through a wrongful death lawsuit.

If you or a loved one has suffered injuries in a car crash over the last few years and were driving or riding in a recalled vehicle, you may qualify for compensation without even knowing it. Abrasions, cuts and scrapes may appear as if they are a direct result of the crash or a window breaking. But, you may want to have the crash investigated to determine if the airbag improperly deployed and exploded during the crash. In cases such as these, the collision may have been the initial cause of injury but the defective airbag may have resulted in more severe injuries caused by flying metal pieces.

Defective airbag lawsuits & settlements can be used to recover other damages such as the cost of a vehicle rental or public transportation while waiting for repairs to be made. Other inconveniences like missed work can also be sought.