It sounds like the sort of nightmare we would associate with a distant war zone but the danger of air bags exploding and sending shrapnel into the driver's face is very real and has led to the recall of more than 12 million vehicles.
The scenario is also more likely in humid southern states such as South Carolina.
Recently Click2Houston reported how four deaths and dozens of injuries have been linked to faulty air bags. More than 12 million vehicles are currently subject to a recall to repair the airbags. Whereas past recalls such as the GM recalls over a faulty ignition switch were linked to one manufacturer, the airbag danger affects a wide range of makes and models.
The TV report stated a Texas woman filed a lawsuit in Houston against the airbag's manufacturer after she was permanently scarred.
Stephanie Erdman and a friend were driving home from the movies when a car pulled in front of her 2002 Honda Civic and she hit it. The collision, described as a fender bender, triggered the airbag inside her car. But instead of protecting her from the impact of the crash, pieces of shrapnel and metal flew through the airbag cushion and into her face.
Erdman lost part of her eyesight and required multiple reconstructive surgeries to rebuild her eyelid.
"There has not been (a day) that's gone by that this has not affected me in some way," she said.
Erdman filed a lawsuit against Honda and Takata Corporation, the manufacturer of the airbags, claiming the airbag's inflator was faulty, causing it to rupture.
Takata makes about a fifth of the global supply of airbags. Twelve million vehicles, made by Nissan, Subaru, Honda, Mitsubishi, Toyota, BMW, Ford, General Motors and Chrysler, dating back to 2001, were made with the Takata model airbags and are covered in a recent worldwide recall.
Federal regulators with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have warned the airbags constitute an "immediate risk." They believe moisture in the air, particularly in humid climates like Texas and Florida, causes the inflator chemicals to burn too quickly, creating too much pressure. Similar climatic conditions exist in South Carolina. Watchdogs are urging owners to get repairs immediately. But many auto dealers have warned there aren't enough replacement parts to meet the demand.
Erdman said she just wants to get the word out about the recall before another accident happens like the one that left her scarred, according to the news report.
"This should have never happened," Erdman said. "I purchased this vehicle for safety purposes and the item that was supposed to be safe caused more injury than helping me out at all," she said.
You can check to see if your vehicle is included in this recall by clicking here and entering your VIN.
If you have been injured by an airbag, a tire or any other defective car part, you may have grounds to file a lawsuit against a manufacturer. Call our Columbia car accident lawyers at 803.748.9990.