Already facing a massive recall of more than 6 million vehicles around the globe, Honda Motors is again under intense scrutiny from safety regulators. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Honda failed to report 1,729 accidents that occurred between 2003 and 2014. Media reports indicate that the company was aware of the accidents and that the underreporting was due to data entry and computer programming issues. The problem was discovered when the NHTSA requested that Honda review their internal reporting processes.
Every quarter, automakers are mandated to report any and all death or injury claims resulting from the use of one of their vehicles to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. These reports are further investigated and analyzed, and it is then determined whether an issue that requires a recall caused the accidents.
In November of last year, Honda initiated their tenth recall related to faulty airbags manufactured by Takata Corp. There have been four deaths attributed to the airbags thus far. When the airbags deploy, they can explode and dispel shrapnel throughout the cabin of the vehicle. The airbag recall involves five different Honda models (none are sold in the U.S.) as well as models by Ford, General Motors, Toyota, and six other motor vehicle companies. Takata has denied reports, based on statements from former employees, that the company was aware of the potential for severe problems and doctored test results for years.
In September of 2013, Air Force Lt. Stephanie Erdman was involved in an accident involving “moderate frontal impact” in Destin, Florida that caused her airbag to open in her 2002 Honda Accord (equipped with a Takata airbag). She suffered severe eye and facial injuries after a piece of shrapnel from the airbag pierced her eye and fracturing her nasal bone. Meanwhile, her passenger only received minor injuries. “I should have gotten a few bumps and bruises like the passenger in my car,” Erdman said. “I should not have been injured in the shocking and terrifying way that I was.” Erdmann is still recovering from her injuries, and along with visible scarring, her vision will likely never fully recover.
Among the 1,729 accidents that Honda failed to report, eight were related to the Takata airbags and at least one resulted in a fatality. The NHTSA can charge the company multiple fines for as much as $35 million dollars each for underreporting these accidents. Citing the relatively nominal fees for the company, which makes billions annually, Treasury Secretary Anthony Foxx is requesting that Congress increases the minimum fines for these transgressions to $300 million.
At Crosley Law Firm, we have dealt with many personal injury claims related to defective products such as airbags in the past. If you or someone you know is injured as a result of a defective product, contact one of the qualified, experienced attorneys at Crosley Law Firm right away. You can call our office at (877) 535-4529 to schedule a free consultation or you can fill out our convenient free case review form; one of our attorneys will get back to you promptly.
Debord, M. (2014, November 20). Senators Are Looking At A Gruesome Image Of A Takata Airbag Injury. Business Insider. Retrieved from www.businessinsider.com/senators-are-looking-at-a-gruesome-image-of-a-takata-airbag-injury-2014-11
Isiodore, C. (2014, November 20). Takata Airbag Victims Looked Like They Had Been Shot Or Stabbed. CNN Money. Retrieved from http://money.cnn.com/2014/11/20/autos/takata-airbag-victims/index.html?iid=EL
Isiodore, C., & Lobosco, K. (2014, November 25). Honda Underreported 1,729 Deaths And Injuries. CNN Money. Retrieved from http://money.cnn.com/2014/11/24/news/companies/honda-underreport-deaths-injuries/index.html?hpt=hp_t3
Riley, C. (2014, November 13). Honda Recalls 170,000 More Vehicles Over Exploding Airbags. CNN Money. Retrieved from http://money.cnn.com/2014/11/13/autos/honda-airbag-recall/?iid=EL