HOUSTON - A Houston-area woman said she is thankful to be alive after she reportedly suffered severe lacerations from an exploding airbag in September.
42 year-old Serena Martinez said she was driving to work through a residential area of a Cinco Ranch subdivision when another driver crashed into the right passenger side of her recalled 2002 Honda Accord.
The Takata airbag exploded sending shrapnel into her chest and hands.
She has hired several attorneys including Mo Aziz, familiar with the Takata airbag recall, to sue Takata and American Honda, amongst other parties involved in the accident.
Serena Martinez said the three inches is all that kept a piece of sharp metal from killing her.
“I thought I was going to bleed to death,” said Martinez. “I felt a burning and pain in my chest. I remember looking down and seeing blood all over my shirt.” The shrapnel bursting from the alleged defective detonator in her airbag sliced her chest inches away from a major artery.
“In the ambulance I was told that I had a large laceration on my chest and wounds on my hand," said Martinez.
This is the second victim Attorney Mo Aziz is representing. The first was the family of 17 year-old Huma Hanif. She died when shrapnel from her exploding Takata airbag lodged in her neck.
Aziz said neither family ever received notice of the Honda recall and said Honda should have done more to protect drivers.
“They knew about it. They should have known about it and when they did find out, instead of stopping the manufacturing they sold millions and millions of these units. So this problem is out there,” said Aziz.
According to Honda and Acura’s website, in recent months, the dealers have replaced upwards of 20,000 Takata airbag inflators on a daily basis. In total, approximately 7.8 million Takata inflators have been replaced.
Honda has authorized it’s dealers to provide free loaner cars for affected owners experiencing a delay in their recall replacements, including teenage drivers. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said manufacturers and dealers are not required to do this. This can add to the problems for many affected car owners that were waiting for backlogged manufacturers delivering the high amount of replacement parts to dealerships.
The faulty airbag has killed 10 people in the US and caused more than 150 injuries. According to Consumer Reports, nine of the eleven Takata-related deaths in the U.S. gave occurred in Acura and Honda models. Honda reports that there are just under 300,000 affected vehicles that have not been repaired or accounted for.
Texas, specifically the Gulf Coast is at greater risk because the heat and humidity can cause the inflators to explode when the airbag deploys.
"Airbags are supposed to protect and save lives,” said Martinez.
To check if your vehicle is recalled, go to safercar.gov.
A spokesperson for Honda told KHOU 11, they could not give official comment on Martinez’ case until it had sufficient time to review the facts and check if they had been officially served notice of a lawsuit.