DENVER -- A day after the largest auto recall in history, the attorney behind one of the first lawsuits involving Takata’s defective air bags called what has happened "absolutely unacceptable."
Yehuda Smolar has represented victims in several cases involving defective Takata air bags over the past several years, and he says the expanded recall should come as a warning to all drivers.
"It can happen and does happen to people who are careful and to people who should have been protected,” Smolar said.
Takata’s expanded recall involves nearly 34 million vehicles in the United States, roughly one in seven on the road.
Check your car
You can check to see if your vehicle is part of the recall by entering the VIN number, just follow this link to safercar.gov. But experts warn that you’ll want to keep checking for several weeks because many manufacturers still don’t have a complete list of vehicles.
Takata denied it’s airbags were defective for more than 10 years, despite mounting evidence and lawsuits. That began to change with the case of Brandi Brewer, an Atlanta woman who was injured in 2013.
"There was absolutely no damage, whatsoever, to the exterior of the vehicle,” Smolar said. “It was a bump where the airbag should have not deployed at all."
Instead of inflating, the entire airbag unit shot into the backseat of Brewer’s Chevy Cruze, injuring her with shrapnel in the process. Her lawsuit originally helped prompt a GM recall of nearly 30,000 Chevy Cruzes, but it is now part of the 34 million vehicle recall by Takata.
"They are telling us, by their own admission, that they have an unstable explosive, that's absolutely unacceptable in this day and age,” Smolar said.
Technicians at Planet Honda in Golden and many other dealerships are still busy replacing airbags that were recalled long before the expanded recall.
Lee Payne, owner of Planet Honda, said owners who haven’t been notified of a recall already, will likely have to wait a long time.
“Some of our longest lead time parts are on back order until September,” Payne said. “So we’re going to go all the way through the summer where there’s cars we don’t have a part to repair.”
Honda is far from alone. It is one of 11 major manufacturers impacted by the air bag recall.
"There is no easy fix and essentially it's going to take a long time,” Smolar said. “While this is ongoing, the American public is playing Russian roulette."