Driver Claims Airbag Exploded Without Crash, Scarring Her

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Fabiola Guitierrez De Pineres still gets emotional just talking about it, faced with permanent scars that required skin grafts after suffering second degree burns from her hand to above her forearm.

“It makes me feel ugly to be honest with you,” said De Pineres.

Last month, she was driving her mother’s Jeep through her neighborhood when she says, with no accident, not even a bump, both the driver and passenger side airbags spontaneously deployed, like an explosion.

“It was so loud that I thought, ‘Oh my God. I’m dead.’ It took me a couple of minutes to realize that the airbags just went off by itself. The next thing I see is that I’m bleeding through my arm,’ said De Pineres.

She took herself to the hospital and later to attorney Jason Turchin.

“Any moment these airbags could just explode,” said Turchin. “There’s nothing that caused the airbag to disengage other than a defect.”

Turchin is representing De Pineres and three others in separate lawsuits – all victims who he says have suffered similar injuries after the airbags on their Jeeps exploded without impact.

The 2002 Jeep Liberty De Pineres was driving had a recall issued for the airbags in 2015 and notices were sent to owners by mail, but De Pineres, whose mother bought the car from a family member around 2002, says they never got one.

Jeep’s manufacturer, FCA told CBS4 that several notices were sent to the last known address for the family. Although De Pineres registered her car with the state of Florida, she did not update her address with the manufacturer directly.

Turchin says, even so, the recall FCA did post online and the postcards sent to car owners didn’t go far enough.

“It simply says that a driver may be distracted or it may cause a crash. This defect can kill people, can maim them, can scar them for life,” said Turchin.

Jeep’s manufacturer sent CBS4 News the following statement,

“FCA U.S. regrets this incident. Accordingly, we urge customers to advise us – either directly or through a dealer – when they acquire a pre-owned Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram or Fiat vehicle. The same holds true for any change of address. Safety is paramount at FCA U.S. and the company reminds that recall service is performed free of charge. Right now by law, manufacturers only have to contact the last registered owner of the car.”

If you aren’t sure about your car, you can always log onto checktoprotect.org and enter your VIN number to find out if your car has any recalls.

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