MIAMI (CBSMiami) — A Japanese-based auto parts maker is about to be in the hot seat in the nation’s capital as they face a senate panel and pressure from a federal agency to recall millions of airbags across the US.
The airbags can explode and cause metal fragments to hit drivers and passengers.
South Florida attorney Jason Turchin represents several clients who’ve been injured by shrapnel from exploding Takata airbags.
“If the companies plead the fifth and refuse to answer questions, this can go down a path of a criminal investigation where the outcome could be, some of the executives going to prison and the company paying significant fines for what they knew and didn’t disclose,” said Turchin.
Claribel Nunez is one of Turchin’s clients.
Four months ago Nunez crashed her 2001 Honda Civic and she said a piece of metal shot out of her airbag leading to a painful cut on her forehead that required 12 stitches. She’s still suffering to this day.
Nunez said she has pain in her ears. Her eyes bother her and she said she has problems with her sinuses.
What began as a small batch of recalls reached more than 11 million by this summer and now could more than double in size.
Takata insists current recalls issued only in high-humidity areas where they believe the airbags are more likely to rupture are enough.
“This could become a national epidemic or in fact a worldwide epidemic because if the vehicles have issues outside of a humid-only zone, this could affect everybody,” said Turchin.
At a senate hearing on Thursday being lead by Florida Senator Bill Nelson, representatives from Takata, Honda, and Chrysler are expected to testify along with another Florida woman injured by an exploding airbag.
Claribel hopes Takata takes action before someone else ends up injured like she did or worse.
Nunez said she would like for them to change the bags because she said this problem will continue if they don’t do something.
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