In 2015, Kelijah Hall, then 19 years old, was driving her Nissan Sentra in Charlotte when she was involved in a collision on Lawyers Road. The driver-side Takata airbag in her vehicle deployed on impact, but instead of protecting her in the crash, it seriously damaged her eye, according to her lawsuit.
Charlotte’s WSOCTV Channel 9 uncovered the lawsuit and noted in a recent report that Hall seeks more than $75,000 plus punitive damages from the automaker and its airbag supplier.
According to her complaint, the Takata airbag “exploded, ruptured and burst,” shooting metal shrapnel from the airbag’s container at her face.
Now 22, Hall has undergone “multiple operations” on her damaged eye and continues to receive treatment for the injury. She experienced pain, bleeding, infection, discharge and a loss of vision, her lawsuit alleges, according to WSOCTV’s report.
In addition to her physical injuries, Hall also alleges she suffers from permanent cosmetic problems.
Hall is one of about 300 people who have been injured by Takata airbags, which can explode with lethal force even in the most minor collisions. Several others injured by Takata airbags have suffered eye damage, including U.S. Air Force Officer Stephanie Erdman, who was featured in a public service announcement urging motorists to take the Takata airbag recall seriously.
Mary Lou Rodriguez, a resident of the Rio Grande Valley city of Harlingen, TX, also suffered a serious eye injury when the Takata airbag in her Honda deployed with violent force.
Takata airbags are also linked to 23 deaths worldwide, most of which have occurred in the U.S.
The defect in the airbags stems from Takata’s use of ammonium nitrate in the inflator mechanisms that deploy the airbag in a crash. The chemical compound becomes more unstable and hypersensitive as it ages, especially if exposed to hot and humid conditions, and can cause the airbags to explode in a collision.
The Takata airbag recall is the largest and most complex vehicle recall in U.S. history, involving 19 vehicle manufacturers, 37 million U.S. vehicles and approximately 50 million airbag units.