12 Investigates: Honda airbag settlement

Guddi Ratore
Guddi Ratore

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) - No amount of money can erase the loss, but a Henrico family is settling with Honda over an accident that killed a mother in front of her children.

As NBC12 first reported, the West End family sued the automaker after an airbag exploded in the woman's face, killing her instantly.

It was Christmas Eve, Guddi Rathore and her three kids had just wrapped up their last minute shopping. They were headed to grandma's house, driving west on Farmington in her 2001 Honda Accord. 9-year-old Saj was in the passenger seat; 10-year-old Simran and her 3-year-old sister were in the back.

A mail truck pulled out in front of Rathore near the intersection with Condover Road.

It was a minor fender bender. There wasn't much damage to her Honda, but Guddi Rathore died. The family says her airbag exploded in her face.

"There's a large laceration to the left side of her neck and it extended into the neck to the point where her arteries were severed," said the family's attorney Elizabeth West.

Rathore bled to death, in her Honda, in front of her children.

In some Hondas, the airbag is deploying with too much pressure, essentially exploding the steering wheel - shooting metal fragments at a person.

A video from a crash test for a 2001 Honda Accord at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety in Virginia shows how the airbag is supposed to respond. In pictures of the faulty airbags, there's a big difference. The airbag is blown out and looks destroyed.

Honda agreed to settle with the family for $3 million. Attorney's for the family took a million. Rathore's three children will each get $567,000 in a bank account they can access on their 18th birthdays.

The family signed a confidentiality agreement and, at the advice of attorneys, has decided not to speak publicly.

In a statement, Honda spokesperson Chris Martin said, "We'd like to express our deepest condolences to the family and we're glad this matter has been resolved."

According to Martin, the company Takata actually paid the settlement. Takata is a major supplier of airbags and seat belts worldwide. Honda says a Takata error caused the defective airbags.

Rathore was hit by a mail delivery truck in that accident. According to court documents, the family also settled with the US government - which agreed to pay $500,000.

Honda has recalled more than two million vehicles since 2008 because of faulty airbags. The most recent recall is not related to the exploding airbag problem. It's a separate issue.

The latest recall involves the Pilot Crossover Vehicles from model years 2009 to 2013 and the Odyssey Minivans, from model years 2011 to 2013.

For details on all Honda recalls go to: 

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