Cruel reason mum wasn’t covered for airbag explosion


A SUNSHINE Coast mother has been left in chronic pain awaiting urgent spinal surgery after the airbags in her car exploded on a hot day.

She is now suing the vehicle manufacturer after it allegedly refused to take responsibility for the defect.

The woman was also not covered by motor vehicle insurance because she was not driving at the time the airbags exploded.

Caloundra office manager Deanna de Luca, 48, in February leant in to the driver's side of her Nissan Murano to turn on the air-conditioning and open the windows before hopping in with her two daughters, aged 14 and 16.

As she turned over the ignition, most of the airbags in the car inflated, throwing Ms de Luca into the side of the vehicle and onto the road.

"I was so frightened; I thought I had been hit by another car," she told The Sunday Mail.

"It was as loud as a gunshot and I couldn't hear anything.

"My children helped me on to the kerb and sat me down, and it took about 20 minutes for me to realise what had happened."

Golden Beach woman Deanna De Luca with daughters Nikita, 16, and Jette, 14. Picture Lachie Millard
Golden Beach woman Deanna De Luca with daughters Nikita, 16, and Jette, 14. Picture Lachie Millard

The 48-year-old mother of two did not initially realise she had been badly injured and believed she only suffered a cracked rib.

"The pain in my rib cage started getting worse. I was getting headaches and it became so debilitating I couldn't lift my head off my pillow," Ms de Luca said.

"I just thought: 'It will go away, it will go away' and that my body was going through a process.

"It wasn't until quite a few months later I realised I had to do something about it."

She later had an MRI and found she had two bulging discs that were so severe they were squashing Ms de Luca's spinal cord in half.

The woman is now on the category one urgent list for spinal surgery.

After Nissan allegedly refusing to take responsibility, Ms de Luca decided to take legal action to recoup her medical bills as she waits for surgery.

"I took the vehicle to Nissan. My brother helped me drive it because I was scared they were going to go off again. They had it for months and months and months and eventually they told me: 'too bad' and that they couldn't do anything," Ms de Luca said.

She is in the pre-court phase with Shine Lawyers seeking damages for negligence.

"It's affected everything in my life - I'm irritable, in constant pain and can't do any of the things I used to do," she said.

"There have been a lot of moments in the past year when I haven't wanted to be here."

Ms de Luca said she specifically bought a car that did not have Takata airbags because she knew they had been recalled.

"Something could have happened to my beautiful girls - it could have been devastating. It could have done anything to them," she said.

"I guess you buy a car because you want to protect your family and know that it's safe and to have that happen it was such a shock.

"I just think that people know that it can happen and Nissan need to realise they can't get away with selling a faulty car and just completely drop someone."

Shine Lawyers motor accident specialist Georgia Johnson it was not clear whether Ms de Luca's case was an isolated event.

"It's our fear that it could be more widespread," she said.

"Deanna is definitely someone who has slipped through the cracks.

"If she was driving the car and involved in a collision she would have fallen under legislation that covers this area.

"Our claim is based on proving someone has been negligent and this could include the manufacturer, a warranty, at the moment it's very difficult to quantify."

Nissan was unable to be contacted.

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