Airbag Defects

We Help Victims and Families Recover Just Compensation for Defective Airbags

When you buy or lease a vehicle, you expect all of its components to work properly. You expect your car, truck or SUV to get you where you need to go, and you expect it to protect you in the event of a crash.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t always happen.

Vehicle defects are alarmingly common, and some of these defects can put drivers and passengers at risk for serious injury. This includes airbag defects. Takata has recalled tens of millions of defective airbags, and their airbags have been linked to hundreds of injuries and dozens of deaths.

Defective Airbags: Common Causes of Airbag-Related Injuries

Defective airbags are a common cause of airbag-related injuries. These defects can take several forms, and they can lead to injuries and fatalities in different ways. For example, some of the most common types of airbag defects include:

Defective Airbag Electronics

Airbags are connected to the vehicle’s electronic system. The electronics that connect airbags to the vehicle’s sensors and trigger the airbag’s inflator to activate must work properly in order for an airbag to serve its intended purpose. If there are any defects in an airbag’s electronics, then the airbag may not timely inflate in the event of a collision and in some cases it is late in its deployment not affording protection to the occupants. Alternatively, the airbag may inflate unexpectedly, or it may explode with such extreme force putting the driver or passenger at risk for severe injury or cause their death.

Defective Airbag Inflators

Defective airbag inflators can also cause airbags to explode—sending plastic shrapnel, metal fragments and other debris flying toward drivers and passengers. Takata has recalled tens of millions of airbags due to defective inflators, and ARC has faced requests from the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration (NHTSA) to recall tens of millions of its airbags due to concerns over defective airbag inflators as well.

Defective Impact Sensors

Airbags inflate (or are supposed to inflate) when sensors in the vehicle detect a collision. Modern vehicles have multiple impact sensors that send signals to trigger specific airbags depending on the severity and location of the impact. If these sensors are defective, then the vehicle’s airbags may not inflate—and this can create serious (if not life-threatening) risks for drivers and passengers.

Defective On/Off Sensors

Modern vehicles also have on/off sensors that deactivate certain airbags when a seat is empty or a driver or passenger is too light for an airbag to provide proper protection. If an on/off sensor defect allows an airbag to inflate when it shouldn’t, this can potentially be more dangerous than a collision without airbag deployment. Conversely, if an on/off sensor deactivates an airbag when the airbag should be on, this can create a risk for serious or fatal injury as well.

Two Main Types of Airbag Defects

What does it mean for an airbag to be “defective”? Lots of products have issues, and not all issues rise to the level of a defect.

Broadly, a product is considered “defective” if it is unsafe for its intended use when it leaves the factory. When it comes to airbags, there are two main types of defects:

  • Design Defects – An airbag suffers from a design defect if it is unsafe even when manufactured according to specification. For example, if an airbag is prone to exploding due to the materials specified for its manufacture, it suffers from a design defect.
  • Manufacturing Defects – An airbag suffers from a manufacturing defect if it is unsafe due to issues arising during the manufacturing process. For example, if the manufacturing plant uses the wrong materials or assembles an airbag improperly, these would both be examples of manufacturing defects.

Of course, as a consumer, you won’t necessarily know that a product you are purchasing is defective. You may have no way of knowing about the defect, especially when the product is hidden inside of something else (like an airbag in a vehicle). This is an unfortunate reality of modern life; and, while companies are supposed to take adequate steps to avoid selling defective products, it is clear that many companies do far less than what is required.

Who (or What Company) is Liable for an Airbag Defect?

Due to the risks associated with defective airbags (and other defective products), the law provides victims and their families with clear legal rights after accidents involving defects. Under the law of “strict liability,” airbag and vehicle manufacturers can be held “strictly liable” for putting defective airbags on the roads. This means that proof of negligence is not required. If a company sells a defective airbag, it is liable for any losses resulting from the defect—without the need to prove that the company could have identified and remedied the issue.

Two companies that have recently been in the spotlight for selling defective airbags are ARC and Takata. Takata has already recalled tens of millions of airbags with defective inflators, while ARC is facing pressure from regulators to issue a recall due to similar concerns. If you or a loved one has been harmed by an ARC or Takata airbag, you may have a claim for just compensation.

How Do You File a Claim for a Defective Airbag?

Filing a claim for a defective airbag starts with hiring an experienced lawyer to represent you. Whether you have a claim against ARC, Takata or a vehicle manufacturer, you will need an experienced lawyer on your side. Once you hire a lawyer, your lawyer can investigate the accident, take the steps necessary to preserve the evidence, hire needed experts and engineers to prove the defect and then fight to recover just compensation on your (or your family’s) behalf.

Legal Challenges in Pursuing Compensation for Airbag Injuries

While victims of defective airbags have clear legal rights, this doesn’t mean that asserting your legal rights is easy. In fact, victims who are pursuing compensation for airbag injuries can run into several legal challenges along the way. This makes working with an experienced airbag defect lawyer extremely important; and, if you think you may have a claim, it is best if you speak with a lawyer as soon as possible.

Some common examples of legal challenges in pursuing compensation for airbag injuries include:

Proving that Your Airbag was Defective

One of the first legal challenges you are likely to face is proving that your airbag was defective. While there are many well-known issues with airbags manufactured by Takata and other companies, you must be able to prove that your airbag was defective when filing a claim.

What it takes to prove that an airbag was defective depends on the circumstances involved. If your airbag suffered from one of the well-known issues with Takata’s airbags, for example, then proving the defect may be relatively straightforward. If your airbag suffered from a different defect, then additional steps may be required. Without the vehicle as evidence, it may be impossible to prove a defect. If the vehicle gets parted out, salvaged or destroyed, then the likelihood of ever proving your case is very low. 

Proving that the Airbag Defect Caused Your Injuries

In addition to proving that your airbag was defective, you must also be able to prove that the defect caused your injuries. While this may seem obvious, the insurance companies will fight your claim by all means available. Seeking medical treatment promptly after your accident can help—as your medical records should show that your injuries are consistent with an airbag failure or explosion. Your airbag defect lawyer should also be able to gather other evidence that shows your injuries are airbag-related.

Convincing the Manufacturer to Acknowledge Liability

Once you and your airbag defect lawyer have the evidence you need to file a claim, one of the next major hurdles will be convincing the airbag manufacturer to acknowledge liability. The airbag manufacturer will almost certainly deny liability initially, and you should not let this dissuade you from pressing on. This is a common insurance defense tactic, and it is not the final word on your claim.

Using the evidence that is available, your airbag defect lawyer will work to convince the manufacturey that it has two options: (i) accept liability; or, (ii) lose your case in court. Once the  company realizes that accepting liability is its best option, this will put your case on the path toward settlement.

Calculating the Financial Costs (Present and Future) of Your Injuries

Of course, a settlement offer is never guaranteed, and proving liability is just half of the battle. In addition to proving liability, you and your airbag defect lawyer will also need to prove how much you are entitled to recover.

This starts with calculating the financial costs of your injuries. When you have a claim for an airbag defect, you are entitled to just compensation for all of your present and future losses. With regard to financial costs, this includes your medical expenses, other out-of-pocket costs, loss of income and benefits, and loss of future earning capacity.

Determining Just Compensation for Your Pain and Suffering, Emotional Trauma, and Other Non-Financial Losses

Victims of airbag defects are also entitled to just compensation for non-financial losses including pain and suffering, emotional trauma, scarring and disfigurement, and loss of enjoyment of life. Since these aren’t financial costs, calculating just compensation presents some additional challenges. But, by working closely with your airbag defect lawyer, you can make sure that you are seeking the full compensation you deserve, and you can maximize your chances of securing a full financial recovery.

It is important to emphasize that while these may be legal challenges that you encounter when filing a claim for an airbag defect, none of these should prevent you from recovering the financial compensation you deserve. They are challenges—not barriers. An experienced airbag defect lawyer will be able to help you assert your legal rights effectively, accurately calculate your financial and non-financial losses, deal with the insurance companies for you, and take your airbag defect claim to court if necessary.

FAQs: When Can (and Should) You Hire an Airbag Defect Lawyer?

What is a Defective Airbag?

An airbag is considered defective if it is unsafe for its intended use—namely, deploying to protect vehicle occupants during a crash. Airbag defects can result from issues with an airbag’s design or issues that arise during the manufacturing process. In either case, in order to qualify as a defect, the issue must present a risk for injury in the event of a collision.

Unfortunately, defective airbags are extremely common. In fact, millions of vehicles that are currently on U.S. roads have defective airbags. While automotive manufacturers are in the process of replacing these airbags, there are simply too many for manufacturers to replace them efficiently. The process is going to take years, and this means that drivers and passengers are going to continue to face risks on the road.

What are Potential Defects in the Airbag System?

There are several potential defects in automotive airbag systems. Some examples include defective airbag electronics, defective airbag inflators, defective impact sensors and defective on/off sensors. All of these defects can cause airbags to fail during a crash—and this can leave drivers and passengers at risk for serious, or even fatal, injuries. These injuries can result either from an airbag’s failure to deploy or from an airbag exploding rather than inflating properly.

Can You Sue a Car Company for an Airbag Failure?

Yes, you can sue a car company for an airbag failure in many cases. The safety risks with defective airbags are well known, and accident victims and families across the country have successfully pursued claims against car companies with the help of an experienced airbag defect lawyer. With that said, your legal rights depend on your individual circumstances. To find out if you have a claim, you should discuss your legal rights with an experienced airbag defect lawyer promptly. 

Discuss Your Legal Rights with a Lawyer for Free

We help individuals and families file claims for injuries and deaths caused by defective airbags. Airbag injury lawyer, David P. Willis is a Board Certified Personal Injury Trial Lawyer since 1988 and has been representing injured clients against product makers and the automobile manufacturers for 40+ years. To learn more in a free and confidential consultation, give us a call or contact us online today.