Airbag Non-Deployment Injury Lawyer
After you or a loved one was seriously injured in a car collision and an airbag malfunctioned, you may wonder, “If an airbag failed to deploy, can I sue?” The answer is a resounding yes. You do have the legal right to seek payments for your losses when an airbag failed to deploy and protect you in an accident. That involves establishing in the legal arena the liability of airbag manufacturers and others for injuries due to airbag non-deployment.
Airbags are Designed to Inflate When Needed
Airbags should deploy as designed when a vehicle is involved in a collision. In fact, the law recognizes that the automakers know that their vehicles will be involved in crashes and requires them to build vehicles that are crashworthy for all types of reasonably foreseeable crashes, including frontal impacts, side impacts, frontal offset, and narrow offset frontal impacts.
The automakers have a legal duty to design vehicles to perform as safely as economically and technologically feasible in these crash scenarios. If a vehicle’s supplemental restraint systems (seatbelts & airbags) do not work as designed, then they are defective. Bottomline, if the severity of an impact required the airbag to deploy along with the seatbelt pretensioner and the airbag failed to deploy, then the airbag is defective.
Lack of a Working Airbag in a Frontal Crash
In a frontal impact, the airbag when used with seatbelt pretensioner is designed to minimize the occupant’s impact and spread out the load and reduce the loading on the narrow safety belt and prevent the body and head from accelerating and loading. When an airbag fails to deploy in a frontal impact, an internal brain injury is very likely to occur due to the lack of airbag deployment. The acceleration values of the head and brain, as it flexes forward during a frontal crash, can greatly enhance the minimal head injuries into permanent traumatic brain injuries. The lack of an energy absorbing structure or device, notably a working airbag, will increase the severity of the inertial head kinematics and brain damage. Non-working airbags can lead to death as well.
Deployment – the sudden inflation of an airbag – is triggered by sensors that detect crash elements such as a vehicle’s rapid deceleration when it is struck from the front or side or front-offset. The inflated airbag then should provide a cushioning effect for vehicle occupants, reducing the force of the impact and preventing serious injuries.
Automotive and airbag manufacturers have a legal duty to provide safe, working products to consumers. When an airbag fails to deploy, and that results in personal injury, several legal strategies can be used to hold manufacturers legally liable and compel them to pay victims for such costs as their medical bills, disfigurement injuries, lost wages and pain and suffering. In some airbag non-deployment cases, the defendant airbag maker could be held for punitive damages as well.
How can I hold someone liable for my airbag injuries?
Under product liability laws, manufacturers, distributors, and sellers can be held liable or responsible for injuries caused by defective products, such as airbags that fail to deploy. With airbags, such defects can be design-related, manufacturing-related or the result of inadequate instructions and warnings for consumers.
Among other things, airbag manufacturers can be held liable for negligence. That means they have failed to exercise reasonable care in the design, production, and testing of airbags. In addition, if a manufacturer provided a warranty that the airbag would work as intended and it failed to do so, the manufacturer can be held liable for what is known as breach of warranty.
A legal fight against airbag manufacturers also can be widened, especially in some jurisdictions whose laws apply strict liability. That means manufacturers can be held liable for any defects in their product, regardless of negligence or lack of negligence. If they made the product, then they are responsible for it working as designed.
Why didn’t my airbag go off?
When you or a loved one suffers due to a defective, non-deploying airbag, you may wonder, “Why did my airbag fail to go off?” There are many possible factors in airbag non-deployment, including airbag sensor location or the Delta V (speed and energy) at the time of the impact.
Sensors are vital for airbags to deploy or inflate. In a car crash, a vehicle’s sensors should detect the impact and immediately deploy airbags to provide cushioning for passengers from the force of the crash and to prevent them from hitting objects in the vehicle’s interior.
However, sensors may not have been provided in enough locations in the vehicle to detect collisions from all angles. A limited location of sensors may render them unable to perceive the direction or force of an impact. Frontal sensors, side-impact sensors, rollover sensors and occupant sensors all are needed. (Locations of airbags themselves also can be varied, as with side-impact airbags and curtain airbags, which are deployed from above.
When sensor placement is not extensive, a sensor located chiefly to detect frontal or rear-end collisions may not provide airbag deployment after a severe side impact, or T-bone crash. An impact sensor failure also can be due to defects in the sensor apparatus. Airbag sensor manufacturers face a challenge in providing sensors which are sensitive enough to detect and respond to various collision scenarios while minimizing the risk of false deployments. Also critical is to avoid non-deployment of an airbag in a severe collision.
Beyond airbag crash sensor failure, airbag non-deployment may be the result of design flaws, manufacturing defects or other software malfunctions. All of these airbag non-deployment causes can be used to advance an airbag defect lawsuit or product liability lawsuit targeting manufacturers of defective airbags.
How hard is it to prove liability in my airbag failed to inflate?
The prospect of launching a lawsuit against a manufacturer may prompt you to ask, “How hard is it to prove liability in an airbag lawsuit?” We can answer. To be sure, there are challenges in establishing liability after an airbag fails to deploy in an accident. One challenge may involve data retrieval. Obtaining and analyzing data from a vehicle’s so-called black box, or Event Data Recorder (EDR), can be essential to establish liability, but such data isn’t always readily accessible. While airbag accident investigations can go beyond data retrieval, an EDR certainly can help.
Another challenge may involve the complex technology of airbag systems, which are technologically advanced to the point that non-experts may be unable to understand the intricacies of an airbag’s design and operation. This means expert witnesses may be needed to testify for the plaintiff. However, expert witnesses also can be used to testify on behalf of the defendant, or manufacturer.
Either way, such experts may be able to explain the technical aspects of an airbag’s non-deployment. But such experts are normally paid a fee for their consultation and testimony, so using them can contribute to the complexity and costs of a legal battle. Another challenge in an airbag liability lawsuit can arise when multiple parties are involved in a defect, which means liability will be spread among them. A vehicle manufacturer, an airbag manufacturer and even third-party suppliers of parts all may be liable in some ways, adding to the complexity and cost of an airbag non-deployment lawsuit.
What are airbag manufacturers’ defenses to airbag non-deployment injury lawsuits?
Airbag manufacturers may employ various defenses, including the speed of the bullet vehicle was not sufficient to trigger the sensor to activate. Manufacturers may assert that injuries in an airbag non-deployment accident were the result the injured being out of position, not correctly wearing a seatbelt, having the seat too close to the dash or that the sensor had been previously damaged before this accident. Proving such contributory negligence could lead to shared or comparative liability, thus reducing a manufacturer’s exposure in a claim.
On the other hand, airbags are subject to strict quality control standards in their manufacture to make sure they are effective and reliable and not prone to non-deployment or inadvertent deployment. (Non-deployment happens when an airbag fails to deploy in a collision or deploys too late, while inadvertent deployment occurs when an airbag deploys unexpectedly and needlessly, causing injuries unrelated to a collision.)
Regulatory groups and agencies such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) establish rules and guidelines for airbag design, performance and deployment. Manufacturers must comply with those standards to produce airbags that meet safety expectations. An injured plaintiff or complainant in an airbag lawsuit may be able to prove that an airbag was defective in design or manufacturing, or came without adequate warnings, which led to its non-deployment in an accident.
Plaintiffs also must show that their injuries were the result of airbag non-deployment and provide evidence of the costs and expenses they suffered due to such injuries.
What is an example of an airbag lawsuit case?
You may want to know about an example of an airbag lawsuit. Did the manufacturer prevail in court, or did injured persons gain monetary reward or financial compensation for their losses due to airbag defects? One of the biggest such cases involved Takata, a Japan-based manufacturer of airbags which were found to be defective and cause 1000’s of injuries, both from non-deployment injuries and for injuries from the violent explosions due to a defective propellant used.
As a result of losing its legal battle, in 2017 Takata was fined $1 billion by the United States Department of Justice for concealing information about the defects of its airbags and misleading auto manufacturers. Takata also agreed to pay a settlement of $850 million to such automakers and $125 million to the victims of Takata airbag defects. Such victims included more than 400 persons who were injured and at least 26 who were killed. Takata also recalled at least 67 million airbags.
Get an Experienced Airbag Injury Lawyer on Your Case
Americans who have suffered airbag non-deployment injuries have a legal right to claim payments for their losses. That means getting a skilled, knowledgeable, and experienced airbag lawsuit attorney to fight for them in the legal arena.
Airbag losses can include hospital and medical expenses, lost wages, or income due to an inability to work, and the pain and suffering which can follow a traumatic accident injury.
Financial compensation for such losses is among the potential outcomes of a successful lawsuit against an airbag manufacturer. Other outcomes can include product recalls, as with the defective airbags. In addition, a successful airbag defect lawsuit can lead to improved safety standards by authorities and heightened safety measures taken by manufacturers to further protect innocent Americans.
In this way, it is not only your legal right to claim compensation but also your duty as a citizen to help right the wrongs of manufacturer negligence which caused airbag non-deployment injuries.