T-Boned Accident and Airbag Failures

Learn About Your Rights After a T-Bone Accident from an Experienced Airbag Failure Lawyer

Among all types of vehicle collisions, T-bone accidents are some of the most dangerous. According to data from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), T-bone collisions account for nearly one in four roadway fatalities. While T-bone accidents can be dangerous in any circumstances, they can be especially dangerous when a vehicle’s airbags fail. If you or a loved one has been involved in a T-bone accident in which a vehicle’s airbags failed to deploy, you should speak with an airbag failure lawyer promptly.

Understanding the Risks of T-Bone Accidents

One of the primary reasons why T-bone accidents are so dangerous is the lack of protection available to drivers and passengers in these collisions. In front and rear-impact accidents, the vehicle’s crumple zones absorb much of the force, and the combination of a properly functioning seatbelt and airbag can often help prevent serious or life-threatening injuries.

But, in a T-bone accident, there is no crumple zone to provide protection, and a driver’s or passenger’s seat belt may only be minimally effective. As a result, the vehicle’s airbags are the primary, and perhaps only, line of defense. In these collisions, airbags not only protect drivers and passengers from the impact forces of the collision, but they shield drivers and passengers from shattered glass and other debris as well. Thus, if a vehicle’s airbags fail, the consequences can be devastating.

Understanding the Risks of Airbag Failures

Airbags—and side-impact airbags in particular—are supposed to mitigate the risks of T-bone accidents. If a defective airbag fails to deploy during a T-bone accident, this can lead to several types of serious (and potentially life-threatening) injuries. For example, some of the most serious risks associated with airbag failures during T-bone accidents include:

  • Bone fractures caused by blunt-force trauma from the impact
  • Severe lacerations caused by broken glass, broken metal and other debris
  • Concussions and other traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
  • Neck, back and spinal cord injuries (SCI)
  • Organ damage and other internal injuries

Side-impact airbags should mitigate the risk of all of these injuries in the event of a T-bone accident. But, in order to prevent these injuries, side-impact airbags have to work. If a vehicle’s airbags fail, then proving the failure will be a key step toward recovering just compensation. Proving the failure is one of the first—and most important—ways in which an experienced airbag failure lawyer can help.

T-Bone Accidents and Airbag Failures: A Potentially Deadly Combination

Tragically, in some cases, airbag failures during T-bone accidents can be deadly. T-bone accidents have a high rate of death even when airbags deploy properly. When a vehicle’s airbags fail to deploy, the risk of death can be even greater, with TBI, SCI, organ damage and other severe traumatic injuries all presenting risks for fatality.

Deaths resulting from airbag failures are far more common than they should be. Following airbag deaths, victims’ family members can—and should—hire an airbag failure lawyer to represent them. In these cases, grieving family members are entitled to file claims for wrongful death. Filing a successful claim can be key not only for finding closure, but also for managing the financial and non-financial losses associated with a loved one’s untimely passing.

When Are Airbags Supposed to Deploy in a T-Bone Accident?

By their nature, T-bone accidents almost always involve substantial impact forces. Even when the car colliding head-on with the side of another vehicle slows down before the crash, the impact is usually more than enough to trigger airbag deployment. In a T-bone or side impact collision, proper airbag deployment can be critical for protecting the occupants of the other vehicle from life-altering or life-threatening injuries.

When a T-bone accident triggers airbag deployment, the airbags should deploy almost immediately—in about 10 to 20 milliseconds. Part of the reason why T-bone accidents are so dangerous is that there is so little room (and so little protection) between the front of the “bullet” vehicle that causes the accident and the driver or passenger of the other vehicle also known as the “target” vehicle. As a result, if there is any delay in airbag deployment, by the time the vehicle’s airbags deploy, it may already be too late.

If you or a loved one were seriously injured resulting from a  airbag failure during a T-bone accident, you should  speak with an airbag failure lawyer promptly. Once you hire a lawyer to represent you, your lawyer will conduct a comprehensive investigation focused on determining both the cause of the accident and the cause of your injuries. If your airbags failed during a T-bone accident, you may have claims for your injuries against the other driver and your vehicle’s manufacturer—and filing both of these claims could be necessary to recover the full financial compensation you deserve.  

Analyzing Common Causes of Airbag Failures in T-Bone Accidents

Airbags can fail for a variety of reasons. While airbags are supposed to help protect vehicle occupants during serious accidents, airbag failures are alarmingly common. When you hire an airbag failure lawyer to determine what happened during your accident, your lawyer will examine possible causes such as:

Electrical System Faults

Airbags rely on electrical signals transmitted from the vehicle’s crash sensors to the inflator mechanisms inside of the airbags. Modern vehicles’ electrical systems are incredibly complex, and faults anywhere in the system can potentially prevent airbags from deploying or delay their deployment.

Defective Crash Sensors

Airbag failures can also occur due to defective crash sensors. If a vehicle’s crash sensors have been wired improperly, malfunctioned or left unplugged, they simply won’t work. As a result, the vehicle’s airbags won’t receive the signal to deploy—and this will leave the vehicle’s occupants fully exposed to the extreme dangers of T-bone accidents.

Defective Airbag Inflators

Defective airbag inflators are among the most common causes of airbag-related injuries during T-bone accidents. This is because tens of millions of vehicles sold in the United States are currently subject to recalls due to the risk of their airbag inflators either failing to work or exploding during airbag deployment. This includes vehicles sold by most major automotive manufacturers.

Failure to Replace an Airbag

Once an airbag deploys, it should be replaced. Airbags should never be reused. If an airbag has deployed previously and was reinstalled instead of being replaced with a new (and non-defective) airbag, it won’t deploy even if everything else in the vehicle’s airbag and electrical systems works properly.

Failure to Plug in an Airbag

Airbags also won’t deploy if they aren’t plugged in. Failure to plug in an airbag can occur during the manufacturing process, during vehicle maintenance or repairs, or after replacing a vehicle’s steering wheel or any other component that houses an airbag.

Other Airbag System Failures

Along with these failures, various other types of airbag system failures can lead to delayed deployment or non-deployment during a T-bone accident as well. In addition to looking for evidence of the failures discussed above, an experienced airbag failure lawyer will also look for evidence of failures such as:

  • Improperly turning off airbags due to a passenger’s weight
  • Failing to shut off airbags when a seat’s weight sensor should have triggered the airbags to turn off (i.e., when a child or adult of small stature is sitting in the front passenger seat)
  • Programming errors and other issues that cause a vehicle’s airbags not to deploy during a T-bone collision

Who Is Liable When Airbags Don’t Deploy in a T-Bone Accident?

When a vehicle’s airbags fail to deploy during a T-bone accident, who (or what company) is liable? In most cases, victims will have claims against their vehicles’ manufacturers. Vehicle manufacturers have a duty to ensure that none of the components in their vehicles are defective—even when they buy components (i.e., airbags) from other companies.

Claims involving defective airbags are governed by the law of “strict liability.” Vehicle manufacturers can be held strictly liable for selling defective vehicles, which means that victims can file claims without proof of negligence. In other words, if your airbag failure lawyer can prove that your injuries resulted from an airbag defect, this fact alone may be enough to establish your claim for just compensation.

This makes hiring an experienced airbag failure lawyer extremely important. While lots of lawyers represent car accident victims, far fewer have experience representing victims of airbag defects. Airbag defect claims present unique challenges, and this makes it essential to have a lawyer with relevant experience on your side.

Are Side Curtain Airbags Effective in T-Bone Car Accidents?

Side curtain airbags can be—and should be—effective in T-bone car accidents. While they may not be able to prevent injuries entirely, they should help to minimize the risk of life-altering or life-threatening trauma. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), “[s]ide airbags that protect the head reduce a car driver’s risk of death in driver-side crashes by 37% and an SUV driver’s risk by 52%.”

Of course, in order to be effective, side curtain airbags need to be functioning properly—and, far too often, they aren’t. Any one of the issues discussed above can prevent side curtain airbags from deploying properly in the event of a T-bone collision. With this in mind, if you have any reason to suspect that your airbags failed to deploy properly during a T-bone collision, you should talk to an airbag failure lawyer about conducting an investigation and filing a claim.

In addition to failing to prevent injuries, side curtain airbags can also cause injuries in some cases. For example, if a side curtain airbag explodes instead of deploying properly, this can cause dangerous gasses and shrapnel to fly throughout the vehicle’s cabin. The vehicle’s occupants can suffer severe burns, lacerations and other injuries as a result—and these injuries can also entitle accident victims to just compensation.

Proving Liability for an Airbag Failure During a T-Bone Accident: How a Lawyer Can Help

Proving liability for an airbag failure during a T-bone accident requires evidence that the airbag was defective. Securing this evidence requires a prompt investigation—and this is one of the most important reasons to contact an airbag lawyer as soon as possible after a serious collision. When you hire an experienced airbag failure lawyer to represent you, your lawyer will:

  • Determine If Your Airbags Failed – One of your lawyer’s first priorities will be to determine if your airbags failed. While airbag failures are much more common than they should be, not all airbag-related injuries are indicative of airbag defects—even properly functioning airbags won’t prevent all injuries in all scenarios. Your lawyer will hire an expert to examine your vehicle and determine if a failure is responsible for your injuries.
  • Determine Why Your Airbags Failed – If your airbags failed, your lawyer’s next priority will be to determine why they failed. There are several possibilities, and pinpointing the specific reason for your airbags’ failure will be essential for proving liability.
  • Preserve the Available Evidence of Your Airbags’ Failure – When investigating your accident, your lawyer will work quickly to preserve all available evidence of your airbags’ failure. Preserving the entire vehicle is essential, not just the airbags or the sensors. If the vehicle and the airbags have been crushed or destroyed, then proving an airbag defect or filing a product liabilitty lawsuit will be very difficult. Explain What You Need to Do to Protect Your Legal Rights – Along with working to gather the evidence needed to assert your legal rights, your lawyer will also work with you to ensure that you know what you need to do (and what you need to avoid doing) to protect them. This is critical, as making mistakes while your claim is pending can prevent you from recovering the financial compensation you deserve.  
  • Explain What You Can Do to Document Your Losses – Filing a successful airbag failure claim after a T-bone accident also requires evidence of your losses. This includes both financial losses (i.e., medical bills, prescription costs and lost wages) and non-financial losses (i.e., pain and suffering). Your lawyer will explain what you can do to document your losses as well.
  • Calculate the Value of Your Claim(s) – The amount you are entitled to recover is based on your financial and non-financial losses resulting from the accident. Whether you have an auto insurance claim, a claim against a vehicle manufacturer or both, your lawyer will carefully calculate the value of your claim(s).
  • File Your Claim(s) and Seek Just Compensation on Your Behalf – With evidence of your airbags’ failure and evidence of your injuries and losses, your lawyer will be able to file all available claims and seek just compensation on your behalf. While most successful claims result in out-of-court settlements, going to court is necessary in some cases.

FAQs: Filing an Airbag Injury Claim After a T-Bone Accident

Can You Sue a Car Company for Airbag Failure?

Yes, you can sue a car company for an airbag failure. Simply put, airbags should not fail. As a result, when they do fail, car companies can—and should—be held accountable.

Most, if not all, car companies buy their airbags from third-party suppliers. Two of the biggest suppliers of airbags in modern vehicles are Takata and ARC; and, unfortunately, both of these companies have faced intensive scrutiny (and numerous lawsuits) for selling airbags with defective inflators. But, car companies are liable for all of the components in their vehicles—even when they buy them from other companies. As a result, victims of airbag failures will be able to sue their cars’ manufacturers in most cases.

What is the Average Settlement for Airbags Not Deploying?

It’s difficult to say what the average settlement is for airbag non-deployment, as these settlements are generally confidential. Additionally, the majority of lawsuits related to airbag non-deployment are still pending (or yet to be filed).

But, regardless of the average settlement, the amount you are entitled to recover for airbag-related injuries is based on your losses. The value of your claim could be less than the average, or it could be significantly more. When you hire an experienced airbag failure lawyer to represent you, your lawyer will work closely with you to determine how much you should seek for your current and future losses.

Can I File a Claim if My Airbags Didn’t Deploy?

If your airbags failed to deploy during a T-bone accident, there is a good chance that you have a claim for your injuries.. Most T-bone accidents involve more than enough force to cause a vehicle’s airbags to deploy. You should speak with an airbag failure lawyer as soon as possible; and, once your lawyer investigates, your lawyer will be able to provide a comprehensive assessment of your legal rights.

How Bad Does an Accident Have to Be for Airbags to Deploy?

A car accident doesn’t have to be bad for a vehicle’s airbags to deploy. This is especially true with T-bone accidents, in which drivers and passengers are at high risk for serious injuries even at fairly low speeds. Generally speaking, a vehicle’s airbags should deploy any time the vehicle is involved in a collision with speeds of around 12 to 15 mph, according to the IIHS. However, the IIHS also indicates that a vehicle’s side curtain airbags may need to deploy in a T-bone collision with speeds as low as 8 mph in order to mitigate the risk of serious injuries.  

Hiring an Airbag Failure Lawyer to Represent You

What do you need to know about hiring an airbag failure lawyer to represent you (or your family)? While many people are apprehensive about hiring a lawyer, the process is not nearly as complicated or stressful as many people believe. In fact, hiring a lawyer can (and should) be simple, and it can make recovering after a serious or fatal accident as straightforward as possible. Here is what you can expect when you hire a lawyer at our firm to represent you:

  • We Will Clearly Explain Your Legal Rights and Options – When you contact us, you will have the opportunity to speak with an airbag failure lawyer one-on-one. Your lawyer will clearly explain your legal rights, go over your options and explain the process of filing a claim.
  • We Will Calculate Your Long-Term Losses from the Accident – Your lawyer will also calculate your financial and non-financial losses resulting from the accident. Many accident victims and families face substantial long-term losses, and filing a successful claim can be important for their future financial stability.
  • We Will Help You Make Informed Decisions – We will help you make informed decisions throughout the process. This includes everything from deciding whether to file a claim to deciding when (and if) to accept a settlement.
  • We Will Fight to Hold the Manufacturer Accountable – Whether it is in your best interests to accept a settlement or take your case to court, we will fight to hold the manufacturer fully accountable for your (or your family’s) losses. While many of our clients’ cases settle out of court, we do not hesitate to go to trial when necessary.
  • We Will Represent You at No Out-of-Pocket Cost – Finally, we will represent you at no out-of-pocket cost. Your initial consultation is completely free and without obligation. If you decide to hire an airbag failure lawyer at our firm to handle your claim, you won’t pay anything unless we help you recover just compensation.

In some cases, T-bone accident victims and their families will also have a claim against the other driver involved in the collision. If your family has a claim against the other driver, we can handle this claim as well. These claims typically involve dealing with the driver’s insurance company, and they can present unique challenges when airbag failures are involved.

Discuss Your Legal Rights with an Airbag Failure Lawyer for Free

Do you have questions about filing a claim for an airbag failure? If so, we invite you to get in touch. 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. Call us or send us a message online to schedule a free consultation today.