5 Oct

Air Bag Malfunctioned During Your Car Crash? You May Be Eligible For Compensation.

Car Accidents, Product Recalls

air bag malfunction

Air bags are protective, life-saving safety features designed to cushion drivers and passengers and keep them in their seats in the event of a car crash. Drivers don’t often consciously think about their air bags – they trust that the devices will work when they need them to – but the reality is that many drivers have been injured due to an air bag malfunction. If your air bag did not deploy properly or did not deploy at all in a car accident, and left you or someone you loved seriously injured, you may be able to receive maximum monetary compensation!

The Florida Law Group’s auto product liability lawyers can listen to your story, investigate the incident, and fight to protect your legal rights. We will relentlessly pursue the full settlement you deserve! To date, we have recovered over $1 billion dollars for accident victims. Call us today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about your legal options.

How air bags work

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that between 1987 to 2017, frontal air bags have saved the lives of 50,457 people. They also estimate that the combination of a seatbelt and air bag reduces the risk of death by 61 percent. However, even though air bags are a safety feature, they can cause injuries and even death – either because of the force of deployment or because of a malfunction. In order to understand how a safety feature can also be dangerous, it’s important to understand how air bags work.

Air bags will inflate when a car’s sensors detect a collision between the car and another object. The sensors trigger an inflator that causes a chemical reaction, filling the bags with nitrogen gas and causing them to emerge from the covers of the steering wheel, dashboard, side, and etc. The air bags move outward, preventing the driver or passenger from striking the steering wheel, dashboard, side, and etc. This entire process happens extremely quickly. Because air bags move toward drivers/passengers at between 150 and 250 miles per hour, they must inflate and begin to deflate (in order to prevent suffocation) in under 50 milliseconds, which is the length of time it would take for a person to hit the steering wheel in a crash. Most accident victims are unaware that their air bag has deployed until after the fact.

Types of air bag malfunctions & their causes

Because air bags inflate so quickly and so powerfully, and because of their intended function, if they deploy too late, accidentally, or not at all, they can cause severe injuries to drivers and passengers in the car. There are many different ways that an air bag could malfunction; while the following instances are not necessarily common, they can be deadly.

Air bag didn’t go off at all during the crash, or went off late

Air bags are created to deploy when the car strikes another object with a certain degree of force. If they don’t, or go off late (indicated by marks on the wheel or dashboard or by a bent steering wheel), it means that some step or component of the process described above is faulty, defective, broken. It could be because the sensors aren’t working or there are not enough of them; it could be because the wiring that sends signals for the chemical reaction to occur is severed or wasn’t placed correctly; it could be because the air bag itself was damaged or not responding.

Air bag deployed for a minor impact or randomly

In some scary cases, air bags have been known to deploy spontaneously or in situations where they should not have, such as when the car hit a pothole or curb. When this happens, because the car is traveling at low speed or stopped, and the driver or passengers are not moving towards the steering wheel/dashboard vehicle but are stationary, air bags can lead to incredible damage. They can cause the driver to lose control of the vehicle, resulting in a serious or fatal accident with other vehicles, or even injure or kill the driver or passenger on impact, which has been recorded. This is also likely due to faulty sensors, wiring, or air bag modules.

Air bag exploded without impact

In even more frightening cases, the problem might not be with when or how the airbag deploys at all, but with the airbag exploding. The most famous and widespread instance of this is the Takata air bag recall, where a chemical issue caused the air bag’s inflators to explode. Shrapnel from the explosion caused many injuries and deaths; in 2015, 70 million vehicles were recalled, 15 confirmed deaths in the United States were reported, and over 250 injuries were reported. Most recently, Volvo is recalling 460,769 cars worldwide due to air bags with faulty inflators that project shrapnel.

Injuries that can result from airbags not deploying correctly

Depending on the circumstances of the deployment, air bag malfunctions can cause a variety of injuries, including but not limited to:

  • Bruises (tissue damage)
  • Burns
  • Sprains & broken bones
  • Scarring & other facial injuries
  • Temporary or permanent blindness (if your face was struck with too much force or unprotected)
  • Whiplash
  • Herniated discs
  • Spinal cord damage
  • Chest & heart injuries
  • Fractured ribs & internal bleeding
  • Concussions
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • and more.

The consequences of air bags that did not properly protect the driver/passengers are not only devastating physically, but also financially. The costs of ambulatory care, surgeries, hospitalizations, physical therapy, imaging tests, medications, copays, and deductibles can add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars easily – injured air bag malfunction victims may not be able to earn wages at work while they take time off to recover, or they may be permanently disabled and never be able to work again. Drivers trust air bags to keep them safe, and they should not have to pay for the costs of their injuries when the incident was out of their control.

Who is responsible?

Auto manufacturers, air bag manufacturers, and repair technicians have a legal responsibility to ensure that air bags are safe and operational before the car is sold to the consumer. Unfortunately, there are many times where the law is not obeyed, and these parties cut corners or don’t perform enough safety testing in order to save money. There are also times when a step in production was unknowingly missed, or there was a design or manufacturing defect that they had no way of knowing about – but they can still be held accountable for injuries caused by their product.

In Florida, manufacturers can be sued for their faulty products under the “strict liability” rule. This means that if a product is defective, and causes your injury, the manufacturer is liable for any damages – period. In the case of an air bag malfunction, all that you & your attorney would need to do is prove that the air bag was defective when it left the manufacturer, prove that you did not tamper with the air bag, prove that the defect caused your injury, and prove that the injury resulted in damages. Even if the manufacturer did not intentionally cause the air bag malfunction, they are still liable for it!

If the responsible party was not the manufacturer, but the repair technician who did not install the replacement air bag correctly after an initial deployment, or the car dealer who knew there was a possibility that that the air bag was defective and failed to warn you, you can still sue for negligence – you & your lawyer would need to prove that the responsible party owed you a duty of care, failed to uphold that duty, and their failure led to your injury.

Next steps to take

In some cases, multiple parties may be liable, or proving liability at all may be difficult. Manufacturers have large legal defenses in place, and insurance companies will do everything in their power to avoid paying you the compensation you deserve. An experienced air bag malfunction attorney can advocate for you to get justice! If you’ve been injured due to a defective air bag, call The Florida Law Group. We’re ranked in the top 1% of law firms nationwide, and you never pay us unless we recover a settlement for you. Schedule a free consultation today!