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June 16, 2015

Does Your Vehicle Have Defective Airbags?

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Motor vehicles are constructed by putting together thousands of different parts, many of which play an important role in the safe operation of the vehicle. If one or more of these parts fail, the vehicle may not drive properly and may often cause the driver to lose control of the car. When a driver loses control, chances are high that they will collide with other vehicles or objects or may rollover. Such accidents can cause devastating injuries to any and all motorists involved. In such cases, the manufacturers responsible for selling the vehicle or the specific part should be held responsible because they negligently sold a defective and dangerous product.

When most people think of dangerous vehicle malfunctions, they generally think of brake failure, tire blowouts, and other events that can obviously lead to accidents and injuries. However, one particular part that can cause injury that you may never consider is your airbag. Airbags are installed in vehicles with the intention of keeping us safe in the event of a collision. They are meant to keep drivers in the front seat from hitting their heads against the dashboard or steering wheel or even from going through the windshield. Additionally, side airbags are used to prevent motorists from falling out of the car or hitting the ground during rollover accidents. Airbags do work to save lives, as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports1 that airbags saved thousands of motorists from fatal injuries from 1987 to recent years. Unfortunately, in recent years, airbags have also caused unnecessary and severe injuries, as well.

How airbags can injure you

When a collision occurs, an inflater is triggered to suddenly fill up the airbag balloon, which deploys the airbag into the cabin of the vehicle at a high velocity. This velocity is necessary to ensure the motorist has adequate protection in a very short period of time following a collision. Due to the sheer speed and force of an airbag, many motorists suffer contusions, lacerations, or even burns or their arms and faces. These injuries are not due to any defect, however, but are simply an assumed part of having an airbag. This type of airbag injury is generally minor and heals relatively quickly.

When an airbag malfunctions, it has the possibility to cause injuries that may result in permanent disability or even death. For example, one defect caused airbags to suddenly inflate when no collision had occurred and while a driver was actively operating a vehicle. This not only shocked the driver, but also blocked their view of the road and forced their hands off of the wheel. As you can imagine, this led to numerous severe collisions and injuries.

Another airbag malfunction that recently came to the public’s attention was that a defective inflater would cause the airbag to inflate with such force that it could explode. When the bag exploded, shards of metal from the inner parts of the airbag were sent at high speeds towards drivers and passengers. These metal pieces caused devastating facial injuries, organ damage, and the death of at least six motorists.2 This particular airbag issue still exists in over 4 million cars on the road in the United States alone. Everyone should check to see if their vehicle has been recalled3 due to the potentially dangerous airbags and should follow all necessary instructions. 

What if you have been injured by your defective airbag already?

If you have suffered injury because your airbag exploded or due to any other type of airbag defect, you should discuss your case with an experienced auto accident attorney as soon as possible. Personal injury cases arising from defective airbags can be complicated for many reasons. First, many different individuals who also suffered injuries from the same defect may have already filed legal claims against the manufacturer and the court may have combined all of the cases into a class action lawsuit. You always need an attorney who understands how to handle these types of claims and can represent you if you have to join a class action.

Additionally, legal claims against large companies can be challenging due to the resources and funding the company has to defend against the claim. You always want to seek out an attorney who has the resources needed to take on a corporation in court and help you get the compensation you deserve for your defective airbag injuries. For a free consultation, contact The Levin Firm today.

References:

1http://www-nrd.nhtsa.dot.gov/pdf/esv/esv18/cd/files/18esv-000500.pdf
2http://www.cbc.ca/news/business/takata-airbag-exec-expresses-regret-over-deaths-and-injuries-1.3097029
3http://www.nhtsa.gov/Vehicle+Safety/Recalls+&+Defects

 

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