A properly working airbag can help reduce the severity of injuries following a car crash. They can even save lives. Yet, when these airbags are not working properly, they fail to protect the individuals inside the car and can cause debilitating injuries and death.
If a defective airbag has harmed you, you may have legal options you can pursue to help secure the money you deserve for the injuries and losses you suffered. More importantly, you will not have to determine these legal options alone. This blog post will walk you through everything you need to know about these legal claims, including how to file a defective airbag lawsuit and how a product liability lawyer can assist you.
What Does It Mean to Have a Defective Airbag?
A defective airbag usually refers to an airbag that contains a manufacturing or design defect or some other deficiency that threatens the safety functions of the airbag and causes harm to others.
Common airbag defects usually include:
- Failure to deploy in a car crash
- Late airbag deployment in a motor vehicle accident
- Unexpected deployment
- Deployment with too much force
- Low-speed airbag deployment during an accident
- Airbags that do not inflate fully, failing to protect the driver or passengers in the car
Take, for instance, the Takata airbag recalls. Approximately 67 million vehicles with the Takata airbag were recalled because of accidents resulting from these airbags exploding when exposed to high heat and humidity.
Investigations have found that these airbags use ammonium-nitrate-based propellant without a chemical drying agent, meaning that when exposed to high temperatures and environmental moisture, they can improperly inflate, leading to the airbag mechanism’s shattering. As a result, the shrapnel created during the explosion can lead to debilitating or fatal injuries to passengers and drivers.
Injuries Resulting From a Defective Airbag
An airbag and seatbelt protect your body and head from striking the inside of a motor vehicle. However, depending on the circumstances of the accident, the driver’s head and body may still move forward because of the collision’s force. Consequently, when the airbag explodes or fails to deploy, it can lead to severe injuries.
While this trauma varies depending on the accident, some common injuries that result from malfunctioning airbags include:
- Brain injuries
- Neck injuries
- Broken bones
- Facial injuries, including eye problems
- Spinal cord injuries
- Disfigurement and scarring
- Larynx damage
- Loss of hearing
- Nerve damage
Many of these common injuries also require lifelong medical care, resulting in astronomical medical bills. That is why if you or a loved one suffered any injuries because of a defective airbag, it is a good idea to reach out to an experienced product liability attorney as soon as possible.
Your lawyer can review the facts of your case, determine the legal options you can pursue, and help you go after the money you need to ensure you get the medical treatment you require now and in the future.
Filing a Lawsuit for a Defective Airbag Injury
If you suffered harm because of a defective airbag, you might be able to bring a lawsuit against one or more of the defendants. These parties can include the airbag manufacturer, the automaker, the dealership that sold the motor vehicle, the repair facilities that serviced the car, and other entities or individuals that contributed to your injuries.
However, before recovering any financial damages for your injuries following this accident, you must prove that the airbag was somehow defective.
Three typical types of defects can give rise to legal action:
A Manufacturing Defect
A manufacturing defect refers to a product designed properly but an assembly error introduced a dangerous flaw that made the product depart from its intended design.
A Design Defect
A design defect usually means a problem in how the company engineered the product, making it unreasonably dangerous for consumers. Consequently, these defects will affect the entire product line instead of just one item.
A Marketing Defect
Marketing defects usually refer to issues with the product’s instructions, advertising, or warnings. If the manufacturer fails to provide explicit instructions or warning labels to avoid injury or fails to warn of latent product dangers, they can be responsible for resulting injuries.
The Financial Damages You Can Pursue in a Defective Airbag Injury Lawsuit
If you can bring a lawsuit following a defective airbag car crash, there are different types of compensation you can seek:
These damages represent the easily quantifiable losses caused by your injuries, including:
- Medical expenses resulting from doctor visits, hospitalization, surgeries, medications, emergency services, ambulance rides, and other medical treatments
- Lost wages
- Reduced earning capacity
- Personal property damages
- Replacement domestic services
- Rehabilitative therapy, including physical and occupational therapy
- Other costs
These damages represent payment for the subjective losses the accident caused.
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of consortium
- Limb loss
- Inconvenience resulting from the injuries
Yet, to determine which of these damages you can seek following your defective airbag accident, you should reach out to an experienced product liability attorney. These lawyers can not only analyze your case and figure out which of these damages may apply but help you fight for the maximum financial recovery to which you are entitled.
Can You File a Lawsuit Even if Your Airbag Was Not Recalled?
Just because your defective airbag was not recalled, it does not mean you cannot recover compensation for the injuries and losses you suffered because of it. While having an airbag named on the recall list can help your case by showing that the airbag was defective and these defects led to your harm, it is not required to file a lawsuit.
Consequently, if you believe that a defective airbag was the cause of your trauma or contributed to your injuries, you should contact an experienced product liability attorney as soon as possible. These lawyers can investigate the details of your accident, work with product experts to determine whether you had a defective airbag, and help you go after the compensation you need.
The Statute of Limitations for Filing an Injury Claim Following a Defective Airbag Accident
Another issue that can play an important role in determining the success of a defective airbag lawsuit is the time limitations for filing claims.
Every state has a statute of limitations, which is a rule that dictates the maximum amount of time a person has to file a legal claim following an alleged offense. As a result, following a defective airbag accident, most states only allow victims a few years to file their lawsuit. If they fail to do so, the court will likely bar them from pursuing an action.
However, this allotted period can change if exceptions apply to the rule. For these reasons, it is usually not a good idea to wait too long to pursue legal action. Instead, you should reach out to an experienced product liability attorney as soon as possible. These lawyers can figure out precisely how much time you have to file your legal claim and ensure all necessary documents and paperwork are prepared and filed with the appropriate court before time expires.
Legal Theories to Pursue a Product Liability Suit Following a Defective Airbag Car Accident
If you suffered harm from a defective product, such as an airbag, you can use one of three legal theories to show another party’s liability for your harm and injuries.
A Negligence Claim
This legal theory requires the victim of a product liability accident to show that the carelessness in the product’s manufacturing or design led to their injuries. However, to prove this negligence, the victim must first show that the wrongful party had a duty to sell a safe product, such as an airbag, the wrongful party breached this duty, and that the defective product caused the victim’s injuries and financial damages.
While there are many ways that negligence can occur in the production of an airbag, some of the more common examples include:
- Failing to inspect or test the airbags properly
- Failing to maintain the machines responsible for creating the various parts of the airbag
- Failing to review product plans
A Strict Liability Claim
Typically, most product liability claims come under the theory of strict liability, which only requires the victim to prove that a defect in a product existed and that an injury resulted from the product’s use. If this flaw exists, the manufacturer and others in the distribution chain can be strictly liable for any resulting injuries and losses, despite if they exercised care and caution when preparing or manufacturing the product.
A Breach of Warranty Claim
There are two warranties that the buyer of a product will generally rely on:
- An Express Warranty: This refers to a representation of a product’s safety made by the retailer or manufacturer.
- An Implied Warranty: This warranty is an implied promise by the manufacturer or other parties that the product will not cause harm if used as intended.
Another consideration under a breach of warranty claim is that this cause of action will cover any individual the manufacturer would reasonably expect to use the consumer good.
Unfortunately, figuring out which of these theories applies to your defective airbag case will depend on the specific circumstances of the accident and can be a complex undertaking. That is why turning to an experienced product liability attorney soon after the accident is helpful. These lawyers can review the facts of what happened, determine which theory applies to your case, and help you go after the money you need.
How Can an Experienced Product Liability Attorney Help You Following a Defective Airbag Accident?
If a defective airbag caused you harm, you should not have to deal with the financial repercussions and consequences. Instead, you may seek compensation for your harm and losses.
Fortunately, with an experienced product liability attorney fighting for your rights, you will not have to take on this difficult legal battle on your own. Instead, your lawyer can handle the legal proceedings while you focus on what matters most, getting better.
Once you retain a lawyer, they can:
- Promptly go over the details of your case, figure out if you have a viable claim, and determine the legal steps you should take next.
- Investigate and analyze the accident details and secure the evidence necessary to show what happened, who was at fault, and the extent of your damages.
- Work hard to prepare the strongest legal case on your behalf and go after the fair settlement you deserve.
- Head to court if the other side is unwilling to get you the money you need, and fight relentlessly for maximum compensation.