The NHTSA reports that frontal airbags saved 50,457 lives between 1987 to 2017. Airbags help stop the person in the vehicle from hitting the steering wheel, door, window, or dashboard in a car accident. The airbag also places a barrier between the person and the steering wheel or door to help prevent a crushing injury.

However, airbags that fail to deploy or deploy incorrectly can cause serious injuries. If an airbag fails to deploy because of a defect, the car company, airbag manufacturer, or another party may be liable for damages. A car accident injury lawyer may be able to help you gain compensation from the responsible parties.

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What Causes an Airbag to Fail to Deploy?

Airbags do not deploy in all situations. In some cases, an airbag deploying could cause more harm. However, there are some situations in which an airbag fails to deploy because it is defective.

Frontal and side airbags deploy when they receive a signal from an impact sensor. The signal causes the internal inflator in the airbag to begin the chemical reaction that causes the airbag to inflate.

The inflation of an airbag is exceptionally rapid. Inflation takes less than 1/20th of a second from start to finish for frontal airbags.

Side airbags inflate even faster. The inflation is violent and can cause injury if someone does not have a seatbelt on or is sitting too close to the airbag.

Situations in which an airbag typically does NOT deploy:

  • The vehicle was not traveling fast enough to reach airbag deployment speed.
  • The vehicle hit a bump or pothole;
  • The nature of the collision did not trigger the airbag sensor, such as in rear or angle impacts.
  • The vehicle’s owner or another person in the vehicle turned the airbag off.

However, there could be problems with the airbag that causes it not to deflate. These problems could be defects or errors that cause the mechanical components of the airbag to fail.

Common reasons why an airbag may not deploy (when it should have):

  • The airbag was defective in its design. Something about the airbag is inherently defective or dangerous.
  • The airbag sensors fail to signal the airbag to inflate because they are faulty or defective.
  • The electrical parts of the airbag are defective or faulty, or the electrical system failed or was not installed correctly.
  • The wiring from the sensor to the airbag failed because it was routed in a way that made it more likely to be damaged or severed.
  • The computer controls failed. The sensors correctly signaled an impact, but the computer controls failed to recognize the signal.

Any number of problems could result in a deployment failure. If the car company knew or should have known about the defect or problem, it could be held liable in a product liability lawsuit.

Holding the Car Company or Other Parties Liable for Defective Airbags

A car company, manufacturer, or another party may be liable for damages caused by defective airbags. A company may be liable for airbag injuries due to:

  • A defect in the design that made the airbag inherently dangerous or prone to failure.
  • Failing to adequately test the airbag and all components for safety and reliability.
  • Errors made during manufacturing or changing the specifications during manufacturing.
  • Using inferior or low-quality materials to construct the airbag or its components.
  • Failing to warn consumers of risks or provide adequate instructions for safe use of airbags.
  • Incorrect installation of any part of the airbag system, including improper quality control measures.
  • Defective design of a vehicle’s other components that make it impossible for an airbag to deploy.
  • Defects in the software used to control the airbag or other components.
  • Failure to provide sufficient sensors to ensure the airbag inflates.
  • Improper calibration of the airbag firing system.

The party responsible for your injuries depends on the type of defect or error that caused the airbag not to deploy. A personal injury lawyer can investigate the matter to determine what caused the airbag not to deploy and who is responsible for your damages and injuries.

Injuries and Damages From Airbag Defects and Malfunctions

If an airbag deploys incorrectly or fails to deploy, you could be seriously injured. Airbag injuries may include, but are not limited to:

  • Facial injuries, including permanent scarring and loss of eyesight
  • Internal injuries, including bleeding and injury to internal organs
  • Broken bones and fractures
  • Lacerations and puncture wounds
  • Head injuries, including concussions and traumatic brain injuries

Depending on the severity of your injuries, you could sustain permanent impairments or disabilities.

The financial damages caused by airbag injuries and defective airbags can be tremendous. In addition to the loss of income and medical bills, you may require personal care. Additionally, pain and suffering may be overwhelming and debilitating.

Negligence, strict liability, and breach of warranty are just some of the causes of action used in airbag injury lawsuits.

The time to file a lawsuit for airbag defects is limited. Contacting an attorney as soon as possible helps protect your legal rights and increases your chance of a fair settlement for your injury claim.

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