Defective Airbag Lawyer
Airbags are meant to save lives, but defective airbags can cause severe injuries and death. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), more than 1 million cars in the United States were recalled for faulty airbag systems between 2012-2017.
At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our personal injury attorneys are legal advocates for injured drivers and passengers harmed by defective airbags. Our legal team fights aggressively on behalf of our clients to ensure they receive maximum compensation for their damages while seeking Justice against those who caused them harm.
Contact a vehicle defect attorney at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form today to schedule a free consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with your defective airbag attorneys remains private through an attorney-client relationship.
The Problem With Airbags
When used in conjunction with seatbelts, airbags greatly reduce the risk of fatality resulting from auto accidents.
For example, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data suggests that those involved in an accident are 61% less likely to sustain fatal injuries when airbags and seatbelts are used together than when neither is present or used.
Without a doubt, properly working airbags save lives and reduce the severity of airbag injuries sustained in car crashes. Still, defective airbags can cause accidents, fail to protect the occupants inside of a vehicle, or cause severe injuries themselves when failing to deploy or deploying improperly.
Airbags Failing to Deploy in Auto Crashes
Airbags are designed to deploy in any collision that occurs at speeds exceeding 15 MPH, and vehicles are equipped with crash sensors that determine when such a collision occurs, sending a signal to the airbags and causing them to inflate within a twentieth of a second.
Defective crash sensors occasionally contribute to the failure of airbags to deploy and may result in severe trauma to the head if the victim's head or face collides with the steering wheel, dashboard or windshield during the accident.
Serious injuries often change the victim's quality of life for a long time, and medical treatment and recovery can place a financial burden on the victim and their family.
Improper Deployment of Airbags Resulting in Injuries
Defective airbags can easily cause harm when deployed at the wrong time or when deployed improperly.
Examples of improper airbag deployment include the following:
- The airbag deploys when no accident has occurred, injuring vehicle occupants or causing an accident
- The airbag inflator ruptures (common Takata airbag recall problems)
- "Over deployment" is when the airbag inflates too much or too quickly
- Low-speed airbag deployment during a crash
- A lack of an effective airbag system
- Airbags do not inflate fully, failing to protect the passenger properly
- Improper tethering or position can cause the airbag to strike the occupant at an unsafe angle or position, causing severe injury or increasing the severity of injuries sustained in an accident.
It is the responsibility of auto manufacturers to recall and replace parts that are known to be defective. If an automaker fails to do so, it is liable for any injury or damage caused by the defective equipment.
Auto manufacturers have come under scrutiny in recent years because they have been slow to recall defective equipment. The decisions not to issue such recalls are often related to the cost of doing so and whether it would be less costly to pay settlements than to recall all defective parts.
We, the consumers, deserve better than to have our safety treated as a "risk," and auto companies need to be held accountable when their products cause accidents and other harm.
Defect-Related Airbag Non-Deployment
A defective passenger presence sensing device or malfunctioning crash detection system can cause catastrophic results when a passenger is involved in a high-speed collision, and the airbag fails to deploy.
Many cars are manufactured with a presence sensing device that identifies when a passenger sits in the front seat. Without the sensing device, the car is unaware that a passenger is seated in the front row.
If the seatbelt crash detection system is turned off on the passenger side, the airbag will never deploy, leading to catastrophic results.
Airbag Deployment With Defective Parts Could Be Catastrophic
When an airbag fails to deploy because of a defective part or construction, the driver will often be thrown into the steering wheel or dashboard and suffer severe facial fractures, head trauma, and lacerations.
Even when a passenger is belted incorrectly, a loose object can become a projectile if it strikes an occupant during a high-speed accident and causes serious injury.
Vehicle airbags are designed to protect you in a collision by inflating with great force, but defective parts or incomplete construction can cause them to fail or do so improperly.
Airbag defects are dangerous because the parts don't deploy when they should, deploy too forcefully, deploy inappropriately, or don't inflate at all.
An airbag that fails to deploy in a crash can send your vehicle's occupant crashing into the interior, increasing the risk of injury. Airbags may also fail to inflate fully, and they can injure people who aren't in when a car crashes (such as pedestrians).
Airbags inflate in less than half a second, but that still may not be fast enough to allow you to react and protect yourself. A defective airbag system can fail to deploy or even explode while inflating.
Airbags themselves may also be too damaged to deploy properly after the front-end of your vehicle has been hit.
When an airbag isn't the only source of serious injury in a crash, you may be able to seek compensation for your medical bills and other costs. That can include wage loss, pain, and suffering, or damage to your vehicle.
A defective airbag can hurt or kill people far from the point of impact. In addition, without an entire passenger restraint system, an unbelted occupant is more likely to leave the car and become injured by another object or hit another person involved in the crash.
Improper inflation will not only injure vehicle occupants but can also cause collateral damage such as ruptured fuel lines and possible ignition of the airbag. A defective airbag may also leave shards of metal in the car, causing additional serious injuries to those involved.
The risk is even greater if passengers become trapped by deploying airbags and aren't properly protected by their seat belts.
A Manufacturer's Failure to Recall Involving Defective Airbag Systems
Historically, many airbag manufacturers and automakers have failed to issue product recalls on their devices when there is a known problem with the airbags. In recent years, Takata airbags manufacturers have been blamed for more than 100 serious injuries and 14 deaths because of their inability to comply with product recalls.
Manufacturers need to protect the public against defective airbags. However, the stakes are too high if an airbag fails or injures someone not involved in the collision.
While automakers may believe it will be too expensive to recall devices already in the market, they should consider the risk of not doing so.
According to statistics, more than 42 million cars, trucks, and SUVs have been involved in airbag recalls. Dealerships have replaced nearly 57 million inflators on both the driver and passenger sides under voluntary and mandatory recalls.
The recalls started in 2016 and have been done in phases as a new airbag inflator has replaced defective units. Some estimates reveal that approximately 100 million Takata airbags replacement inflators will likely be installed over the next few years.
Takata's problem is that their product contained a desiccant (drying agent) that prevents degrading the ammonium nitrate propellant used to deploy the airbag upon impact. However, researchers show that approximately 3 million of these defective airbags were recalled due to their association with a defect.
How to Identify Defective Airbags
Any company or individual responsible for designing, manufacturing, distributing, marketing, and selling a defective product could be held legally liable if their product causes harm.
For example, potential defendants in a product liability lawsuit could include the vehicle manufacturer, the airbag maker, or the third party at fault for causing severe harm to drivers and passengers, and others through a malfunctioning part.
Often, malfunctioning airbags will fail to deploy, explode without impact, explode with minimal impact, or deploy at the wrong time. Sometimes, the airbag deploys after too much force or unexpectedly during a low-speed vehicle accident.
In recent years, counterfeit "fake" airbags have been available in the aftermarket, where auto repair shops and dealerships have replaced a deployed airbag with a new airbag. However, these fake counterfeit parts have only been found in 0.1% of all repaired vehicles in the United States.
Typically, during a collision that impacts the front bumper, the front and side airbag should deploy, protecting the upper body parts and head from even a minimal localized injury.
Therefore, any flaw, malfunction, or defective airbag that fails to deploy upon impact could be caused by a design or manufacturing defect.
Common Defective Airbag Injuries
Even in a minimal frontal or side-impact car accident, specific factors could lead to severe head, and body injuries as the neck and shoulders jerked forward during the crash.
Other common injuries occurring when an airbag malfunctioned include:
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Neck and back injuries
- Facial injuries, cuts, and lacerations
- Broken bones and compound fractures
- Fractured clavicle, sternum or ribs
- Disfigurement or scarring
- Personal injury to pregnant women, including the loss of the fetus
- One or both eye loss of vision
- Local court or larynx damage
- Spinal fractures or other spinal injuries
- Permanent hearing impairment or loss of hearing
- Extensive nerve damage
- Dismemberment (amputation)
- Wrongful death
Recent Defective Airbag Recalls
Over the last 20 years, numerous airbag manufacturers have voluntarily recalled their products or were ordered to do so by transportation regulators.
Takata airbag inflators are part of the world's largest airbag inflator recalls involving defective airbags that have injured and killed multiple individuals with flying metal shrapnel.
The major defective airbag recalls include:
- Takata airbag recall
- Takata airbag inflators recall
- Infinity SUV airbag recall
- Honda/Toyota airbag recall
- Honda/Mazda/Nissan airbag recall
In all, a wide range of motor vehicles has been involved in defective airbag recalls. Including those above, the other manufacturers involved include Acura, BMW, Dodge, Chrysler, Ford, Lexis, Mitsubishi, Pontiac, Subaru, and Saab.
General Motors is also recalling millions of their cars and trucks due to the defective ignition switch and airbag problems. Their defect addresses a malfunctioning ignition switch that shuts off the airbags from deploying when necessary.
All drivers and passengers seriously injured in an auto accident involving an airbag defect have legal rights.
Contact an airbag recall lawyer for a free case review. In addition, our law firm can protect drivers who were seriously injured by the vehicle's airbags, seat belts, or other malfunctioning components in a traffic accident.
Known Airbag Defects: Selling a Car With Faulty Airbags
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), selling a vehicle with faulty airbags is a serious violation. Therefore, the agency mandates that all vehicles with defective airbags be fixed before an individual or business can sell them as used vehicles.
In addition, all safety recalls must be performed before a vehicle can be sold through a dealership or an independent auto sale site such as Craigslist, eBay Motors, and AutoTrader.
Still, motorists and other drivers who notice that a particular car or truck has been in an auto accident may want to consider not buying the vehicle.
In addition to defective airbags, defective brakes, steering columns, and other parts could also create dangerous driving conditions both for the new buyers who do not know of the defects and for others on the roadways.
How to Report a Defective Airbag
According to the NHTSA, any person or driver who has experienced non-fatal airbag injuries or other damages when an airbag deployed improperly should file an official complaint with the agency.
Drivers can either mail their written complaints using form HS-7 within 30 days after the vehicle purchase date or file a complaint online through the agency's website.
In addition to filing a defective airbag complaint, other victims could also consider taking legal action against the airbag manufacturer. Contact experienced product liability attorneys in their area who handle cases involving defective products and preventable Takata airbag injuries.
Filing a Defective Airbag Lawsuit: What to Expect
Any injured party can file a civil lawsuit against the airbag manufacturer and automaker seeking financial compensation for their injuries and damages.
A common compensation case could involve financial recovery to pay for economic and non-economic damages, including:
- Ongoing hospitalization and medical costs
- Rehabilitation and therapy needs
- Past medical bills
- Lost wages and future lost earnings
- Home healthcare aides to help with special accommodations
- Loss of consortium and companionship and wrongful death cases
- Funeral & burial costs in wrongful death cases
Qualifying surviving family members can seek financial compensation by filing a wrongful death lawsuit against the automaker and airbag manufacturer.
These cases can be more complex and take longer to resolve than a simple product liability case, but the financial compensation could result in a larger settlement.
In some cases, automakers might also face criminal charges for withholding information about their defective airbags. In fact, since 2009, multiple Honda and Takata officials have been indicted for manipulating test results that misled the public about their defective airbags.
If faulty airbags injure you, call us today and speak with an experienced defective airbag attorney to determine your legal options before filing a personal injury claim or lawsuit.
You would want to consult with an attorney that has experience representing people injured by faulty automotive parts, including defective airbags.
A Defective Airbag Attorney Available for People Injured When Airbags Fail to Deploy in Accidents
If you have been injured in an auto accident where the airbags did not deploy, you must have a legal representative who looks after all of your interests.
The attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC are qualified in determining the true cause of your accident and whether defective materials or equipment may have contributed.
All consultations with your defective airbag attorney are free of charge and completely confidential— we will never charge you for our services unless we can collect on your behalf.
Call our product liability attorneys at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form to schedule a free case evaluation.