Passenger safety is still one of the main concerns in the automobile market today. Airbags by far may be the most important safety feature developed in the past decades. The role of an airbag is to save lives and reduce the severity of traumatic injuries suffered by car occupants in the event of a car accident. Yet, airbags are not all that safe. When they are not working properly, they cause more harm than good. If a defective airbag contributed to your injuries in an accident, it important to understand your legal rights and options. You can do this by contacting a personal injury attorney with experience in automobile product liability.
At Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney, we are committed to seeking justice for our clients against negligent auto manufacturers. We understand the nuances of defective airbag lawsuits and are ready to invest in your case to make sure that you are fairly compensated. You can call us at any time (24/7) at 424-231-2013 or fill our online contact form for a free legal consultation.
Statistics Relating To Airbags
The proper name for airbags is Supplemental restraint system and this means that they are designed to work with safety belts. Since 1998, it is mandatory for all new cars to have airbags for drivers and passengers. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), front airbags have saved 12,134 lives in the United States alone between 2011 and 2015. Yet, the NHTSA reports that between 1990 and 2007, 284 airbag related fatalities occurred. The use of seatbelts and airbags reduces fatality risk by 61%. However, there have been major recalls issued by the government in recent years due to defective airbag systems especially the Takata airbag which explode and has injured and killed multiple people. The NHTSA indicates that more than 42,000,000 vehicles are affected. You can look up your vehicle to determine whether it’s in this category.
What to Do If You Suffer an Injury
- Seek medical attention
If you are conscious and aware of the situation, the first thing that you should do is check for any injuries on yourself and on any passengers in your car. If there are serious injuries, the best course of action is to seek medical attention immediately. You can call 911 but do not drive the car with the deployed airbag. Even if you don’t have any symptoms at the moment, it is still vital to get checked because you might have some underlying injuries that might not show immediately.
- Turn off the engine
Some cars have a mechanism that will automatically turn off the car engine if the airbag deploys. This is to prevent fires or explosions from possible oil leaks. If your car is still running, you should turn off the engine and safely exit the vehicle as soon as possible. However, it is important to check the surrounding before you get out of the vehicle because there could be other vehicles that are still driving around you. More importantly, try to secure and preserve your vehicle for inspection for instance by calling a tow truck to remove the car from the scene safely.
- Consult an experienced attorney
An airbag that fails to deploy or one that is underinflated cannot protect the driver and other passengers from catastrophic injuries in the event of a car accident. An airbag that deploys when it is not supposed to can also cause injuries to the vehicle occupants and may also be the major cause of an accident. If you or your loved one has sustained severe injuries as result of a defective airbag, consider retaining an experienced attorney who is not afraid to take on even automobile manufacturing giants. Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney will make sure you receive your rightful settlement.
Types of Airbags
Although many people know of one type of airbag, there are actually different other types offered on vehicles today. The common and original frontal airbag is only one type in the ever changing vehicle safety landscape. The following are types of airbags available on cars today:
- Frontal Airbags
The first airbags designed were frontal only. This type of airbag is useful for the driver and the front-seat passenger. The driver’s airbag deploys from the steering wheel while the passenger’s one deploys from the dashboard.
- Side and Roof Airbags
Unlike the frontal airbags which are designed to protect the vehicle occupants from colliding with the steering wheel, the dashboard, or other parts of the car, the side and roof airbags offer additional protection. These airbags are placed on the door, roof or side of the seat. They reduce the risk of torso, pelvis, chest and head injuries during side impact crashes or rear-end collisions. They also protect occupants from injuries in rollover accidents.
- Knee Airbag
In high-speed impacts, especially head-on collisions, the knee caps can shatter on impact. This is why there is a knee airbag to prevent against severe knee injuries. This type of airbag deploys under the car’s dashboard and prevents the front seat occupants’ knees from heating the hard surface.
How Airbags Work
There is a chain of events that occur when there is a sudden deceleration of the vehicle and airbag deployment is the last of these events. Airbag-induced injuries occur as a result of a poorly designed chain or a failure of any link in the chain.
Airbags are wired to a number of sensors throughout the car. These sensors, which may be pressure, accelerometers or impact sensors, tell the airbag mechanism the physical state of the car. The sensor is able to detect when there is a sudden deceleration or collision at speeds between 8m.p.h and 18m.p.h and sometimes speeds of upwards of 25m.p.h. The sensors are situated in the front of a vehicle, in a door, pillar, and doorsill or in the passenger compartment. This, therefore, means that they can be able to measure deceleration from different angles. Single sensors can misread the need for airbag deployment and this could cause the airbag to deploy too early, too late or not at all. Some models, however, have multiple sensors and some even backup sensors. Defective sensors or too few sensors could be the main source of airbag-related injuries. A Los Angeles defective airbag attorney who knows that to look for and has the resources to hire specialists in such cases is indispensable for fruitful prosecution in cases related to faulty sensors.
- Electronic Control Unit (ECU)
The Electronic Control Unit can be termed as the “command center” in the events that lead to airbag deployment and is located in the middle of the vehicle. When the sensor detects a problem, it sends signals to the ECU which then alerts an inflator. In other systems, the ECU also processes information on seat position, occupant weight and the use of seat belts- factors that may affect deployment and speed of deployment.
- Chemical reaction
Next, an enhancer ignites a propellant causing a chemical reaction that emits a gas that goes through a filter to the folded bag. The gas is usually argon or nitrogen. This whole process occurs in milliseconds and results in the deployment of the airbag. However, side airbags inflate more quickly because the car occupants are close to the sides than they are to the front. The manner and speed at which the airbag deploys can result in injuries. An airbag has com starch or talcum powder which helps it unfold and this is why smoke is seen when the bag deploys.
The last step involves deflation of the airbag which happens through the vents in the fabric. Deflation should take less than one second to enable occupants to move after a crash. However, there are side airbags that may remain inflated for a few extra seconds so as to help protect the passengers in case the vehicle rolls over. Once the airbag has deployed, it cannot be used and therefore, after the deployment, you should not drive the car until the bag has been replaced by authorized personnel.
If you believe the airbag contributed to your injuries, the defective vehicle parts lawyers at Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney have the technical knowledge of complicated airbag functions. We are committed to investigating details of a case including proper scrutiny of the manufacturers, airbag designs, installation, record of defects and response to similar cases. Call us now at 424-231-2013 for a free case consultation.
How Can Airbags Become Dangerous?
Airbags are responsible for saving thousands of life but can be very dangerous when defective especially to small adults and children. Airbags can fail and cause devastating injuries and even death for several reasons including the following:
- Airbag deployment failure: defective airbags may not inflate upon impact and when they fail to deploy, the vehicle occupants are deprived of the protection they could count on. This can lead to preventable traumatic injuries.
- Unnecessary/ unexpected deployment: oversensitive airbags can deploy for little or no reason for instance during minor collisions. When they deploy when they are not needed they can block the driver’s vision and cause avoidable accidents.
- Under-inflated airbags: an airbag that is not designed or installed properly may fail to inflate correctly. Such an airbag may not be able to prevent the occupant from striking the interior of the car.
- Oversized airbags: an overly powerful inflation can violently strike an occupant which can cause severe head injuries.
- Airbag explodes: the airbag may burst upon deployment releasing fragments such as metal and shrapnel which may wound the occupants and cause excessive bleeding.
- Faulty sensors which turn off or deploy the airbags for no reason.
Potential Injuries Associated with Airbag Deployment
Injuries that can be sustained in an airbag defect accident include:
- Eye injuries including orbital fractures, retinal detachment, and lens damage
- Head, neck or spinal injury
- Internal bleeding
- Organ damage
- Bone fractures
Airbags deployment may rupture blood vessels and cause other internal injuries that may not show symptoms immediately, especially in low-speed collisions that don’t have significant external injuries. This is why it is important to get a physical examination after the accident. These injuries can lead to a lifetime of mental, physical and financial struggle. For this reason, you should seek legal help so that you can pursue justice from the responsible manufacturing company and get the compensation you need to put your life back together.
Liability in an Airbag-Induced Injury Case
The success of an airbag defect injury case is dependent on the identification of parties responsible for the accident. The first party identified in most cases is the manufacturer of an airbag that malfunctions. However, there can be other parties liable and this may include the automobile maker who assembles the airbag into the car. It is also likely to seek recovery from the automobile retailer. You need an experienced airbag defect attorney who can be able to identify all the parties that must be held liable for the accident and injuries that you sustained as a result of your negligence.
Getting Compensation for Airbag Related Injuries
Compensation is contingent upon the unique facts and circumstances of your case. Financial recovery may include compensation for:
- Pain and suffering
- Medical expenses
- Psychological damage
- Lost wages
- Property damage
- Permanent physical damage or disability
Retain an Airbag Defect Attorney
If you or your loved one has suffered an injury brought about by a defective airbag, you need an experienced, resourceful and skilled attorney who can pursue all claims and compensation available to you. Airbag car accidents can be complicated and this is why you need a well-established personal injury law firm to handle your case. At Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney, our aggressive attorneys strive to make a difference in vehicle safety. We call in airbag experts to help us with your case and identify the liable parties. You can schedule an appointment with an attorney by calling 424-231-2013 at any time (24/7) for a free case evaluation. If you can’t come to us, we will come to you.