Each year, millions of individuals are involved in car accidents, making them one of the leading causes of death globally. While some incidents are considered minor, others could be catastrophic, resulting in significant harm or even loss of life. In the event of an accident, airbags are crucial for reducing injury severity and protecting the vehicle occupants. In this article, we’ll discuss how auto airbags work.

An Overview of Airbags and How They Work

Airbags are crucial safety features that rapidly expand to absorb impact and safeguard vehicle occupants from harm. Their primary purpose is to enhance seatbelt usage and minimize the risks of severe injuries, especially to the chest and head. Most vehicles are fitted with frontal airbags for both the motorist and front passenger, as well as side and curtain airbags to protect against side impacts and rollovers.

The airbags in your car are all connected to sensors. These sensors send signals to the electronic control unit, which is located in the center of your car. In the event of a collision, the sensors detect the impact and send a signal to the electronic control unit, prompting it to activate the airbags. This entire process happens very quickly, and if everything goes according to plan, your airbags will deploy to protect you and the other occupants of your car from more severe injuries.

The airbags in your vehicle collapse almost instantly after they deploy. This rapid deflation is designed to prevent injury and allow you and your passengers to move around safely again. However, if the airbags fail to deflate correctly after deployment, it can lead to additional forceful injuries. Therefore, it is important to anticipate that the airbags will deflate shortly after they inflate.

Various Types of Vehicle Airbags

Before contacting an airbag defect lawyer, it is crucial to find out the specific type of airbags installed in your automobile. While driver's side and passenger side front airbags are mandatory for cars manufactured in 1998 and earlier, modern-day vehicles are equipped with various alternative airbag types, all of which have the potential to malfunction.

  • Front Airbags

In the event of a head-on collision, your car's front airbags will deploy. One airbag is designed to protect the driver, deploying from the steering wheel. The other airbag is meant for the passenger in the front seat and deploys from the dashboard.

Some vehicles also have occupancy sensors in the front passenger seat. These sensors deactivate the airbag activation feature if the front passenger weighs less than 100 pounds. This safety feature helps protect children who may be seated in the front seat from potential injuries caused by airbags.

  • Roof and Side Airbags

More recent cars may have airbags on the roof or sides, which are designed to keep every passenger safe. These airbags are specifically designed to reduce the risk of injuries to the head, chest, pelvis, and torso in rear-end and side-impact crashes. Additionally, in the unfortunate event that a car turns over during an accident, these airbags also protect the occupants.

  • Knee Airbags

The knees are one of the most sensitive areas of the body. In the event of a crash, kneecaps can be easily broken, which is why knee airbags are crucial. These airbags are designed to prevent the knees of front-seat passengers from colliding with the hard interior surface in front of them. They are strategically placed in the dashboard of the vehicle for this purpose.

Factors Affecting Airbag Deployment

The angle and speed of contact, the nature of the collision, as well as the size and positioning of the vehicle occupants, are some of the variables that can determine the effectiveness of airbags in a car accident.

The Impact's Angle and Speed

The nature of the accident and the efficacy of the car airbags depend greatly on the angle and speed of the impact. In a head-on collision, the vehicle must strike the object at speeds of at least 10 to 15 mph for the airbags to properly inflate and deflate. If the force of impact is considered too severe or slow, the airbags could fail to deploy or deploy incorrectly. Likewise, if the impact’s angle is excessively steep or shallow, the occupants may not receive adequate protection from the airbags.

Type of Impact

The deployment of airbags depends on the kind of impact. In a head-on collision, airbags are meant to safeguard the occupants' heads and chests by rapidly deploying from the dashboard. However, in a rollover or side impact, the car airbags are intended to launch from the sides of the car to safeguard the head as well as the body. It's important to note that the usefulness of airbags in collisions can vary due to differences in the force and timing of their activation.

Size and Position of the Vehicle Occupants

The deployment of airbags is also influenced by the positions and sizes of the vehicle occupants. When an adult sits upright in a seat with both feet on the ground, the airbag is designed to safeguard them effectively. However, if a passenger is reclining, leaning forward, or not fastening their seatbelt, the car airbag might not be able to provide sufficient protection. Similarly, occupants who are either large or small may face challenges in receiving adequate cushioning from the airbag during an impact.

When Airbags Can Be Dangerous and Cause Injuries

While airbags save numerous lives each year, it is important to note that if they are flawed, they can also lead to fatalities or severe injuries. This is especially true for children and smaller adults who are passengers in a car. It should be noted that not all injuries to individuals are caused by airbag malfunctions. Sometimes, there are other factors at play.

There are numerous ways in which airbags can malfunction, including:

Failure Of An Airbag To Release During A Collision

If your airbag fails to activate upon impact, it may result in serious injury. The primary purpose of the airbag is to prevent you from being forcefully propelled forward and colliding with the windshield or steering wheel. It works in conjunction with your seatbelt to provide optimal protection. It is crucial to note that if this fails to occur, the risk of sustaining severe injuries in a crash significantly increases.

Under-Inflated Car Airbags

There is a possibility that an airbag if improperly placed, may not fully inflate during an accident. In such a case, there is a risk of being propelled forward and hitting the interior of the car, potentially exacerbating your injuries.

Unexpected Or Unnecessary Airbag Deployment

Occasionally, airbags in cars can be overly sensitive. In such cases, even a small collision can trigger the deployment of the airbag, obstructing the driver's vision and potentially escalating a minor collision into a more dangerous situation.

Your Vehicle Is Equipped With An Oversized Airbag

If the airbag in your car is too large for the interior, it could potentially injure your head upon deployment. It's important to note that even when deflating, airbags still possess considerable strength. Therefore, it is crucial to avoid excessively large and powerful airbags, as they can pose a serious risk of head injury due to their increased force.

Faulty Sensors

If the sensors in your automobile are malfunctioning, your airbag may activate for no apparent reason. Additionally, it might deploy even in the event of a minor collision, potentially impairing your vision. In the unfortunate case of malfunctioning sensors causing your airbag to fail to deploy when needed, the severity of your injuries could worsen.

Airbag sensors may malfunction due to design flaws or manufacturing defects, which can include malfunctioning algorithms or software that regulate deployment.

Exploding Airbags

If the airbag explodes during deployment, small metal or shrapnel pieces could be propelled into the air and potentially injure the car's occupants. This could lead to cuts and severe bleeding.

Numerous factors can lead to the malfunction of an airbag. Therefore, it is crucial to consult with a skilled airbag defect lawyer for your personal injury lawsuit. These experienced attorneys specialize in airbag defects and possess the expertise to identify the key indicators that determine whether the airbag in your vehicle is responsible for your injuries. They can assess the strength of your case and provide valuable guidance.

Compensation for Airbag-Related Injury Claims

The amount of money you receive in an airbag failure lawsuit, just like in other personal injury claims, will depend on the specifics of your case. However, if your personal injury claim is strong, you may be compensated for the following:

  • Medical costs.
  • Lost earnings.
  • Pain and suffering.
  • Disability or physical harm that lasts a lifetime.
  • Psychological damage.
  • Future income loss resulting from a long-term illness or disability.

Collaborating with a personal injury lawyer increases your prospects of obtaining a fair settlement for your defective airbag case. Insurance firms are not in the business of fair financial distribution. Rather, their purpose is to collect premiums and avoid paying claims.

Therefore, claim adjusters typically strive to reach a settlement amount that is as low as possible. Additionally, automakers are reluctant to compensate for allegedly defective parts due to the fear that it could establish a precedent for future lawsuits.

Insurance firms often resort to fear tactics to convince clients to settle their claims for less money. If your personal injury claim involves a faulty airbag, it is crucial to have a personal injury attorney by your side.

Types of Injuries Caused by Malfunctioning Airbags

Defective airbags have the potential to cause life-threatening injuries while malfunctioning airbags often lead to injuries. The severity of the injuries depends on various factors, such as the size of the impact, the force involved, and the nature of the airbag malfunction.

Some possible consequences of a malfunctioning airbag include:

  • Bone fractures.
  • Internal hemorrhage, which could be potentially fatal.
  • Traumas to the head, neck, or spine have the potential to cause lifelong harm.
  • Harm to the organs, which could sometimes be fatal.
  • Burns.
  • Lacerations.
  • Injuries to the eyes, such as orbital fractures, lens damage, and retinal detachment.

Children and small adults are particularly vulnerable to the dangers associated with airbags because their bodies are not large enough to withstand the force of an airbag impact. To address this issue, many cars are equipped with an occupancy detector in the front passenger seat. This detector ensures that the airbag does not deploy when a person weighing under 100 pounds is seated. In theory, this preventive measure reduces the risk of injuries to the occupant in the event of a collision.

What to Do in the Event of a Defective Airbag Car Accident

Even if you feel fine, you should seek medical help as soon as possible if you were in a car accident and suspect that your airbag was defective. Symptoms of an injury may not manifest immediately, and injuries can arise within a few days. Therefore, it is best to identify any potential injuries you may have.

If you suspect that a faulty airbag has caused an injury to you or a passenger, you should also preserve your vehicle after the collision. Your car contains a black box that stores important information, such as whether the seat belt tensioners were activated, if the brakes were applied, and if the airbag deployment signal was sent.

In airbag defect lawsuits, this type of information is crucial, as it can potentially demonstrate to the judge that the airbag was defective or that the collision was the type that should have activated the airbags. To safeguard this information, you can wait until after discussing your case with an attorney before getting your car repaired or disposed of. It is important to retain possession of the totaled car and avoid giving it up.

If you are physically able, take as many pictures as possible of the automobiles involved in the accident and the scene itself. Capture images of the airbags, the exterior of the cars, and the location where they came to a stop.

After undergoing a medical examination to identify any injuries sustained in the accident, you can consult with a knowledgeable personal injury attorney. They can guide you through the details of your case and provide appropriate legal advice.

During your appointment with your attorney, they will ask you a series of questions to assess whether your airbag was defective or not. One important aspect they may inquire about is your injuries, including the specific diagnosis and treatment plan. Your personal injury lawyer will utilize this information to assess your eligibility for claiming the malfunctioning airbag.

If you are eligible, your airbag defect attorney will assist you throughout the claims process. This includes presenting the defect in court and/or negotiating a settlement on your behalf.

Parties Accountable in a Case of Airbag-Induced Damage

If an airbag causes you harm, you should take action and file a personal injury lawsuit in court to ensure you receive proper compensation for your losses. Unlike other auto accident claims, a personal injury claim related to an airbag defect allows you to pursue legal action not only against the negligent motorist but also against the manufacturer of the airbag or any other companies whose parts failed during the collision. This provides an alternative route to seek justice and hold responsible parties accountable for any injuries caused by the airbag defect.

In certain situations, other parties can be held accountable. This could include the car manufacturer who installed the airbag in your vehicle when it was new, as well as the car dealer. It is crucial to have an experienced airbag malfunction attorney by your side, as there may be multiple stakeholders involved in your case.

How a Personal Injury Lawyer Can Assist

Here are a few explanations of how a personal injury lawyer can support you in court.

They Are Objective and Professional

Personal injuries and auto accidents can cause significant pain and emotional distress. The trauma you experience can make it challenging to make unbiased decisions regarding your accident or injury. That's where a personal injury lawyer comes in. They will handle the submission of personal injury claims on your behalf and provide their expertise, knowledge, and experience to your case. This will help ensure that you receive the compensation you rightfully deserve.

They Assist You in Making Better Choices

Filing a personal injury claim may seem like a lengthy and daunting legal process, especially if you're not a lawyer. However, there are instances where the wrongdoer acknowledges their mistake and offers to compensate you, eliminating the need to file a lawsuit if the settlement adequately covers your damages.

It is crucial to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney who can assess your unique case and provide guidance on your options. They can also offer valuable advice on the most suitable course of action based on the severity of your condition.

Find an LA Personal Injury Lawyer Near Me

Airbags are designed to deploy only in severe front or side impacts. Although they have proven to be effective in reducing injuries, it's worth noting that airbags are not foolproof. Drivers and passengers can suffer injuries even when airbags are deployed during an accident. Therefore, you should consider seeking medical attention following any significant traffic accidents. Additionally, in the event of an accident resulting in personal injury, you can seek legal advice. We at the Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney can help you file a personal injury lawsuit in the event of an airbag accident. Call us at 424-231-2013.