Our cars have numerous safety mechanisms that are meant to keep us safe in the event of a car accident. From seatbelts to roll cages to airbags, these measures prevent hundreds of deaths every year. However, like all other car parts, these safety devices can be poorly or defectively made. When they are, the protection that you were counting on during a car accident is gone.
Airbag malfunctions can be especially costly because of how much damage they prevent in a serious head-on or side-impact collision. Additionally, an airbag defect can make the bag deploy even if there was no crash: If this happens when you are driving, it can be difficult to control the car and can lead to a serious accident. Perhaps even scarier than the impact of an airbag malfunction, though, is that recent recalls have shown just how commonplace they are.
The severity of airbag malfunctions and the number of times they happen showcase the need for the airbag malfunction attorneys at the Philadelphia office of Gilman & Bedigian.
Even though airbags are ubiquitous today, they are a relatively recent invention, only coming on to the scene in the 1980s. Before then, cars were not equipped with airbags or many other safety features. In fact, airbags did not come standard in any cars until 1988, when Chrysler became the first automaker in the United States to make driver's side airbags a standard aspect of their vehicles. By the time 1998 rolled around, all cars sold in the U.S. were required by law to have both driver and passenger airbags. Many vehicles now have other types of airbags, as well, like side airbags, seatbelt airbags, and knee bolster airbags.
While many people think that airbags are just balloons that inflate rapidly in a crash, they are actually surprisingly complex safety devices.
The central airbag control unit (ACU) uses a handful of sensors that detect pressure and impact on the outside of the car, as well as brake pressure, vehicle speed, and changes in direction. Using the data gathered from these sensors, the ACU detects when a collision is about to happen and where it will come from so it can initiate the gas propellant and deploy the appropriate airbags.
Unfortunately, with so many pieces to the puzzle, there are more things that can go wrong and make the airbag malfunction.
Because of all of the elements that go into making an airbag work – from the sensors that relay information to the ACU to the gas propellant that deploys the airbag – the likelihood of a defect that kills the whole process goes up.
While it is a serious problem when an airbag malfunctions and fails to deploy, it can be an even bigger problem when the malfunction makes it deploy or impacts how it deploys.
An excellent example of this is the recent airbag recall by Takata, which was called “the largest and most complex safety recall in U.S. history.”
Most car manufacturers do not actually make their own airbags: Instead, they install airbags made by other companies. One of the largest of these companies is Takata. Between the years 2002 and 2015, Takata installed airbags that housed the gas propellant in a metal cartridge inside the airbag. These metal cartridges, however, had a tendency to break apart when the airbag deployed. The metal shards from the cartridge not only ripped through the airbag, making it deflate and do nothing to soften the impact of the collision, they also flew out into the interior of the car, causing severe laceration injuries to the driver and others inside.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) determined that there were 11 deaths and approximately 180 injuries due to the airbag malfunction.
The problem was made difficult by how many different car makes and models used the particular Takata airbags. In the end, Takata's airbags forced the recall of 42 million vehicles in the U.S., affecting 19 different automakers.
Philadelphia Airbag Malfunction Attorneys
The airbags in your car were meant to keep you safe, and you have almost no way of knowing whether they are defectively made or not unless you get involved in a serious car accident that deploys them. By then, it is too late to protect yourself if they have not been properly designed or installed.
This is where the attorneys at the Philadelphia law office of Gilman & Bedigian can help. By representing you both in and out of court, we can ensure you get the compensation that you need for the injuries you have suffered due to a malfunctioning airbag. Contact us online or at (800) 529-6162.