Airbags are some of the most effective safety devices installed in modern cars. They have saved countless lives since becoming a required safety feature in most vehicles. However, in recent years, one of the largest airbag manufacturers had problems with their airbags malfunctioning, causing accidents resulting in serious injuries to drivers. When an airbag does not work like it's supposed to, passengers and drivers may be able to seek damages from the manufacturer for their injuries.
Airbag Safety Devices
An airbag is a vehicle safety device that is intended to prevent a passenger from impacting the interior of the vehicle. It is composed of a fabric bag that inflates rapidly after sensing a collision. It is supposed to absorb the impact for the body of a driver or passenger. An occupant would hit the softer, side surface of the airbag cushion instead of striking the steering wheel, windshield, or dashboard.
The central airbag control unit (ACU) controls the deployment of the airbag. The ACU has a number of sensors in the vehicle to detect pressure, impact, brake pressure, and vehicle speed. The ACU also has an accelerometer to detect the direction and changes in direction of the vehicle. Using these sensors, when the ACU detects what appears to be a collision or impending collision, the gas propellant will rapidly inflate the fabric bag, deploying the airbag.
The first airbags were a safety feature introduced to a small range of automobiles in the 1980s. Chrysler became the first U.S. automaker to install standard driver's side airbags in 1988. Since 1998, all passenger vehicles sold in the U.S. have to have both driver and front passenger airbags. Most trucks, vans, and other vehicles now also require front airbags. Some vehicles offer additional safety airbags, including side airbags, knee bolster airbags, and seatbelt airbags.
Airbag Malfunction Recalls
Takata is one of the largest suppliers of airbags to vehicles sold in the U.S. There has been a recall of millions of vehicles because of potential airbag malfunctions. The recall affects almost all automakers in the U.S., including Acura; Audi; BMW; Buick; Cadillac; Chevrolet; Chrysler; Dodge; GMC; Honda; Infiniti; Ford; Mercedes-Benz; Mazda; Mitsubishi; Nissan; Subaru; Toyota; and Volkswagen.
The affected airbags had a defect which could cause metal shrapnel to shoot out at the driver or passenger when the airbag deployed. In the event of a collision, the defective inflator and propellant device would send out potentially fatal metal shards into the occupants of the vehicle. Initially, the defect was thought to only affect a small number of cars. However, the recall expanded to include almost 30 million vehicles. Regions with high humidity were more prone to the dangerous defective airbag malfunction.
Airbag Malfunction Injuries
The NHTSA estimates that between 1990 and 2000, about 175 people were killed in the U.S. by airbag deployments. Children are more prone to injury from airbag deployments. Children in rear-facing child seats can have an airbag inflate close to their head, striking the infant and causing head trauma. Children and elderly occupants can also face more serious injuries than other drivers when an airbag deploys.
In some cases, an airbag will deploy when there is no serious accident. Hard braking can deploy airbags. Hitting a large bump in the road could also potentially deploy the airbag. When an airbag deploys suddenly, the driver can lose control of the vehicle. The driver may be shocked by the sudden explosion out of their steering wheel, lose their grip on the steering wheel, or lose sight of the road ahead. This could result in the car ending up in a subsequent accident after the airbag has already deployed.
After an accident, you may try and tell the police and your insurance company that the airbag deployed out of nowhere. However, the insurance company may not believe you and try and blame you for causing the accident. You should not have to be responsible for injuries caused by a defective airbag. The vehicle manufacturer or airbag designer should be held responsible for their defective product. You deserve compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and property damage.
Airbag Malfunction Injury Lawyers
If you or a loved one has been injured as the result of an airbag malfunction in the DC area, you deserve compensation for your injuries. An airbag malfunction can cause serious injuries to the occupant's head, face, and neck. This could result in expensive medical bills, lost wages, and reduced future earning capacity. When your attorney files a claim for your injuries, you may be compensated for your damages, as well as for your pain and suffering. If you were injured due to an airbag malfunction, please do not hesitate to call Gilman & Bedigian today for a free consultation.