These days, cars are built with extensive safety features designed to prevent accidents or reduce the risk of injuries in the case of an automobile crash. Unfortunately, there are times when the very safety features designed to protect vehicle occupants actually cause harm and more severe injuries. Sometimes, this is due to a widespread defect in the safety feature, sometimes it’s due to the feature malfunctioning.
This is true of airbags. Airbags were created and designed to lessen the risk of severe injuries in car crashes. Exploding airbags, malfunctioning airbags, and other airbag-related issues, however, have caused catastrophic personal injuries and death.
For decades, the attorneys at Patterson Dahlberg have fought hard for clients who suffered personal injuries or the death of a loved one thanks to someone else’s negligence. Our attorneys are highly skilled at managing insurance claims and negligence lawsuits and can help you determine the best course of action that will maximize your recovery following a Minnesota car crash, whether that involves an airbag lawsuit settlement or going to court.
Airbag Safety Features
Airbags are considered passive restraints, meaning the vehicle occupants do not have to do anything to activate them. They are designed to inflate when a vehicle is involved in an accident at a certain speed or with a certain amount of force. Using a combination of sensors, control modules, and a propellant and inflator, the airbags are activated in moderate to severe accident scenarios—in low-speed collisions they are not activated as they can cause more injury—and can be inflated in less than 1/20th of a second. The inflation is designed to stop people from colliding with parts of the vehicle that could cause severe injury, including the steering wheel and side windows. Individual airbags will deploy depending on the type of accident, such as a side impact, rollover or head-on collision.
Vehicles are now designed so that the sensors that tell an airbag to activate can tell if a person of a certain size is in the seat, preventing airbags from deploying where there is no person or deploying and injuring a child.
There are a variety of ways in which airbags can malfunction in a Minnesota car accident, including failing to deploy when needed, deploying at the wrong moment, deploying when not needed, or exploding.
Failing to Deploy When Needed
The purposes of an airbag are to prevent a car crash victim’s head or upper body from striking the interior of the vehicle—such as the steering wheel, dashboard, or side windows—and to provide an extra level of protection between the vehicle’s occupant and any object the vehicle strikes—including another vehicle, a tree, or a pole.
If the airbag does not deploy when it is needed, the people in the car are at risk of head trauma, whiplash, and internal injuries. In catastrophic cases, they can suffer broken necks, broken spines and can die from their injuries. That’s why it’s vital airbags deploy when they are needed.
Deploying at the Wrong Moment
In some scenarios, airbags deploy during the right circumstances but at the wrong time. If an airbag deploys even a split second too late, the occupant’s body can be too close to the airbag when it inflates, putting that person at risk of injuries thanks to the force the airbag deploys at. This can also cause brain and head injuries, spinal injuries, and airbag burns.
Deploying When Not Needed
Drivers have experienced situations in which an airbag has deployed during a low-speed car crash or when no car crash has occurred. This situation sometimes referred to as spontaneous airbag deployment, increases the risk of a serious injury, especially if the airbag deploys when a person is in the process of driving the vehicle.
Airbags contain an ignitor and propellants that are supposed to be harmless, but they can ignite with such force that the airbag explodes, sending shrapnel and debris flying into the vehicle’s cabin and causing risk of injuring or even killing the occupants. The force of the airbag deploying can turn its components into projectiles strong enough to cause life-threatening bleeding injuries.
Exploding airbags was the reason for millions of vehicles being affected by the Takata airbag recall. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), those airbags exploded when they deployed after long-term exposure to high heat and humidity, causing serious injuries and deaths.
Causes of Airbag Failure
Issues with airbags not deploying properly can be caused by a number of factors, including defective airbag sensors, defective electrical components, defective airbag modules, and severed wiring. These issues can be related to defective design or manufacture, or by exposure to the elements—such as moisture or humidity—in older vehicles, or by defective airbag components.
Automobile manufacturers and airbag manufacturers have a duty to ensure their safety features work as promised and do not cause additional injury by malfunctioning. If the airbags are not properly designed or manufactured, or if they are not installed in the vehicles correctly, victims could be eligible to file a lawsuit for those responsible.
Among the injuries associated with airbag failure are:
Additionally, airbag injuries to the face, airbag chest injuries, and airbag hand injuries can all cause significant and permanent harm.
Airbag Injury Attorneys
If you have been injured in a Rochester car accident or a Southeastern Minnesota car crash, you deserve expert representation. At Patterson Dahlberg, our attorneys have extensive experience fighting for our clients who have been injured in Minnesota car crashes, guiding them through the legal process during the stressful time following their car accident. We’ve recovered more than $120 million for our personal injury clients and will apply our specialized expertise to your defective airbag lawsuit.
Whether your claim involves an airbag malfunction lawsuit or anything else related to a car accident, we can help you. Let our knowledge and skill work for you, to maximize your recovery. Contact us today for a no-obligation consultation by either filling out our contact form or calling 1-877-288-9122.