Airbags are meant to prevent serious head and neck injuries from occurring in a car accident (or, at the very least, reduce the severity of these injuries). When a wreck occurs and your car’s airbags do not deploy as intended, you and your passengers may be seriously injured – or even killed. Pat Carr of the Tulsa car accident law firm of Carr & Carr indicates that drivers and/or passengers who are injured by a defective airbag may have a claim for compensation against the airbag manufacturer or automaker, depending on the specific facts of the injury crash. An experienced and knowledgeable car crash attorney will need to evaluate the circumstances surrounding the crash to determine if the injury victim may be able to obtain compensation through a personal injury claim.
Typical Examples of Airbag Defects
The public’s trust in airbags has been severely shaken in the wake of the Takata airbag recalls. In the case of the recalled Takata airbags, a defective part could cause the airbag to deploy unexpectedly while shooting metal “shrapnel” into the head and/or neck of the driver or other occupant of the vehicle. There are other types of airbag defects, however:
- Airbag fails to deploy at all or deploys after the crash: An airbag is most effective when it deploys immediately in a crash. An airbag that does not deploy at all deprives the driver and/or passenger of the benefit of the airbag. An airbag that deploys unexpectedly after a crash may actually cause an injury to the unsuspecting driver and/or passenger.
- Airbag underinflates: Here the airbag deploys, but deploys with too little force and fails to fully inflate. While the airbag may be successful in limiting the severity of the occupant’s injuries, an underinflated airbag may still result in the occupant suffering an injury that he or she would not have suffered had the airbag worked as designed.
- Airbag overinflates: In this scenario, the airbag deploys but with too much force. Instead of cushioning the driver’s and/or passenger’s head and neck, the airbag can cause whiplash-type traumatic brain injuries, neck injuries, and spinal cord injuries.
When an airbag fails to deploy properly in a crash, the ultimate question to be answered is twofold: “Why did the airbag fail to deploy as expected;” and, secondly, “Who is responsible for the airbag’s failure to deploy?” Unfortunately, answering these questions can require a significant amount of time and investigative resources to definitively answer.
So Do You Have a Claim Following an Airbag Mishap?
Individuals who suffer an injury in an automobile crash due to a faulty airbag may have a claim for compensation if some person or entity – an assemblyman or a part manufacturer, for example – committed a careless or negligent act that either caused or contributed to the airbag malfunction. A design defect in the airbag typically means that the airbag manufacturer that designed the airbag assembly made a careless mistake somewhere in the design process and the result was a defective airbag. A manufacturing defect means that somewhere in the assembly process a mistake was made that rendered the airbag dangerous. Once a defect is determined to exist, it falls to the injury victim and his or her legal team to identify the people and/or entities responsible for the defect.
Carr & Carr is your Tulsa personal injury firm, able to assist you and your loved ones following an injury accident involving a defective air bag. Call Carr & Carr at (918) 747-1000 and allow our legal team to evaluate your situation. We can help you determine if negligence or carelessness played a role in your airbag malfunction injury and, if so, who may be responsible for your expenses and losses.