If you or someone you know has been hurt because of a defective airbag you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Speak to a personal injury attorney at Glotzer & Leib, LLP today for a free consultation and to learn about the benefits of filing a personal injury claim for damages.
Airbags have saved more than 40,000 lives since 1987. Unfortunately, these life-saving devices can also be deadly. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that airbags were responsible for more than 296 deaths in the first two decades that they were required to be installed in passenger vehicles. Airbag and car manufacturers have taken steps to make airbags less dangerous over the past decade. However, defective airbags have become a new threat to vehicle occupant safety. The injuries sustained by defective airbags can range from minor to life-threatening.
Airbags Designed and Regulated to Prevent Harm
Airbags are intended to prevent passenger vehicle occupants from sustaining severe injuries in car accidents. They are generally designed to be deployed when vehicles are involved in “moderate to severe” crashes. According to the NHTSA, a moderate to severe crash is the “equivalent to hitting a solid, fixed barrier at 8 to 14 mph or higher.” Ideally, if you are in a crash the airbags will deploy and cushion the blow. Airbags themselves can cause injuries, even if they are working properly. Children, for example, are at an increased risk of injury because of their size. Certain manufacturer warnings and state laws are targeted to prevent foreseeable injuries.
Defective Airbags and Personal Injury
What happens, though, when airbags do not function properly? Defective airbags can result in serious and life-threatening injuries. Airbags are designed to The injuries that a passenger may sustain will depend on how the airbag was defective.
Airbags were initially designed as a secondary protective measure to protect passengers who are not wearing seatbelts. There are varying national and international standards about how much force should be used in the deployment of an airbag. In the United States, airbags are designed to “trigger much more forcefully” than airbags designed for international use. If the airbag deploys too quickly a passenger may sustain injuries including burns, bruising, and abrasions.
Injuries may be more devastating if airbags do not deploy at all. If the airbag fails to deploy in a crash a passenger may sustain injuries including:
- Spinal cord injuries;
- Fractures and broken bones;
- Internal organ trauma;
- Traumatic brain injury;
- Hearing loss;
- Airbag dermatitis;
- Loss of limbs; and
Defective airbags can also malfunction while deploying. The NHTSA reports that counterfeit airbags “have been shown to consistently malfunction” and expelled metal shrapnel during deployment. If the airbag is defective and malfunctions during deployment a passenger may sustain injuries including second-degree chemical burns, punctures, lacerations, abrasions, broken bones, throat damage, hearing loss, loss of vision, loss of limbs, paralysis, and death.
Takata Airbag Recalls
More than 12 deaths in the United States have been linked to defective airbags manufactured by Takata. According to the NHTSA, defective airbags have been installed in millions of cars across the United States. Airbags are inflated when a gas and chemical mixture is pumped into the safety devices. A compound known as Tetrazole is recommended for use in airbags.
Takata’s defective airbags do not use Tetrazole, but instead, use a less-stable and less-expensive chemical compound. This cheaper alternative has been found to have a flaw that causes certain inflators to rupture when the airbag is deployed. When the inflator ruptures passengers are at risk of being injured by the explosion and metal shrapnel. These airbags can be deployed even if the car is idle.
Determining Liability For Defective Airbags
Who can be held responsible for your defective airbag injuries? When you hire an experienced personal injury attorney to represent you they will thoroughly investigate the situation. Airbags must be designed, manufactured, and installed pursuant to government regulations and standards of practice.
Generally, everyone involved in the design, manufacture, installation, and sale of a product has a duty to provide the customer with a safe product. If a product (like an airbag) is not safe you may have a legitimate claim based on product liability. Your attorney will investigate the defective airbag and trace the reason for the defect that caused your injury.
Damages for Defective Airbag Injuries
Injuries caused by defective airbags can be expensive. A personal injury lawsuit for damages can help to cover the costs – both financial and personal – that you may face after an accident. In California, economic damages may be awarded to compensate defective airbag injury victims for the verifiable financial costs they incur after an accident. These can include medical bills as well as lost wages.
Many times, injuries may prevent you from working. If you aren’t working, you may not have an income to rely on. Economic damages can be awarded to make up for this loss of income. Defective airbags put you at a greater risk of sustaining serious and debilitating injuries, and even death. Often times these injuries also carry intimate and personal harms that are hard to assign a dollar value. Non-economic damages can compensate for these injuries. Examples may include disfigurement, embarrassment, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, and pain and suffering. An experienced California personal injury attorney can help you determine which damages you may be able to recover.
Experienced Los Angeles Personal Injury Attorney
Airbags are intended to prevent injuries, not cause them. The injuries caused by airbags can be prevented if they are designed, installed, and used properly. If you are injured because of a defective airbag you may be entitled to compensation from negligent parties. An experienced California personal injury attorney can help to determine which parties may be liable for the defect and what damages you may be able to recover.
Joshua W. Glotzer has more than two decades of experience helping accident victims recover the compensation they need to get back on their feet. Contact his office today to schedule your free consultation. Mr. Glotzer would be happy to listen to your case, offer advice about the potential for a successful claim, and answer any questions you may have.