If you’re considering filing a defective airbag lawsuit, start by documenting the incident thoroughly in a journal, including details of the malfunction, any injuries sustained, and images of the vehicle and airbag. Seek immediate medical attention for any injuries, as medical records will be crucial evidence.
Preserve the vehicle in its post-incident state and identify the responsible party, whether the vehicle manufacturer, airbag supplier, or another entity in the production chain. With legal guidance, file a lawsuit against the responsible parties, seeking compensation for damages.
Common Types Of Defects Resulting In Defective Airbag Lawsuits
Defective airbag lawsuits can arise from various types of defects that compromise the safety and functionality of airbags. Some common types of defects leading to such lawsuits include:
- Failure to Deploy: Airbags that fail to deploy during a collision or deploy with a delay can be a critical defect, putting occupants at risk of serious injuries. (Learn more about worst car accident injuries)
- Overly Aggressive Deployment: On the contrary, airbags deploying too forcefully or at the wrong angle can cause injuries, such as fractures, burns, or abrasions.
- Inadequate Crash Sensors: Faulty crash sensors may misinterpret the severity of an impact, leading to either non-deployment in high-impact crashes or unnecessary deployment in minor incidents.
- Takata Airbag Inflator Defect: The infamous Takata airbag inflator defect involves the risk of rupturing upon deployment, causing metal shrapnel to spray into the vehicle, resulting in severe injuries or fatalities.
- Electronic Malfunctions: Issues with the electronic control unit (ECU) or software malfunctions can lead to incorrect deployment decisions or failure to deploy when necessary.
- Design Flaws: Flaws in the overall design of the airbag system, such as inadequate cushioning or positioning, can contribute to injuries instead of providing protection.
- Manufacturing Defects: Errors in the manufacturing process, such as substandard materials or assembly mistakes, can compromise airbags’ structural integrity and effectiveness.
- Recall Delays: Delays or failures in issuing timely recalls for known airbag defects can result in prolonged exposure to potential risks for vehicle occupants.
Type Of Injuries Result From Defective Airbags
Defective airbags can lead to a range of injuries, varying in severity based on the defect’s nature and the incident’s specific circumstances. Common injuries resulting from defective airbags include:
- Facial Injuries
- Head and Neck Injuries
- Chest Injuries
- Eye Injuries
- Fractures and Sprains
- Internal injuries
- Hearing loss
- Psychological trauma
- Injuries to the fetuses of pregnant women
- Wrongful death in extreme cases
It is important to note that the severity of injuries can vary, and some defects, like the Takata airbag inflator issues, have been linked to more severe and even fatal injuries.
What Compensation Can You Pursue After Airbag Injuries?
After sustaining injuries due to airbag malfunctions or failures, individuals may pursue various forms of compensation through legal action. The potential compensation can include:
- Medical Expenses: Reimbursement for all medical costs related to treating injuries caused by the airbag malfunction, including hospital bills, surgeries, medication, rehabilitation, and ongoing medical care.
- Pain and Suffering: Compensation for physical pain, emotional distress, and mental anguish resulting from the injuries and the overall traumatic experience of the airbag malfunction.
- Lost Wages: Recovery of lost earnings if the injuries prevent the individual from working during the healing period, including future income loss if the injuries have lasting effects on employment.
- Property Damage: Compensation for damage to the vehicle or other personal property caused by the airbag malfunction.
- Loss of Consortium: In some cases, compensation for the negative impact the injuries may have on personal relationships, including loss of companionship, support, and intimacy.
- Wrongful Death Damages: If the airbag failure results in a fatality, surviving family members may pursue wrongful death damages, including funeral expenses, loss of financial support, and compensation for the emotional toll.
- Punitive Damages: In cases of gross negligence or willful misconduct by the responsible party, punitive damages may be awarded to punish and deter similar conduct in the future.
What Happens When Airbags Deploy?
When airbags deploy, a rapid and carefully orchestrated sequence of events enhances occupant safety during a collision. When airbags deploy, it may result in the following:
- Crash detection
- Signal to inflators
- Ignition of inflators
- Inflation of airbag
- Cushioning impact
- Occupant protection
It’s important to note that the entire process, from crash detection to deflation, occurs in a fraction of a second. The effectiveness of airbags depends on proper deployment timing, which is precisely calibrated to the severity and dynamics of the collision.
Takata Airbag Recall
The Takata airbag recall is one of the most extensive and consequential recalls in automotive history, involving defective airbag inflators manufactured by the Japanese company Takata Corporation. The recall, which began in the early 2000s, was prompted by serious safety concerns related to the inflators’ tendency to rupture upon deployment, leading to the release of metal fragments into the vehicle cabin.
Key points about the Takata airbag recall:
- Scope of the Recall:
The recall affected tens of millions of vehicles worldwide, spanning numerous automakers. It impacted various vehicle makes and models, with a focus on those equipped with Takata airbag inflators.
- Rupture Risk:
The defect in Takata’s inflators was linked to the degradation of ammonium nitrate, a propellant used to generate gas and inflate the airbags. Over time, exposure to high temperatures and humidity caused the propellant to become unstable, increasing the risk of inflator rupture.
- Injuries and Fatalities:
The defective inflators were associated with numerous injuries and fatalities globally. Metal fragments released during airbag deployment could cause severe injuries to occupants.
- Recall Phases:
The recall was conducted in multiple phases, prioritizing regions with higher humidity levels, as humidity was identified as a contributing factor to the defect. Front airbags, particularly on the driver’s side, were the primary focus of the recall.
- Replacement of Inflators:
The remedy for the recall involved replacing the defective Takata inflators with newer, safer versions. Automakers coordinated efforts to replace the faulty airbags, and affected vehicle owners were urged to contact their respective manufacturers for replacement.
- Bankruptcy and Legal Consequences:
The extensive nature of the recall had financial repercussions for Takata, leading the company to file for bankruptcy protection in 2017. Additionally, Takata faced legal actions and fines for its role in the defective inflator crisis.
- Consumer Response:
The recall prompted increased awareness among consumers about vehicle safety and the importance of addressing recalls promptly. It also underscored the significance of timely and effective communication between automakers, regulators, and the public.
The Takata airbag recall serves as a landmark case highlighting the critical importance of ensuring the safety of automotive components and the potentially far-reaching consequences of defects in critical safety systems.
Your Airbag Didn’t Deploy In An Accident? Consult an Attorney
If your airbags did not have a recall, but you suspect defects, a product liability lawyer can assist by evaluating your case, investigating potential issues, and determining if legal action is warranted.
They bring legal expertise to establish liability, negotiate with manufacturers for a fair settlement, and, if necessary, represent you in court to seek compensation for injuries or damages caused by defective airbags.