Why do airbags sometimes fail to deploy in a crash?

How Do I Know If My Airbags Were Supposed to Deploy

After a car accident, determining liability for your injuries can help you decide how to best alleviate the financial burden associated with the incident. If your airbags did not deploy in the crash, this could potentially mean that you have the basis for a valid product liability claim as well as a personal injury case.

Should the Airbag Have Deployed?

It is a common misconception that airbags should deploy in every accident. The force of an airbag can cause traumatic brain injuries, loss of hearing, blindness, burns, or broken facial bones if it deploys when it is unnecessary. Therefore, airbags are intended to only deploy in serious crashes.

If you've been in an accident and you are trying to determine if your airbags should have deployed, consider the following:

  • At the time of impact, you need to be traveling above 12-18 miles per hour for the airbag to deploy.
  • Passenger airbags will not inflate if the passenger is a child since they are intended for adult use.
  • Frontal airbags should deploy in head-on or near frontal crashes.
  • Side and side curtain airbags only deploy when you have been stuck from the side.
  • An angled front impact might not set off any airbags.

Airbags are not intended as a substitute for seat belt use. To protect yourself, you should always buckle up before you start to drive.

What Causes Airbag Failure?

Airbags are monitored and controlled by computer network sensors that calculate the location and severity of the impact. Based on pre-programmed criteria, the sensors determine if the airbag should deploy. When the sensors fail, the airbag will not work.

In addition to faulty sensors, airbag problems can sometimes be traced to faulty wiring and design or manufacturing defects. Unfortunately, these issues are often undetectable until an accident has occurred.

Should I Be Concerned About the Takata Recall?

Over the years, there have been multiple recalls associated with defective airbags. However, the largest and most recent recall involves vehicles from 19 different automakers made from 2002 to 2015. These vehicles have airbags made by Takata, which have been linked to 18 deaths and hundreds of injuries throughout the United States.

The Takata airbags have defective inflators, which can ignite with explosive force. If the inflator ruptures, it can send metal shards flying throughout the vehicle. The risk appears highest in areas with both high-humidity and high-temperature cycling, but incidents have been reported in all climates. As the result of this defect, Takata has been named in multiple product liability lawsuits.

Efforts have been made to notify vehicle owners if their cars are included in the Takata airbag recall, but drivers who move frequently or purchased used vehicles from a private party can prove difficult to contact. If you do not know what brand of airbags are installed in your vehicle, you can contact the car's manufacturer or take it to a nearby dealership for assistance.

How Does a Faulty Airbag Affect My Eligibility for Compensation?

Normally, when you are involved in a car accident, the at-fault driver is financially responsible for damages you have suffered. The equation becomes a bit more complicated if there is evidence to suggest your vehicle had faulty airbags.

When the airbags failed to deploy and you suffered injuries that would likely have been prevented if the airbags were working correctly, the airbag manufacturer may be responsible for those additional injuries which could otherwise have been avoided. If the accident is one that shouldn't have triggered the airbags, there is no possible product liability claim.

Due to the expense in bringing a product liability claim against a manufacturer of an airbag, the additional injuries must be substantial and valued at an amount greater than the available insurance or assets of the at fault driver.

Regardless of who is responsible, your compensation can include the following types of damages:

  • Medical expenses, including emergency care, follow-up care, and any anticipated future medical needs for an accident-related disability
  • Loss of wages while you were unable to work due to your injuries and any applicable loss of future earning potential due to an accident-related disability.
  • Aid and assistance with daily living.  When one is severely injured they may need in home care, living assistance or yard care.
  • Pain and suffering, including both the physical pain and emotional trauma from the accident.

Meeting with an experienced personal injury attorney can help you determine how to best proceed with your case. Call today at (909) 481-0100 or toll free at (888) MY-IELAW to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with the dedicated legal team at the Inland Empire Law Group. Appointments are available at either our Rancho Cucamonga or Victorville offices.