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Airbag Defects and Car Accident Liability: When Manufacturers Are at Fault 

Airbags play an important role in ensuring the safety of drivers and passengers during car accidents. But what happens when these essential safety features malfunction? Airbag defects not only jeopardize the safety of the vehicle’s occupants, but they can also result in significant harm. Read this blog post to understand when manufacturers are at fault for injuries caused by defective airbags and why it is important to choose the right lawyer to help recover compensation. 

Understanding Airbag Defects 

Airbag defects are a serious concern in vehicle safety and understanding them is crucial for both drivers and manufacturers, especially when they cause or contribute to injuries sustained in a car accident. An airbag defect can manifest in various ways, significantly impacting the safety of the vehicle’s occupants: 

  • Faulty Deployment Mechanisms: This includes scenarios where airbags deploy too late, too early, or not at all. An untimely deployment can be as dangerous as a complete failure to deploy. For instance, an airbag that deployed after a collision can cause additional injuries instead of preventing them. 
  • Excessive Force in Deployment: Some airbags deploy with such force that they cause injuries, such as facial fractures or hearing loss. This is often due to issues in the design or manufacturing process that affect the deployment speed or the amount of inflation gas released. 
  • Use of Harmful Chemicals: Certain airbags have been recalled for using chemicals that can deteriorate over time, especially in high humidity conditions, leading to dangerous deployments. These chemicals can explode violently, causing metal fragments to be propelled at high speeds into the vehicle’s cabin. 
  • Sensor Malfunctions: Sensors play a critical role in determining when and how airbags should be deployed. A malfunctioning sensor might misinterpret a minor bump as a serious collision triggering the airbag unnecessarily, or it might fail to activate the airbag during a genuine collision. 
  • Improper Airbag Size or Positioning: The size and positioning of airbags are designed based on extensive research and testing. If an airbag is improperly sized or incorrectly positioned, it can fail to provide adequate protection or may even cause harm. 

Each of these defects not only compromises the safety of vehicle occupants but also opens the door to potential liability issues for the manufacturer.  

The Role of Manufacturers in Airbag Safety 

The responsibility of manufacturers in ensuring airbag safety extends beyond the initial design and production phases, covering the entire lifespan of the airbag system. Understanding the breadth of this role is key to recognizing where liabilities may arise: 

  • Design and Testing: Manufacturers must adhere to strict safety standards and conduct comprehensive tests to ensure that airbags perform reliably under various conditions.  
  • Quality Control in Manufacturing: Once in production, strict quality control measures must be in place to ensure each airbag system meets the specified design criteria.  
  • Compliance with Safety Regulations: In the United States, for instance, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) sets forth regulations that manufacturers must follow. Non-compliance can lead to recalls, legal action, and damage to reputation. 
  • Transparency and Communication: This includes promptly issuing recalls and communicating effectively with consumers and regulatory bodies about known defects and the steps being taken to address them. 
  • Responsiveness to Defects and Recalls: In cases where defects are identified, either post-production or as a result of accidents, manufacturers must act swiftly to investigate, address the issue, and conduct recalls if necessary.  
  • Educating Consumers: Manufacturers also play a role in educating consumers about airbag safety, including proper vehicle maintenance and understanding how airbags work in conjunction with other safety features. 

Historical cases, like the infamous Takata airbag recall, highlight the catastrophic consequences of negligence in this area. When manufacturers fall short in any of the areas listed above, they may be held liable for accidents and injuries resulting from an airbag defect. 

Legal Recourse for Victims of Airbag Defects 

Victims of airbag defects often face a challenging path to recovery, both physically and legally. Understanding the kinds of legal recourse available is crucial for those affected. The primary avenue for seeking justice and compensation is through product liability law, which is designed to hold manufacturers, distributors, and retailers accountable for injuries caused by defective products. 

Product Liability Claims 

In the context of airbag defects, victims can file product liability claims. These claims are based on three primary grounds: 

  • Manufacturing Defects: If the airbag’s defect is due to an error in the manufacturing process, victims can pursue a claim against the manufacturer. 
  • Design Defects: If the airbag’s design is inherently unsafe, a claim can be filed against the designer or manufacturer for failing to design a safe product. 
  • Failure to Warn: If the manufacturer knew or should have known about the risk and failed to adequately warn consumers, victims can file a claim based on this negligence. 

Class Action Lawsuits  

In cases where a specific airbag defect affects many people, a class action lawsuit may be appropriate. This allows a group of plaintiffs to pool their resources and pursue legal action against the manufacturer collectively. 

Understanding these legal avenues and taking the right steps can significantly influence the outcome of a claim. With the assistance of a skilled car accident lawyer, injured people can ensure their rights are protected and navigate the legal process of securing the compensation they rightfully deserve. 

Compensation for Damages Caused by Airbag Defects 

A driver or passenger injured by a defective airbag may be entitled to various forms of compensation, including: 

  • Medical expenses 
  • Lost wages 
  • Pain and suffering 
  • Punitive damages in cases of egregious manufacturer negligence 

Success in a product liability case often hinges on robust evidence. This includes medical records documenting injuries caused by the airbag, expert testimony about the defect, and evidence that the airbag directly caused the injury. 

Choosing the Right Lawyer for an Airbag Defect Case 

The right personal injury lawyer can offer invaluable guidance, from evaluating the merits of the case to negotiating with manufacturers and insurance companies. Selecting a lawyer with specific experience in both car accidents and product liability is crucial. At Parrish DeVaughn, we bring expertise and commitment to each case, ensuring your rights are vigorously defended. 

Contact Parrish DeVaughn Injury Lawyers 

If you or a loved one was injured due to a defective airbag, do not hesitate to contact Parrish Devaughn to consult with an experienced car accident lawyer in Oklahoma City. Our expertise in car accidents and product liability cases can help you navigate these challenging circumstances. Reach out to us today for a free consultation and to ensure your rights are protected and to explore your legal options.