Airbags have been fitted into cars for nearly 50 years, although they have only been common in American cars since the 1980s. Although airbags are designed as safety devices, they have caused significant trauma during vehicle accidents, and have been liable for hundreds of fatalities. Given airbags deploy at speeds exceeding 100 mph, it’s not surprising that many motor vehicle accident occupants say the airbag appeared to explode and sounded like a gunshot.
The airbag is connected to a crash sensor, which will deploy the airbag if the car gets into a bad enough crash [i.e. a head-on crash at 14 MPH]. In more severe crashes, the sensor will activate an igniter to that produces a gas to fill the airbag as it deploys. The airbag will deploy in about 1/20th of a second, hence seeming to explode out of the steering wheel.
Airbags use crash sensors to detect the magnitude of the impact in a car accident. A malfunctioning crash sensor will improperly measure impact force, and can thus cause severe injuries or wrongful death. Even the force of an appropriate airbag deployment can cause serious or fatal injuries if the passenger or driver is too close to the airbag when it deploys.
Failure to Deploy
The most significant airbag deployment error occurs when the crash sensor fails altogether, which can happen in one of several ways. The sensor might malfunction and deploy the airbag at the wrong time, like when you’re driving down the road and an impact has not occurred. Improper deployment can happen because of an electrical sensor or electrical defect. Sadly, some auto companies have used sensor combinations that are overly susceptible to deploy during low-speed, localized crashes, such as a car striking a pothole or curb.
Conversely, the crash sensor might not deploy the airbag when it was supposed to deploy. Or, the vehicle it might deploy one of its airbags, but not the others. Likewise, the car’s safety system might deploy the airbag, but a nanosecond too late. Deployment of the airbag even a fraction of a second too late could cause serious injury, because now the delay may cause the driver or passenger’s head is to move too close to the airbag. This increased proximity to deployment will cause the airbag to hit the driver and/or occupant at angles and speeds it was not designed for.
Contact Craft Law Firm
If you have been in an accident where you suspect the driver, passenger, side-impact or rollover airbag malfunctioned, you should find out if your suspicions are correct. You deserve the protection that comes from a safe and effective airbag during any type of a car crash. The experienced auto product liability lawyers at Craft Law Firm have handled airbag claims nationally for a number of years. Contact us today so that we can help you and your family navigate the confusion of automobile defects litigation.