Airbags provide significant additional protection to drivers and passengers of vehicles involved in collisions by helping to limit crash forces and protecting occupants from contact with the hard surfaces of the vehicle.
However, because airbags must deploy at a high rate of speed to be effective, airbags can also present a safety risk to automobile occupants. If you believe your accident was caused by a defective airbag, feel free to contact our auto defect lawyers and have our team assess your case.
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Since airbags were first regularly offered in vehicles in the mid-1990s, they have proven to be effective at improving the safety of vehicles.
Findings about the importance of airbags by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA):
Despite these important safety statistics, there remains a misconception among some members of the public that airbags are not needed if a driver and passenger(s) wear seatbelts. This is not correct. Airbags and lap and shoulder belts work together as a restraint system. Restrained drivers and passengers who travel in a vehicle equipped with airbags are far more likely to survive a crash than belted individuals who travel in a car without airbags.
While airbag technologies have saved thousands of lives, they present risk of death or injury to vehicle drivers and passengers when an airbag defect is present.
The best way to identify the types of airbags installed in your vehicle or a vehicle you are considering for purchase is to examine the owner’s manual and inspect the interior of the vehicle. If you have additional questions about the airbags and the protection they are intended to provide, contact the vehicle manufacturer. You might also consider reading a vehicle’s safety reviews in auto publications such as Car and Driver and Consumer Reports.
The most common types of airbags today are frontal and side airbags:
Some of the most common airbag defects include:
Defective airbags too often cause injuries to vehicle occupants. Some injuries from defective airbags include:
Some automobile and airbag manufacturers continue to face significant challenges in designing and manufacturing safe, durable, and reliable airbags
which serve their intended purpose without creating separate safety threats to the consumer. A number of significant recent airbag defect product recalls include:
In late 2012, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency announced an investigation into widespread counterfeiting of replacement airbags which were sold online to unwitting consumers and auto repair and service stores. In a test crash conducted by Honda, the counterfeit airbag exploded with fire and disbursed debris from the steering wheel toward the vehicle occupants. The government announced that approximately 250,000 vehicles may be affected, according to an ABC news story.
If you had your vehicle’s airbag replaced by a non-dealer repair shop or replaced the airbag yourself via an online purchase, please visit your local authorized car dealer to have your air bag inspected and certified.
According to NHTSA and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, future airbags will likely possess a number of innovations to improve safety and further limit injuries to occupants from airbag deployments. Some of the recent innovations in airbag technology include:
For adult vehicle occupants, it isn’t your size, age, or gender that determines risk for airbag injuries. Your position in relation to an airbag is most
important in identifying adult airbag injury risk factors. Most adults can greatly limit the risk by buckling up. Short women and elderly drivers are less vulnerable to airbag injuries if they use seat belts and sit at least 10 inches from the steering wheel.
NHTSA studies show that most airbag deaths occur where people are not seatbelted or where the occupant is positioned very closely to an airbag. Unfortunately a 2010 study by the International Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found the mortality of belted drivers of vehicles with the latest generation of airbag technology — certified-advanced – was 21 percent higher than drivers of the prior generation airbag technology, sled certified airbags with advanced features. However, the same study found that mortality rates for right front passengers and unbelted occupants were similar to the prior generation of airbag technology.
The following are a series of NHTSA safety tips to maximize the benefit of airbag and seatbelt safety restraint systems:
NHTSA recommends that you not turn off the airbag except under very limited circumstances. Situations where it may be appropriate to deactivate an airbag include:
Depending on the type of vehicle, airbag switches may not be available. Manufacturers and dealers are not required to install airbag switches for consumers.
Prior to having an airbag switch installed, NHTSA recommends that you carefully consider whether the risks outweigh any benefit of having an airbag deactivated. If you conclude that it is appropriate to have an airbag deactivated, you must contact NHTSA to obtain permission for the deactivation.
If you or a loved one was injured by an airbag in a crash or non-crash incident, make sure to immediately seek medical attention. Second, make sure that the vehicle is preserved. Communicate in writing with your insurer or any other business or organization regarding the location and security of the vehicle and obtain written verification that the vehicle will not be modified, destroyed, sold or otherwise disposed of as it may constitute evidence in a legal matter. If the vehicle is destroyed, your legal options may be severely limited due to the inability to fully investigate the nature of the product defect.
Before contacting The Gilbert Law Group® or any other attorney, you can read the twenty questions you should ask a product defect attorney to learn more about the investigative and litigation process.
The Gilbert Law Group® has years of experience successfully litigating dozens of airbag defect cases which caused serious injuries to innocent victims. Our in-house engineering department is unsurpassed in technical know-how and innovative investigative techniques which enable us to carefully and efficiently identify product defects and assess your legal options early on in a case.
Contact an auto product liability attorney at The Gilbert Law Group® for a free consultation to discuss your air bag defect case.
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