Defective Airbags Can Cause Actionable Injuries

Beyond a shadow of a doubt, cars are becoming safer as each new model is introduced. New and improved safety devices are now standard equipment on even the most basic compact car, and in larger luxury and family models and SUV’s, you’d be forgiven for thinking you could drive your vehicle off a cliff without suffering a scratch. Airbags have played a huge role in saving lives in violent collisions; sadly, there are an increasing number of cases surfacing where defective airbag injury lawyers have been called on to represent Oregon clients who have suffered horrifying injuries.

Side airbags in particular have been cited in a number of serious injuries caused by defective airbags. Side impact airbags, also known as side curtain airbags are meant to protect drivers’ and passengers’ heads in the event of a broadside collision, such as those that frequently happen at intersections when negligent drivers run red lights or stop signs. They should also deploy in the event of a violent sideswipe collision, a rollover accident or when a vehicle veers off the road and smashes sideways into a tree or power pole. What’s been happening frequently enough that manufacturers of cars with side impact airbags have been recalling certain models are airbags deploying when no collision has taken place.

In 2004 alone, 1.4 million vehicles were recalled due to wiring problems that could cause an airbag deployment when no collision had taken place. That figure was one million vehicles higher than in 2003. In other cases pursued by defective airbag injury lawyers, the airbags that were meant to protect drivers and passengers failed to deploy, leading to serious injury and tragic deaths in a large number of documented cases.

If you have been injured because your airbags deployed when there was no collision, or failed to deploy during a collision, you may have rounds for a lawsuit.

Defective Airbags Are More Dangerous to Women Children

No doubt based on a large database of statistics regarding the “average” driver, airbags are generally designed to protect the “average male.” The sheer force with which an airbag explodes within fractions of milliseconds after a collision (or in certain cases when no collision has occurred at all) means that women, children and the elderly are at risk of serious injury from airbags. It’s also not helpful if you’re taller than the average driver. A 2007 study by Dr. Craig Newgard of Oregon Health & Sciences University found airbags were associated with a five percent greater risk of serious injury for anyone over 6-foot-three and a four percent increase for any driver shorter than 4-foot-11.

What kinds of injuries can a defective airbag cause?

Defective airbag injury lawyers see clients with a wide variety of trauma. They include damage to the eyes, neck, head, brain and spinal cord, as well as the torso. By and large, these injuries occur under circumstances when:

  • The manufacturer has actually failed to install air bags in the vehicle, in spite of specifications which state otherwise
  • The air bags have failed to deploy in a collision
  • Air bags deploy in a low-impact crash, or in some cases, when no crash has occurred at all. In several well-documented cases, these airbag deployments have caused severe injuries and in some cases deaths, in what would otherwise almost certainly have been a very minor incident.

The bizarre and ironic fact is that the majority of cases arise from the third factor named above; air bags that have deployed when they shouldn’t have. This happens when the air bag was installed incorrectly or was defective, or when the manufacturer failed to include appropriate safety instructions. In cases such as these, defective airbag injury lawyers can file lawsuits under liability laws where the person who was injured does not even need to prove negligence.

Which airbag and car models are being recalled?

In 2008, Honda initiated a recall because their airbags were deploying with so much force, metal parts of the airbag assembly could blast through the airbag, potentially causing horrific injuries to the passenger or driver the bag was meant to be protecting. In February, 2010, Honda said they knew of 12 such instances of these explosive airbag deployments. Eleven led to serious injury and one driver was killed. In May, 2011, that recall was expanded to 833,000 vehicles that could have been equipped with dangerous airbags. In addition to these Hondas:

  • Hyundai recalled Elantra sedan models from 2007 to 2009, citing an airbag system sensor that could cause airbags to open incorrectly. Hyundai said this could increase the risk of injury to smaller passengers.
  • Jeep Liberty 2002 and 2003 models were recalled after several complaints were received about airbags opening for no apparent reason. Almost 400,000 vehicles were affected.
  • Ford recalled about 1.2 million 2005 and 2006 F150 pickups and found a wiring issue inside the steering wheel was causing the problem.
  • Chrysler asked 300,000 owners of Town & Country and Dodge Caravan minivans to bring their vehicles back in for a check-up in August, 2011. This came almost a year after 65,000 Dodge Journey SUV’s manufactured in 2009 were recalled due to reports that side airbags were not deploying.
  • Cadillac put in a recall in June, 2011, for more than 47,000 brand new SRX cross-overs that had side impact airbags that might not deploy in an accident.
  • Kia took until September, 2011, to recall exactly 10,631 Sorrento SUV’s built between June, 2006, and November, 2007, with potentially faulty passenger side airbags.

Defective airbag injury lawyers are important to the success of a lawsuit where a claim is being made against the manufacturer of the airbag itself, as well as the car maker. Such claims can become complex and are often vigorously defended because of the expense to the manufacturers, not alone of the claim itself, but of the potential recalls that may become necessary. A personal injury lawyer will be able to call on expert witnesses who can testify that the reason the injuries occurred was down to the airbag being defective. They can also present and interpret data to help prove your case. If you or a member of your family has been injured by a defective airbag, don’t hesitate to contact an experienced personal injury attorney, who will help you get the compensation you and your family genuinely deserve.