Airbag Injury Lawyers

Defective Airbag Injuries

Today’s advanced airbags use sophisticated sensing devices to determine how and when to deploy depending on various factors, including the severity of the crash. When airbags fail to work as the manufacturer intended, they can be more dangerous than the collision itself. Faulty design, defective components and production errors are just some of the reasons airbags malfunction, causing auto occupants to suffer serious injuries and sometimes lose their lives. In some cases, airbag manufacturers, as well as automakers, are aware of defects but fail to take necessary steps to protect the public.

At Robinson Calcagnie, Inc., we know firsthand the harm that defective airbags can cause drivers and their passengers. The physical injuries can be debilitating and disfiguring, and the economic damages from loss of work and costly medical bills can be overwhelming. If you have been injured or lost a loved due to a defective airbag deployment, please contact us today at (888) 348-8855 or by completing our online form for a free evaluation of your potential case.

When Airbags Fail

Airbags fail for many reasons, and it isn’t always easy to determine the cause. This is why it’s important to contact an experienced personal injury attorney if you are involved in an accident where the airbag may have contributed to injuries or death. Some of the most common airbag failures are caused by faulty signals in the airbag crash sensors, overly powerful airbag inflators, lack of tethers (straps), and inadequate testing. When this happens, the airbags may:

  • Fail to deploy, deploy spontaneously, or deploy when it isn’t warranted such as in minor accidents;
  • Deploy too slowly, aggressively, closely or at an incorrect angle;
  • Rupture or explode on deployment releasing poisonous gas and powder substances;
  • Release plastic and metal debris during or after deployment;
  • Become too hot, catch fire; and
  • Cause an injurious second impact after a collision.

Any type of airbag failure heightens the risk of injuries and deaths among vehicle occupants, especially small adults and children who are seated in the front of the vehicle cabin. Most airbag injuries present themselves immediately following a crash, but sometimes they don’t appear until days or even weeks after the accident. Some of the most common airbag injuries include:

  • Severe facial burns, cuts, abrasions and scarring;
  • Permanent eye injuries;
  • De-gloving (skin removal);
  • Brain trauma;
  • Head, neck, chest, shoulder and wrist breaks and sprains;
  • Tinnitus and permanent hearing loss;
  • Lung and heart damage;
  • Suffocation or impact; and
  • Death of drivers and passengers.

Holding Airbag Manufacturers Responsible

At Robinson Calcagnie, Inc., our personal injury and product liability lawyers work with expert witnesses and investigators to help determine if an airbag contributed to injuries sustained in an accident. Each situation is unique and takes a team dedicated to finding the true cause and building a strong case to hold the responsible parties accountable. In many cases, this involves many parties that were involved in the design, manufacturing, storage, transportation and installation of the airbag.

If you have been involved in an accident where the airbag may have caused you or a family member harm, please contact us today to speak to a legal representative.

Airbag History and Requirements

Airbags have been installed in cars since the late 1970s, but suffered design issues that caused many fatalities. In 1999, the government mandated the use of improved airbags in autos, small trucks and vans in efforts to replace first-generation airbags. At this time, airbag safety was improving, but safety testing procedures were lacking and auto occupants were often harmed during crashes, especially adults of small stature, children and infants.

In 2004, advanced frontal airbags with sophisticated sensing systems that adjusted to occupant size arrived. Since this time, the number of small adult and child injury and death rates have declined, although heightened risks in these size groups still exist today. Side airbags and rollover airbags are not currently government mandated, but most automakers install them since the government requires a certain level of head and torso protection for occupants in side impact crashes.

Between 2007 and 2010, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) drastically revised its crash performance standards, substantially raising the bar for automakers. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) also tests automobiles for crash worthiness, crash avoidance and collision mitigation to help ensure consumer safety. NHTSA is the governing agency responsible for closely monitoring overall airbag safety, but devices still malfunction due to faulty design, components and manufacturing processes. In many cases, airbag and auto manufacturers are aware of the defect due to testing or accident reports, but choose to put profits before safety.

Airbags Today: Are They Safe?

Frontal and side airbags – also known as supplemental restraint systems (SRS) – are designed to cushion the impact between car occupants and the interior of the cab and the roadway. They deploy (inflate) at various output rates in moderate-to-severe crashes to help protect auto occupants from the vehicle’s interior and outside objects. The deployment happens in the first 50 milliseconds (0.05 seconds) in a frontal crash and within the first 20 milliseconds (0.02 seconds) in a side crash. Properly working airbags deploy with a loud “shot-gun bang” at forceful speeds reaching up to 200 mph. Sometimes, depending on the timing, airbags can also cause a harmful second impact during a collision.

According to NHTSA, airbags are proven to reduce injuries and save lives during most serious crashes. In fact, the most recent NHTSA data shows that airbags saved the lives of 39,976 people from 1987 to 2012; however, according to a review conducted by IIHS, airbags don’t always perform as planned. The report showed that “an estimated 1-2 percent of frontal occupant deaths in crashes represented potential airbag system failures where deployments would have been expected.” These figures don’t include the car occupants who survive airbag failures, but sustain serious injuries that caused life-changing physical, emotional and financial harm.

Rising Recalls: A Global Issue

In the last fifteen years, airbag use has skyrocketed, but so have doubts regarding their safety, effectiveness, testing requirements and approval processes. The New York Times reports that about one third of the 30 million auto recalls issued during the first six months of 2014 were airbag-related. Eight major auto manufacturers–Honda, Toyota, Nissan, Mazda, Ford, Chrysler, BMW and General Motors (GM) –recalled millions of cars due to faulty airbags causing great concern among auto owners.

Robinson Calcagnie, Inc. is currently representing clients in nationwide cases involving defective vehicles and airbag components for the following:

  • Major automaker General Motors (GM) has recalled millions of vehicles since 2014 due to faulty ignition switches, airbags, steering, seat belts, seats, brakes and power train of its models. A study commissioned by the Center for Auto Safety found that over 300 people lost their lives in auto accidents as a result of airbags that did not deploy in currently recalled GM automobiles, according to a report in the New York Times.

Contact Us for Your Free Consultation

If you have questions regarding your airbag injury or right to a potential claim, please call us at (888) 701-2188 or complete our online form to speak to one of our legal representatives.