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Airbag Injuries and Failures

By: Anapol Weiss

Vehicles are becoming increasingly safer to keep up with the demands of consumers and government groups. As part of the global effort to improve safety and crash protection, many newer vehicle models have multiple airbags installed to protect occupants in a variety of collisions.

All cars sold in the United States must have dual front airbags. During a crash, the driver’s airbag deploys from the steering wheel, and the passenger’s airbag deploys from the dashboard. Many new cars have a weight sensor in the front passenger seat to detect small statured people and either delay deployment, change the characteristics of the deployment or prevent deployment.

Side airbags protect occupants from side-impact collisions. There are three main types of side-impact airbags:

  1. Torso airbags protect an adult’s chest in a side impact crash. They are either mounted in the side of the seat back or in the vehicle’s door.
  2. Head side-impact airbags can protect both front and rear occupants. Some of them may also remain inflated for a longer period of time to also protect occupants against ejection in the event of a rollover. Some newer convertible vehicles have head side-impact airbags located in the window sill, which deploy upwards in a crash.
  3. Head/chest combination airbags are usually mounted in the side of the seat and are typically larger than torso airbags.

Many new vehicle models now have knee airbags to prevent front seat occupants from sustaining severe knee injuries from hitting the dashboard during a collision.

Rollover airbag systems:

  1. Over the past decade, most SUVs and many passenger cars have been equipped with rollover curtain airbags. In an accident that causes the vehicle to rollover, airbags are deployed from the roof panel over the side windows and they then cover the entire side window and remain inflated for 5 to 6 seconds to prevent or reduce the risk of ejection.

Airbag Injuries

Vehicle occupants can suffer catastrophic injuries if an airbag does not function the way in which it is intended. Dangerous issues related to airbag malfunctions include:

  • Spontaneous deployment
  • Non-deployment
  • Dangerous chemicals used to inflate the airbag
  • Inappropriate contact with the airbag
  • Over-rapid deflation
  • Metal shrapnel punching out of the airbag

Inappropriate airbag sensitivity may cause an airbag to deploy when it is not needed, or it could fail to deploy when it is needed. An airbag must also fully inflate at the right time; premature or late inflation will fail to fully protect the occupant from impact.

Other types of airbag defects – such as the potentially explosive Takata airbags that shot shrapnel at people during a crash – have killed and severely injured drivers and passengers.

For decades, our lawyers have successfully represented people who were catastrophically harmed by these and many other defects.

Failure to Install Airbags

Some car companies have not included certain types of airbags as a cost savings/profit-driven decision. If you or a loved one are involved in an accident in a vehicle that did not include a certain type of airbag, you may have a legitimate claim.

Contact Anapol Weiss for assistance if you or a family member was hurt by a malfunctioning airbag. We can investigate the situation to determine if a defective product is to blame.