All new cars must come with airbags. While they can save a driver’s life in an accident, a malfunctioning airbag could lead to serious injuries. Recent recalls by General Motors reveals how dangerous a malfunctioning airbag can be. If you suffered injuries because of an airbag malfunction, you may be able to file a defective product lawsuit against the car manufacturer for damages.
Airbag Facts: How They Work
Airbags act to cushion the vehicle occupant’s head and body during an accident. They deploy from the steering wheel or dashboard at the moment of impact to prevent the occupant from slamming into the car. This prevents serious head and body injuries. Some airbags deploy from other areas of the vehicle, including on the side of the vehicle.
The feature works using a bag, inflation device and trigger. Usually nitrogen gas inflates the bag. The system can use either electric or manual triggers as well.
For electric trigger airbags, the force of the crash will release a ball or weight that rolls into an electric switch to trigger the airbags. There are also accelerometer trip switches that can deploy the airbags. Manual triggers actuate a firing pin from the force of the crash.
When the gas is deployed, the airbag explodes through the canister at 150 mph or greater. The entire reaction happens in a matter of milliseconds, so the airbag will deploy and inflate at just the right time before the occupant slams into the airbag.
More Airbag Facts
You need to sit at least 10 inches away from the dashboard or steering wheel for the airbag to work correctly. If you sit too close, the airbag timing is off and it can explode in your face. Concussions, bruises and eye damage can result from this force.
General Motors’ 2.6 million car recall shows that airbags might not be as safe as you may have thought. The recall concerned faulty ignition switches. These switches would move into the standby or off position while driving. This would cause the car’s electrical system and engine to shut down completely, and thus prevent the airbags from deploying in an accident. The defect has been linked to at least 13 deaths.
Also, some vehicles now come with passenger side airbag on/off switches, allowing vehicle owners to turn an airbag off. This might be useful if a parent must transport a child in the front seat because there’s no rear seat in the vehicle. The force of the airbag might do more harm than good if deployed in front of a child, but the NHTSA reports that “introduction of advanced frontal airbags has significantly reduced the need” to install an on-off airbag switch.
Also, those with certain medical conditions or who are unable to sit 10 inches away from the steering wheel may request to install an on/off switch in the vehicle – the NHTSA considers requests on a case by case basis. Visit the NHTSA website for more information.
Filing Product Defect Lawsuits Related to Airbags
If an airbag malfunctioned or failed to deploy, or if it deployed unexpectedly and caused injury, you may be able to file a product liability lawsuit against the car’s manufacturer. These lawsuits may involve complex engineering and mechanical issues. Potential plaintiffs may hire a qualified attorney to represent their interests.
Cordisco & Saile LLC can protect your rights in a defective product lawsuit in the Doylestown area. Contact us today at 215-642-2335 to schedule a free consultation or follow our website for more safety updates.