While the safety features in our cars are designed to protect us in the event of an accident, that’s not always how it works. If you’ve suffered from airbag injuries after a car wreck, you have the right to pursue compensation for what you’ve been through. Our Baltimore airbag injury lawyers can provide you with the legal representation you deserve. At Belsky, Weinberg & Horowitz, LLC, we have years of experience representing clients in many areas of personal injury law. We can take on your claim, too.
Airbags, in conjunction with seat belts, are designed to protect all the vehicle’s occupants. They are considered supplemental protection. Most vehicles are equipped with frontal and side-impact airbags that are designed to deploy in moderate and severe crashes.
When they deploy, airbags reduce the chance that an occupant’s upper body or head will strike the vehicle’s interior during a collision. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 47,625 lives were saved by frontal airbags from 1987 to 2016.
Unfortunately, due to manufacturing defects, these devices do not always work as planned. Whether the airbags deploy early, late, or not at all, the consequences can be devastating. If you’ve suffered preventable injuries caused by your vehicle’s airbags, it’s imperative to act quickly after your accident to receive monetary compensation.
How Do Airbags Work During a Crash?
Airbag deployment is triggered by a vehicle’s sudden deceleration. There are four things that need to happen in order for this aspect of a vehicle’s protection system to work effectively in the event of an accident:
- Sensors. A vehicle’s sensors are located in the front of the vehicle, in the passenger compartment, and in a door, doorsill, or pillar. These are designed to measure deceleration from multiple angles. When working correctly, the sensors will not trigger deployment from severe breaking. The deceleration will need to be between eight to eighteen miles per hour.
- Electronic Control Unit. Once the vehicle’s sensors have detected the extreme deceleration, it sends signals to the electronic control unit. This unit alerts the inflator in the airbag and controls the timing, speed, and force of deployment.
- Chemical Reaction and Inflation. This is the point when the airbag deploys. An igniter triggers an enhancer in the system, which ignites a propellant that produces a gas. That gas is what causes the inflation. The entire process takes place in milliseconds. It’s likely you’ll see a substance like talcum powder or cornstarch after deployment, as this helps the airbag unfold.
- Deflation. Just as the inflation occurs in milliseconds, so does the deflation. This occurs through vents in the fabric. Some airbags, like those on the side, take longer to deflate just in case of a rollover. Airbags cannot be reused once fully deployed.
When the steps above do not happen as we’ve discussed, serious injuries can result. Our car accident lawyers know how to investigate the details of your accident, so we can prove airbag failure contributed to your suffering.
What Are the Causes of a Faulty Airbag?
There are a number of signs your airbag was defective. If you know your vehicle did not respond appropriately to your wreck, you may have the grounds for a product liability case. We can investigate the circumstances of your accident compared to your injuries and scrutinize the manufacturer’s airbag design, installation, and safety record. Below you’ll find the most common causes of airbag injuries.
- Late Deployment. If an airbag deploys late, the driver or passenger may suffer more severe injuries than they would have if the device had deployed upon impact. This type of defect may be proven with a bent steering wheel, deformed module cover, or contact marks on the steering wheel.
- Overpowering Deployment. Faulty airbags in older vehicles have been known to deploy too forcefully. This can result in catastrophic or fatal injuries.
- Inadvertent Deployment. As discussed above, airbags are not supposed to deploy in the event of sudden braking. It’s also likely they will stay where they’re at in the event of a minor crash. If an airbag deploys but the occupant does not need the protection from severe collision force, injuries can result.
- Deployment Failure. There are instances where one or both of the front or side airbags fail to deploy on impact. When this occurs, the occupant could make contact with parts of the inside of the vehicle, like the steering wheel or windshield.
What Are the Consequences Associated with Defective Airbags?
The injuries resulting from a faulty airbag can be incredibly serious and may even result in wrongful death. Such injuries include:
- Brain damage
- Spinal cord injury
- Broken bones
- Vision loss
- Hearing loss
- Facial lacerations
Young children are particularly vulnerable to faulty airbags because of their size and proximity to the deployment space, which is why all children under 13 should sit in the back seat in the proper child restraint system for their height and weight.
What Can an Airbag Injury Lawyer in Maryland Do for You?
If you or a loved one has sustained injuries resulting from a defective airbag, our law firm is here for you. We can investigate your claim to ensure the negligent party is held responsible for their faulty product. We’ll also deal with insurance companies who try to delay, underpay, or deny your right to full and fair compensation. For more information on your legal rights and options, and for a free case evaluation, contact our Baltimore airbag injury lawyers today.