Stephen Hasner | Car Accidents | May 16, 2020
What happens, though, if the airbag in your car fails to deploy on impact? What if it deploys at the wrong time and actually causes you to have a car accident?
If your airbag doesn’t deploy or goes off at the wrong time, you may be able to get compensation through a personal injury claim based on Georgia’s liability laws.
How Do Airbags Work?
An airbag detects an impact and inflates to shield your upper body from slamming into the steering wheel and dashboard.
After deploying and inflating, the airbag should quickly deflate to allow you to breathe.
When everything is working as it should, the whole process literally takes milliseconds from start to finish.
What Can Cause an Airbag to Fail?
There’s a delicate balance involving chemistry and physics in order for an airbag to function properly. Because it’s such a complicated device, any number of variables could prevent yours from deploying as it should.
Just last year, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration launched an investigation into airbags that could potentially fail in more than 12 million cars. The focus of that study is stray electronic signals in the vehicle’s wiring that can disable the airbag.
That’s just one potential cause of a faulty airbag.
Other common causes of airbags failing to deploy include the following:
- The impact was not strong enough to trigger deployment. Most airbags are designed to deploy when the car experiences a certain amount of force. The thinking behind this is that your seatbelt should be enough to protect you in a small fender bender.
- Inflation and chemical instability. This was the reason behind the massive recall last year of over a million cars with Takata airbags. The problem was caused by a chemical drying solution that led to airbags splitting and sending shrapnel into the faces of the drivers and passengers.
- The airbag was not replaced after a prior deployment. This is especially common in used cars. The NHTSA strongly advises that airbags be replaced immediately after they’ve deployed.
Common injuries from airbags that don’t work right include broken noses and cheekbones, whiplash, severe bruising, concussions, and hearing loss.
What Steps Should I Take if My Airbag Fails?
Physical evidence is a vital part of you being able to get the justice and compensation you deserve. Because of the nature of these types of cases, it’s important you do the following if your airbag fails to deploy correctly.
- Keep all parts of the airbag as possible. The most important part of the airbag to keep is the sensor.
- Maintain possession of your car. Even if your insurance provider declares your car to be a total loss, don’t let them haul it away. The most important thing is not to let your car’s on-board computer system be erased.
- Get medical attention. A complete exam by a licensed medical doctor is invaluable in just about any personal injury case.
As soon as you’re able, you’ll need to speak with a product liability attorney who can advise you on your legal options and guide you through the personal injury claims process.
What Does Georgia Law Say About Product Liability?
A product can be deemed defective for a host of reasons:
- A problem with the making of the airbag. Even if an airbag is designed to work correctly, problems in the manufacturing stage can cause it to fail.
- There’s a problem with the design. Even if an airbag is made in line with design specs, it can still be dangerous if the design itself is bad.
- The maker failed to warn consumers about problems. When a manufacturer becomes aware of a potential problem with their airbag, they have a duty to warn consumers about it.
Whatever the reason for the defect, you and your personal injury attorney will need to prove four things according to Georgia law:
- The airbag was defective at the time you were hurt.
- The defective airbag caused your injuries or the death of a loved one.
- When your injuries occurred, the airbag was in the same condition as when it left the manufacturer.
- You were using the airbag in the way the maker intended.
In other words, you had not damaged the airbag before the accident, and its failure to deploy properly was the direct cause of your injuries.
Is There a Time Limit for Filing a Personal Injury Claim?
If you want to recover money for bodily injuries, you have up to two years from the date of the incident. If you’re trying to recover compensation for property damage, you have four years from the date the damage was done.
Because it takes time to prepare your case, the sooner you speak with a personal injury attorney about your situation, the better.