While airbags are gradually being considered a first line of defense against serious injuries in the event of a car accident, because of the nature of how they work, there are occasionally situations in which airbags cause injuries on their own. In some circumstances airbags that deploy improperly, fail to deploy, or deploy when they are not needed, can lead to fatalities from brain injuries or other serious consequences. Particularly as manufacturers add more airbags to vehicles and add new technology, there is an increase in the opportunity of the innovations to malfunction. A Boca Raton car accident lawyer would be able to tell you that more cases than you would expect feature malfunctioning airbags in some respect or another, an issue that brings an accident into the field of personal injury law which is called product liability.
Earlier this year, a lawsuit was filed by the husband of a woman who died in a car accident in May of 2011. According to reports, the woman involved in the accident, LaDonna Stewart, was driving a 2000 Ford Explorer XLT when her vehicle was rear-ended. Reportedly, Stewart was wearing her seatbelt; however, according to the lawsuit, both the seatbelt and the airbag were defective and Stewart was ejected from the vehicle. The lawsuit seeks more than $1.2 million from Ford Motor Company for wrongful death. This is one of many cases against manufacturers due to flawed airbags. While there are inspections and other procedures in place, there will never be a perfect system. What any product liability suit should demonstrate successfully is that the particular flaw in the product is one that should have reasonably be noticed or predicted by the manufacturer or designer of the defective product.
Acting on a report from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), Volvo recalled 17,000 cars in 2012 because of issues with the airbags. The report by the NHTSA documented that the wire harness on the airbags was faulty; the harness may not have been attached properly to the seat frame, which led to it potentially disconnecting when the seats were moved. The flaw would cause the airbags to either deploy improperly or not at all in an accident. In another incident, earlier this year Hyundai recalled 185,000 of its Elantra models due to an issue with a support bracket—one that might lead to the bracket coming lose with the side curtain airbag deployed, which could have resulted in injuries. As any Boca Raton car accident lawyer can tell you, it is not just the airbags themselves that can be a problem.
Problems don’t just exist with airbags that fail to deploy properly in the event of an accident, but also with airbags whose design flaws lead to them inappropriately deploying when no accident is occurring. Every car accident lawyer likely has a story of a client whose airbag deployed while they were attempting to drive—which is not just dangerous, particularly if the driver is on the highway—but can lead to injuries such as broken facial bones and head trauma. If you have experienced injuries due to a flawed airbag, contact a Boca Raton car accident lawyer to learn more about your options in pursuing compensation.