Drivers have a duty to know how their vehicles should function and also how potential problems might affect their driving, such as airbag failures. Knowing these things is the best way to maintain your duty to drive with care and safety. Airbags have been the subject of major recalls since it was first discovered that certain defects in this safety equipment have caused accidents, personal injury and deaths.
Airbags are designed to inflate instantly, as soon as their sensor detects a sudden deceleration or collision impact. Unfortunately, millions of recalls have been issued recently for potential airbag failures. In some cases, airbag defects have resulted in premature activation, non-activation, or in the worst cases, fracturing of the small inflator device. When the inflators fracture, tiny shards of the device are propelled at very high speeds, puncturing the airbag and flying into the passenger compartment. Several people have died due to lacerations from defective inflators.
Airbag Deployment Failure & Safe Driving
Be prepared for the possibility that your airbags might fail to operate properly when needed. Airbags inflate almost instantly, which leaves you next to no time to react. An inflated airbag will make control of the vehicle difficult at best. Always use seat belts and do not sit too close to the airbag compartment. Facial lacerations and burns from chemicals are a common injury when the airbag explodes, releasing the inflation chemicals into the air outside the bag. Unless there is a medical reason to do otherwise, children should always be seated in the back seat of the vehicle. Also, if your vehicle has had an airbag replaced, double check to ensure that it is the proper replacement type and not a counterfeit.
Airbag maker, Takata, Ordered To Pay $1 Billion Over Air Bag Fraud – Wall Street Journal 2017
4 Steps to Take When Airbags Fail to Deploy
Being prepared in this case means that you know what to do when an airbag failure occurs. The primary issue with airbag defects is that they either give you no time to react to a failure of function, or in the case of non-function, no protection from harm.
If the airbag fails to deploy, you will be faced with possible harm from impact with vehicle interiors, the steering wheel, side panels or dashboard. If it deploys prematurely, without cause, you will have your ability to control the vehicle instantly impaired because the airbag will be in the way and/or you may also have severe injuries if the inflator disintegrates and shrapnel and chemicals are dispersed into the vehicle compartment.
As with any accident, there are primary steps to take if you are not severely injured and you are able to still react to the problems. Here are four essential steps to help you manage this event:
- Stay Calm – If you are driving and the airbag sudden deploys when there is no impact or collision, it will interfere with your steering and braking ability. Do not panic, but try to control the vehicle if possible. If injuries occur due to an exploding airbag, you may or may not be able to maintain control over the vehicle, depending on the severity of the injuries. Airbags are designed to deflate quickly, and one that is punctured should also deflate almost instantly. If you are in an accident with another vehicle, changes are that you may not be able to move the vehicle at all. In that case, be very careful when you exit the vehicle, if you are able to do so, so that you are not further harmed by other vehicles that may be driving past the scene.
- Pull Over – Inspect for damage to yourself, passengers and the vehicle. If needed, call for help. Try to drive the vehicle to a safe place, out of a traffic lane. If the vehicle is not movable, set out marking lights or flares to warn other drivers. You may also want to put your blinkers on, if they still function. This is especially important at nighttime.
- Collect Evidence – The inflator shards, the torn airbag, photos of the accident and injuries, medical reports, and other evidence will be needed to determine the cause of any failure. Collect all you can at the scene, or have someone else do that for you. Once the car is towed away, it may be too late for an inspection for evidence of malfunction.
- Contact an Experienced Personal Injury Attorney – They will help you decide the best course of legal action to take such as filing an airbag recall lawsuit. Work with a legal professional who has dealt with airbag failure cases successfully in the past. After all, airbag maker, Takata, was recently ordered to Pay $1 Billion Over Air Bag Fraud.
Airbags have definitely proven their value by saving tens of thousands of lives; they are an important part of your vehicle safety system. However, in recent years, it has become known that many defective airbags have entered the marketplace. A variety of airbag defects has caused physical harm, death and property damage to hundreds of unfortunate victims. In some cases, the manufacturers knew about the issues, but did not disclose their findings to the public. This is also being addressed within the legal system today.
Millions of recalls have been issued, with new ones constantly being issues. If you or a loved one are injured or killed as a result of an airbag failure to deploy properly, you should immediately consult with an experienced Personal Injury attorney. You or your survivors may be able to obtain substantial monetary compensation for harm due to airbag failure.