Airbag in a car

If Airbags Did Not Deploy During a Car Accident, Is the Manufacturer Responsible?

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

Car accidents can be traumatic events that result in physical injuries, emotional distress, and financial strain. In such dire situations, airbags are a crucial safety feature designed to deploy and minimize the impact of a collision on vehicle occupants. However, there are unfortunate instances where these airbags fail to deploy during a crash, raising a significant concern—should the manufacturer be held responsible for non-deployment? 

Airbags and Their Importance

Airbags, a critical safety feature in modern vehicles, were invented and developed during the 1950s and 1960s. John W. Hetrick, an American engineer and inventor, is credited with the earliest concept of an airbag system for automotive safety. In 1951, Hetrick filed a patent for a “safety cushion assembly for automotive vehicles,” describing a system that used compressed air to inflate a cushion to protect vehicle occupants during a collision.

However, the practical implementation and widespread adoption of airbags took several decades. It wasn’t until the 1970s and 1980s that airbag technology began to advance significantly and gained attention from automobile manufacturers and the automotive safety community.

The first commercially available vehicles equipped with airbags were introduced in the 1970s. General Motors (GM) offered airbags as an option on some of their vehicle models in the mid-1970s, and Ford followed suit in the late 1970s. However, these early airbag systems were limited in their effectiveness and deployment mechanisms.

It wasn’t until the early 1990s that airbags became more prevalent and began to be standard safety features in most vehicles. Regulatory agencies like the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in the United States mandated the inclusion of airbags in new passenger vehicles, recognizing their potential to significantly reduce injuries and fatalities in car accidents.

Since their inception, airbag technology has continued to evolve and improve, with various advancements in deployment mechanisms, sensors, and inflator designs. Today, airbags are a fundamental component of automotive safety, designed to deploy in a fraction of a second upon detecting a collision, providing a critical layer of protection for vehicle occupants.

Airbags are a vital component of vehicle safety systems, working in tandem with seat belts to reduce injuries during a collision. Upon impact, airbags rapidly inflate, cushioning passengers and mitigating potential injuries to the head, chest, and neck. Despite their critical role, airbags may sometimes fail to deploy due to various reasons.

Why Do Airbags Fail to Deploy?

Several factors can contribute to airbag non-deployment, including

  1. Sensor Malfunctions: Modern vehicles are equipped with sensors that detect the type and severity of an impact. Malfunctions in these sensors can lead to misinterpretations and subsequent failure in airbag deployment.
  2. Defective Components: Defects in crucial airbag components, such as the inflator or electrical parts, can prevent proper airbag deployment during a collision.
  3. Manufacturing or Design Defects: Flaws in the design or manufacturing process of the airbags or related systems can render them ineffective during a crash.
  4. Software Issues: Glitches or bugs in the software controlling airbag deployment may impede timely and adequate airbag inflation.
  5. Improper Maintenance or Repairs: Negligent maintenance or inadequate repairs can compromise the functionality of the airbag system, resulting in non-deployment during an accident.

Manufacturer’s Responsibility in Airbag Deployment Failures

Manufacturers bear the responsibility of designing, producing, and marketing vehicles that are reasonably safe for consumers. If a manufacturer is aware of a defect that could lead to airbag non-deployment and does not take appropriate action, they can be held liable for injuries sustained by individuals involved in a car accident where the airbags did not deploy.

To establish manufacturer liability, certain elements need to be proven:

Existence of a Defect: Demonstrating the presence of a defect in the airbag system that prevented deployment during the accident.

Causation: Establishing a direct link between the airbag defect and the injuries sustained due to non-deployment during the accident.

Foreseeability: This shows that the manufacturer could have reasonably anticipated the harm caused by the airbag defect and yet failed to take necessary actions.

J&Y Law

When airbags fail to deploy during a car accident, seeking legal representation becomes imperative. J&Y Law, a reputable personal injury law firm based in Los Angeles, is committed to advocating for the rights of those injured due to negligence, including automobile manufacturers.

  1. Experience: J&Y Law’s team of seasoned personal injury attorneys possess extensive knowledge of product liability laws and a wealth of experience in handling cases involving airbag deployment failures.
  2. Investigation and Legal Action: The adept attorneys at J&Y Law conduct thorough investigations to ascertain liability and gather evidence to build a robust case. They pursue legal action against the responsible parties, including manufacturers, to seek compensation for their clients’ injuries and losses.
  3. Client-Centric Approach: J&Y Law places a strong emphasis on the well-being of its clients, ensuring they receive personalized attention and support throughout the legal process. They guide clients through each step, keeping them informed and empowered.

Legal Recourse for Airbag Non-Deployment Victims

Victims of airbag non-deployment may be entitled to various forms of compensation, including:

  • Medical Expenses: Reimbursement for current and future medical costs related to injuries sustained in the accident.
  • Lost Wages & Future Earnings: Compensation for lost income due to time off work during recovery and potential future earning capacity that was affected by the accident.
  • Pain and Suffering: Damages for physical and emotional distress experienced as a result of the accident and injuries.
  • Property Damage: Compensation for damage to the vehicle and its contents caused by the accident.
  • Punitive Damages: In cases of extreme negligence or intentional misconduct, additional damages may be awarded to punish the responsible party and deter future similar actions.

Product Liability Attorneys

In cases where airbags fail to deploy during a car accident, the manufacturer may be held accountable for resulting injuries and damages. Seeking legal assistance from a knowledgeable personal injury law firm like J&Y Law is vital to navigating the complexities of product liability and pursuing rightful compensation. If you find yourself in such a situation, do not hesitate to contact J&Y Law for a free consultation and to discuss your legal options. Your rights and well-being matter and J&Y Law is dedicated to fighting for them.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.