Airbags are designed to protect drivers during collisions. Before airbags became routine safety features on cars, motorists suffered serious injuries crashing into the car’s dashboard and steering wheel during accidents. Although airbags are now a safety feature we take for granted, they do not always function correctly. Faulty airbags that explode without warning, sending shrapnel into drivers and passengers are the subject of one of the biggest recalls in the history of the car industry. It’s important to know what to do if you get injured by an airbag in Maryland.
If an airbag causes your injuries or makes them worse, you may have grounds to sue the manufacturer of an airbag or your car. Talk to Baltimore car accident lawyer Randolph Rice about airbag-related injuries.
What Are Airbags?
Airbags have been fitted on cars since the late 1980s. Manufacturers made them a standard safety feature on all cars, trucks, and SUVs since 1998 and 1999, states the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The NHTSA point out airbags saved 50,457 lives in the three decades from 1987 to 2017 – enough people to fill a major league ballpark.
Airbags are flexible cushions that inflate rapidly during a collision. The protect the occupants of a vehicle during a crash. Modern cars usually contain frontal driver and passenger airbags and side airbags. While seat belts only work if a driver buckles up, airbags are activated all the time unless proactively deactivated. The safety devices are activated by sensors placed in positions that are triggered during an accident, as well as data from wheel-speed sensors, accelerometers, and other sources.
Airbags contain chemical propellants and inflator devices that ignite the propellants. They inflate within 30 milliseconds, states Lifewire. The speed of the inflation means airbags pack a powerful punch. They can maim and even kill which is why small children should never sit in front seats close to airbags in cars. Side airbags inflate even more quickly because there is little space between the occupants of the car and the object that hits it.
Common Examples of Defective Airbag Accidents
When things go wrong, airbags can injure and even kill the occupants of cars in Maryland. Injuries caused by airbags range from whiplash to neck, chest, and spine injuries and traumatic brain injuries. The sudden impact of an airbag can kill drivers or passengers.
- The sensor for an airbag might be faulty and deeply the airbag at the wrong time when the vehicle is not in a wreck. In one case, an airbag deployed when a driver hit a pothole. If your airbag suddenly deploys when you are driving, it can cause a crash as well as injuring the driver.
- The sensor might fail completely meaning the airbag does not deploy during a crash.
- The airbag may deploy during the crash but a microsecond too late. Even the smallest timing issue can be serious for driver or passenger safety because the car occupant’s head moves too close to the airbag.
- The airbag deploys during a low impact ‘fender bender’ causing injuries.
How Many People Have Been Injured or Killed by Defective Takata Airbags?
The death of a man from Arizona from an exploding Takata airbag in March 2019 brought the toll from the devices to 24 fatalities. More than 200 people suffered injuries from malfunctioning Takata airbags, reported USA Today.
The Japanese airbag manufacturer uses ammonium nitrate to inflate its airbags. However, the inflators have deteriorated in humid conditions and exploded sending shrapnel flying through the air into drivers and passengers. The explosions are often triggered by minor events like fender benders.
About 37 million vehicles containing 50 million faulty Takata airbags are part of that recall, states the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Numerous makes and models of cars use Takata airbags. To find out if your car is on the recall list, visit the NHTSA recall site. Most Takata airbag explosions have been recorded in southern parts of the United States where the weather is more humid.
Are Fake Airbags a Problem in Maryland?
The NHTSA warns small numbers of vehicles are equipped with counterfeit airbags. They fail to respond during a wreck or send shrapnel flying into motorists when they deploy unexpectedly.
The NHTSA has a list of cars that may have fake airbags. If a repair shop replaced your airbags within the past three years or you bought a replacement airbag online, contact the call center established by your carmaker to have the airbag inspected. The responsibility for replacing a counterfeit airbag depends on the circumstances, states NHTSA.
Steps to Take if You Get Injured by an Airbag in Maryland
Airbag lawsuits are product liability cases brought against the makers of the airbags or the car you were traveling in. The most important step you can take after an airbag-related injury is to preserve the evidence.
This may not always be possible at the accident scene but request the pickup company and the garage that takes a disabled car away that they must preserve the airbag. If you can still drive the car, tell your garage you need the airbag as evidence.
Even if your car ends up badly mangled, make sure the computer is not wiped clean. This contains important information about the time of the collision, you speed at the time.
Don’t let your car be taken away to a junkyard or be transferred to an insurance company. Often, the insurance company declares a car a total loss and wants to take hold of it. An attorney will advise you on how to hold onto evidence. It’s hard to get your car back once an insurance company has taken it.
Product liability cases are different from straightforward car accident claims because they are brought against a manufacturer. It’s, therefore, vital to have physical evidence. This is also the case with other defective vehicle cases such as those caused by tire failure. In cases of this nature, you may end up using a manufacturer and another driver. For example, if you are T-boned by a red light runner, you will file a claim against the driver. If your airbag failed to deploy or deployed at the wrong time, exacerbating your injuries, you may have grounds to sue the manufacturer. It makes sense to hire a Baltimore personal injury lawyer for these complex cases.
Filing two claims at the same time is an administrative nightmare. Defendants like automakers and airbag manufacturers are more difficult to deal with than other drivers. They will likely fight your case all the way. You should hire an injury lawyer for these types of cases.
Talk to Our Maryland Airbag Injury Lawyer About Your Claim
Airbag injuries are seldom straightforward. The legal team for the manufacturer of an airbag will argue you would have been injured anyway. It’s difficult to prove an airbag deployed at the wrong time during a wreck without in-depth legal investigations. Cases such as the unexpected activation of an airbag when driving, the failure of the device, or Takata inflator explosions are more straightforward to prove. Whatever the scenario, It’s prudent to seek legal advice quickly in these cases. Many injuries caused by airbags go unreported and fail to end up with the manufacturer being held liable You may also be able to hold other parties to account. For example, if a repair shop fitted an airbag incorrectly, it could be responsible for your injuries. A trucker hurt by a defective airbag on his rig could seek compensation against a trucking company.
An experienced Maryland personal injury lawyer will be able to tell you if the failure of an airbag contributed to your injuries and if you have grounds to sue. Please contact the Baltimore-based Law Offices of Randolph Rice as soon as possible for a free and confidential consultation. We never seek payment until a case is settled or goes to trial. Speak with injury attorney Randolph Rice today by calling (410) 431-0911 to schedule a free consultation.