In some cases, airbags can kill you due to defects, installation errors, or issues with deploying. Other variables can make this safety feature dangerous, such as sitting too close to the steering wheel, not wearing a seat belt, or getting debris caught between you and the airbag.
If you lost someone in a car accident and suspect airbags worsened their injuries, you can file a claim or suit to recover damages. A wrongful death lawyer can investigate the airbag manufacturer and other potential liable parties.
What Are the Risks That Airbags Can Kill You?
Airbags save lives by cushioning the body during an accident, whether they deploy in a low-speed crash or a high-speed collision. However, this safety measure only minimizes injuries if it works. Any failures in how an airbag is made or installed can turn this safety feature into a significant danger.
For instance, when airbags deploy too early or underinflate, they don’t cushion the body enough, worsening accident victims’ injuries. When deployed incorrectly, they can launch shrapnel along with the airbag, according to Forbes, and cause burns. Likewise, gases can irritate the lungs, worsening certain injuries or preexisting medical conditions.
Likewise, airbags that don’t deploy can kill indirectly, leading to fatal head and abdomen injuries, like traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), spinal cord injuries (SCIs), or internal bleeding.
Companies that make mistakes when designing or manufacturing an airbag or its sensor system can cause fatal accidents once a car is on the road. An example is Takata airbags, which the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recalled due to the risk of explosion when the airbag deployed.
However, the issue could lie with just one faulty airbag or airbag system rather than a wide-ranging design flaw. Likewise, if you lost someone who suffered fatal injuries, you could still have a case for damages without a recall. A product liability lawyer can look into the type of airbag in your case to determine its history.
Improperly installed airbags can deploy incorrectly, at the wrong time, or fail to deploy. Installation errors can occur with the car’s initial production or after an accident when a car is in for repairs. If a dealership or repair shop fails to install a new airbag correctly, that could cause a problem later.
In fact, some maintenance shops install undeployed airbags from other vehicles to cut costs. While, in theory, this is OK, not only can recycled airbags be installed incorrectly, but they could also be recalled airbags, and you wouldn’t know.
Who Is Liable if an Airbag Kills Someone?
Since the liable party varies based on the defect your loved one experienced, you can reach out to an auto accident attorney, like the ones at Ged Lawyers, to investigate. Below are some of the common targets of our investigations. One or more could share responsibility.
The Airbag Manufacturer
Naturally, if the airbag at the heart of your family member’s case was faulty, the manufacturer could be liable. If our attorneys identify mistakes in design or production, we can file a product liability suit against the manufacturer.
The Car Company
Car companies are to blame for failing to check the airbags and notice errors. They can also face separate liability if they make mistakes when installing the airbags or the system that controls them.
- Sellers that fail to check for airbag recalls on your vehicle
- Dealerships that make mistakes during maintenance
- Used car sellers that fail to properly replace airbags
Like with the other liable parties, sellers share blame for not noticing issues. Auto accident lawyers can determine if they should have known about a problem with an airbag before letting a car leave the lot.
Auto Repair Shops
As mentioned, problems with installing new airbags, recycling old or recalled ones, and other maintenance mistakes can leave these shops liable after fatal airbag injuries occurred.
How Do You Pursue Legal Action in a Fatal Airbag Case?
Typically, when a passenger airbag kills someone, surviving family members can file an insurance claim or a wrongful death lawsuit. A personal injury lawyer can help with both, including situations where you need to transition a claim into a suit because no agreement is reached.
Claims and lawsuits can help your family recover damages for:
- Medical bills from the decedent’s treatment and end-of-life care
- The income they lost while they were receiving treatment
- Future lost income that they can no longer provide your family
- Funeral services and burial or cremation
- Recognition of their and your pain and suffering
- Your grief and the loss of an important relationship
You might pursue claims or suits with multiple parties depending on the circumstances. For instance, if the direct cause of the car accident was a negligent driver—someone who drove drunk, ran a red light, made a wrong turn, etc.—you might pursue damages from them and the above liable parties.
Beware Common Blaming Tactics
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) highlights some of the risks for passenger airbag injuries, including:
- Not wearing a seat belt
- Sitting closer to the steering wheel
- Using certain child safety seats
The liable party in your case might try to claim one or more of these situations applied to your family member, thereby putting the blame on them for their fatal injuries.
Evidence like photos and traffic camera footage, accident reconstruction, and witness testimony can dispute some of these claims. Moreover, an attorney can work to put the focus on negligence at the heart of the case.
What Else Can a Personal Injury Lawyer Do?
Attorneys can fulfill many roles after an airbag causes someone’s death, including:
- Helping with bad faith insurance cases if your claim is not investigated properly, dragged out unnecessarily, or unfairly denied.
- Conducting our investigation to gather evidence of negligence from all possible parties.
- Reviewing settlement offers, explaining the terms to you, and advising you on a fair offer in your case.
- Handling the daily operations of your case so that you can grieve instead of filing paperwork or responding to emails.
- Representing you at trial if the liable parties refuse to settle for fair compensation.
Call Ged Lawyers Today If a Defective Airbag Caused Your Loved One’s Death
You can get a free consultation today from Ged Lawyers to learn more about lethal airbag cases and your legal options for pursuing a case involving fatal airbag-related injuries. We work on contingency, so you don’t have to worry about paying us up front or racking up hourly fees.
We only get paid when we get results. Contact us now to get started.