Air bags inflate almost instantly at the moment of impact in a car accident. But the energy required to inflate an air bag can cause it to strike car occupants with enough force to injure them, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) says.
Newer air bags are designed to minimize the risk of injury, but air bags in older vehicles still pose a threat. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimated that from 1990 to 2008, more than 290 deaths were caused by front air bag inflation in low-speed crashes. Air bags new and old may also fail to inflate, leaving car occupants to suffer injuries that are more severe than they would have been with the air bags’ protection.
Contact Ginarte at 1-888-GINARTE (1-888-446-2783) or through our online contact form to set up a meeting today. A lawyer from Ginarte Gallardo Gonzalez Winograd L.L.P., can review your air bag injury for free. If we pursue a claim for you, we receive compensation only after you win the case.
Meant to Save Lives, Air Bags Also Cause Injuries
Air bags are designed to inflate at the moment of impact in a car crash to protect occupants from serious injury. Air bags may be mounted in the front areas of a car – such as in the dashboard and steering wheel – in the sides of seats and in door and ceiling panels. Sensors are supposed to indicate whether a crash is severe enough to warrant air bag deployment.
To be effective, an air bag must deploy within the first 50 milliseconds (0.05 seconds) in a frontal crash and within the first 20 milliseconds (0.02 seconds) in a side crash, the IIHS says.
Air bags became common in motor vehicles in the 1990s, and front air bags have been required in new passenger vehicles in the U.S. since the 1999 model year. Side air bags are available in many car models, but they are not required.
NHTSA estimates that as of Jan. 1, 2009, more than 28,000 people had survived car accidents because of front air bags. An IIHS study found that side air bags with head protection reduce a car driver’s risk of death in driver-side crashes by 37 percent and an SUV driver’s risk by 52 percent. Side air bags designed to protect only the torso reduce the fatality risk by 26 percent for car drivers and by 30 percent for SUV drivers.
NHTSA says that, of more than 290 deaths caused by front air bag inflation in low-speed crashes, most of those killed were passengers, and more than 90 percent of those were children and infants. Short and elderly drivers can also be vulnerable to inflation injuries from front air bags because they tend to sit close to the steering wheel, the IIHS says.
Side air bags also have the potential to cause injury, although they typically are smaller and deploy with less energy than front air bags, the IIHS says.
In other cases, an air bag may fail to deploy when it should. The IIHS estimates that 1 to 2 percent of occupants who died in car crashes while seated in the front seat may have been in crashes in which the air bag system failed. Defective air bags can also inflate even when there is no accident, and actually cause a crash.
Air Bags and Product Liability
Product liability law addresses who should be held accountable if a consumer product is defective and someone is harmed by it. A product may be found to be defective if it has a design defect or a manufacturing defect, or if the manufacturer has failed to adequately warn consumers about certain inherent dangers in the use of the product. Anyone in a faulty product’s supply chain could potentially be held responsible for the injuries the product caused.
Acura, Ford, Hyundai, Mercedes-Benz, Toyota and others have faced lawsuits over air bags. Car manufacturers like GM, Chrysler, Honda, Nissan and Mazda have recalled air bags.
Air bags have been recalled because the manufacturer understood they could deploy with too much force. They have also been recalled because of fear they would not deploy in a crash. For example, Chrysler recalled thousands of its minivans in 2013 saying that, in a side-impact crash, the air bags on the side opposite from the impact could deploy instead of the air bags nearest the crash.
Clearly, an injury caused by an air bag that deployed incorrectly or that did not deploy upon impact should be investigated to determine whether there was a defect in the product.
Contact a NY / NJ Air Bag Injury Lawyer
If you have been injured because of how your vehicle’s air bag operated or failed to function during a car accident, you may be entitled to compensation for medical expenses, lost income and other losses due to your injury. The New York / New Jersey air bag injury lawyers at the Ginarte firm can investigate your accident and injuries and help you obtain the compensation you deserve.