Defective Airbags: When Safety Equipment Goes Wrong
Airbags are an effective car safety feature. Safercar.gov reports that between 1987 and 2008, more than 25,000 lives were saved by frontal airbags. But when airbags malfunction, they pose grave dangers to drivers. It was recently reported that four Japanese car manufacturers, including Nissan and Toyota, recalled 3.4 million vehicles due to defective airbags that were at risk of catching fire.
How do airbags work?
If your car crashes, sensors detect the sudden decrease in speed. A computer then triggers a chemical reaction causing the nylon airbag to inflate with nitrogen. This bag cushions your chest, neck and head, and prevents you from hitting the windscreen, steering wheel or dashboard. The bag then immediately deflates, when it’s working properly. All of this happens in a fraction of a second.
Some of the known airbag defects are:
- Deployment failure — Does not inflate when it should
- Unnecessary deployment — Deploys when there is little or no impact
- Too forceful deployment — Inflates too aggressively
- Inadequate venting — Doesn’t deflate quickly enough
Since these defects exist, it makes it even more important for drivers to wear seatbelts as an extra precaution.
What injuries are caused by defective airbags?
Injuries may vary considerably, both in type and severity, depending on the nature of the defect. Some common injuries are:
- Eye injuries, ranging from simple bruising to ruptured eyeballs
- Skin abrasions
- Hearing damage
- Brain damage
- Broken nose, arm, fingers and wrist
Airbags also pose a major safety risk for children. Children aged 11 and under should not be seated in front of airbags — they should sit in a proper safety seat with seat belts in the back seat of the car.
Engage a Tulsa personal injury lawyer
If you’re injured by an airbag, you may be able to sue the manufacturer and/or designer. Strict liability rules apply, which means you do not need to prove the manufacturer was negligent. Speak to an experienced Tulsa products liability attorney to discuss your case.