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Defective Airbags and Liability

The purpose of an airbag is to decrease injuries and the likelihood of death due to a crash, but when a defective airbag fails to deploy, the severity of a car accident can drastically increase. A faulty airbag is defined as one that fails to inflate completely upon impact, does not deploy on impact, or deploys when there was no impact. There are many possible placements for airbags, such as a head side-impact airbag to shield the head in a side-impact or a seat-mounted curtain airbag to protect passengers in the front and rear seats. This means many different types of injuries can occur. Possible injuries caused by faulty airbags include broken bones, asthma attacks, blindness, hearing loss, or damage to the skull and brain, which can lead to paralysis or death. Another common injury is airbag burn caused by the chemicals that cause the airbags to inflate or the gases that vented after the airbag inflates.

When filling an airbag lawsuit, there is not always a clear-cut answer as to who would be held liable; instead, it would be determined through a series of questions such as Was the defect a result of a flawed design? Did the defect occur while the airbag was being manufactured? Were there insufficient consumer safety warnings? In terms of damages, a lawsuit can include the cost of medical bills, the cost of lost wages, and compensation for pain and suffering. Another possible factor could be punitive damages; it would be separate compensation meant to be used as punishment for extreme negligence.

From 2002 to 2015, over 30 million vehicle recalls were due to defective airbags, specifically those that deploy without cause. Manufacturers who recalled during this period include:

  • Ford
  • BM
  • GM
  • Honda
  • Chrysler
  • Mazda
  • Mitsubishi
  • Nissan
  • Subaru
  • Toyota
  • Ferrari
  • Jaguar/Land Rover

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