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Car Accidents and Airbags

July 27, 2018

Car Accidents and AirbagsAn airbag is made of a light fabric and is deployed during a car accident to protect those in a vehicle.  The size of the bag is dependent on if they are in the driver’s seat or the passenger’s, as the steering wheel makes the driver closer to a place where their head can strike during an incident.  If the same sized airbag were used for the driver as the passenger, it would be too large and potentially suffocate or snap the driver’s neck. There are airbags usually located in the steering wheel center, behind the dashboard, and on the side doors.  Side-door bags usually only deploy during side-car accidents.

In order for the airbags to deploy, they are connected to a special crash sensor which will sense any collision at a speed of at least 8-10 MPH.  This triggers an igniter of usually argon or nitrogen gas to fill the bag and protect the passenger. It deploys at an incredibly fast 1/20th of a second and then deflates immediately.  It is meant to only protect people from the moment of impact, as the bag being out any longer than this could cause unnecessary injury or breathing trouble for those in the car.

This is why it is so crucial that people be at the right distance from the bag and for the crash sensor to function properly.  The most common deployment issues that tend to arise are in the fault of the crash sensor, in which it either didn’t recognize the impact, deployed only one of the airbags, or deployed them moments too early or too late to be of any help.  After crash sensor issues, it usually involved non seat-belted individuals sitting too close to the deployment area.

Most Common Airbag Related Injuries in New Jersey

A malfunctioning airbag can be cause for serious concern, but any deployment of an airbag can result in injuries. The most common injuries include:

  • The speed of deployment can cause extreme heat release resulting in burn injuries.
  • Particles and substances on the airbag and inside the airbag compartment can be breathed in which is dangerous for asthmatic individuals or those with weak lungs.
  • Airbags can damage eyes and vision.

Even if an airbag deploys as it is supposed to, injuries can occur to a passenger, especially if they are too close during deployment.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends that drivers and passengers sit back and keep a ten inch distance from the deployment area

Ability to Sue Regarding Airbag Related Injuries in NJ Automobile Accidents

An airbag has to have actually malfunctioned in some way in order to be able to work with a lawyer to receive a personal injury claim.  An injury due to deployment or lack thereof does not automatically get you a case.  In order to win, you must be able to prove that someone has “product liability”, meaning someone clearly made an error or someone designed something in way that made it unreasonably dangerous or risky.

If you believe the airbag has malfunctioned, there are several defendants that can be considered in an airbag injury case:

  • the automobile manufacturer
  • the airbag and sensor manufacturer, and
  • if the car’s airbag was inspected, maintained, or replaced after purchase, whoever was responsible for that.

What to Do If You Think Your Airbag Has Malfunctioned

Preserving the evidence is crucial if you believe your airbag did not work properly during your accident.  You will want to preserve the airbag and sensors and not allow the insurance company to take away the car during a total loss situation (which is often what the insurance companies try to do).  It may be difficult, but do your best to fight them on it and keep the car until evidence is properly collected.  Also be sure to prevent anyone from wiping the car’s computer system clean to preserve evidence of the crash and the motor vehicles parts.  Without these types of evidence, it is very hard to win a personal injury case of this nature.

Contact a New Jersey Automobile Accident and Injury Attorney Today

Hoyt & Hoyt have dealt with a variety of automobile accident cases for decades and have come across malfunctioning airbags as well.  If you feel you were not properly protected during your car accident and want to file a claim, we are the ones who can legally represent you and get you the coverage you deserve.  Contact Hoyt & Hoyt today for your New Jersey Automobile accident or call us at 973-292-2299.

The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.

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