How Airbag Deployment Affects Your Claim
Most vehicle drivers expect their airbags to deploy during an accident. However, that does not always happen. These bags are designed to help save your life in severe accidents. When a bag does not deploy, it may be by design or because of a defect. It helps to understand what to do if you are in an accident where your bags do not deploy. If you were injured in a car accident, it also helps to know how bags deploying or not deploying may affect your personal injury claim.
Reasons Why Airbags Do Not Deploy in an Accident
The reasons why these bags do not deploy can be divided into normal and abnormal reasons. When it comes to an insurance claim or a lawsuit, the reason for the device not deploying can be important.
Normal Reasons That Prevent Airbag Deployment
In newer vehicles, safety systems are more advanced. Systems often come with sensors or devices that determine when they are activated. These are some normal reasons why a bag may not deploy in an accident:
- The impact of the crash was not significant enough to trigger bag release.
- Passenger bags may not deploy when the system senses that there is no passenger or there is a child.
- If a child is seated close to an advanced side bag system, it may be designed to automatically deactivate.
- A bag may not deploy if it is not designed to activate for the specific area where the vehicle is hit.
The last point about collision location is especially important to understand. For instance, if your vehicle is struck from the side, the front bags may not deploy if there is not enough forward movement. In that case, the side bags may activate instead if there is enough force.
Safety engineers plan bag systems to deploy when seat belts are not enough to protect a person. This means that impact should be significant. Seatbelts, when worn correctly, are designed to provide ample protection in lower-impact collisions. Bags are not designed to release when you hit a curb, run over a small animal or run into a sign at a low speed.
Abnormal Reasons That Prevent Airbag Deployment
According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, bag systems can be defective for a variety of reasons. When this happens, the devices may not deploy in a severe crash when they normally should be activated. This can result in severe or fatal injuries to occupants. For instance, a high-speed truck collision should activate bags. These are some potential reasons or defects that may prevent a bag from functioning properly in a severe crash:
- There may be defective bag sensors.
- Certain electrical components connected to the system may not be functioning correctly.
- The system may have defective modules.
- Wires connecting the system may be severed during a severe accident and deactivate the bags.
- If you bought a used vehicle, the former owners may not have properly replaced a bag after a previous deployment of one.
Common Injuries in Defective Airbag Deployment Cases
Because defective deployment issues are usually related to higher speeds, injuries tend to be more severe in these cases. Although this is not a list of every potential outcome, these are some common injuries people sustain when bags fail to deploy as they should:
- Lacerations from going through broken glass.
- Broken bones, severe fractures or complicated fractures.
- Severe head injury or brain injury.
- Spinal cord injuries or paralysis.
- Severed limbs or digits.
- Internal bleeding or organ damage from impact.
- Torn muscles or ligaments.
Tragically, some people do not survive accidents with faulty bags. If a loved one died as a result of a faulty bag, you may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit.
How Airbag Deployment Affects Legal Claims
There are two main factors to understand when it comes to airbag deployment affecting the settlement of your case. If you were injured in a car accident that involved a bag deploying, these are some potential ways that it could affect your claim.
In car accident cases where bags deploy, insurance companies tend to offer higher settlements. This is because of how bags are designed to deploy for more serious accidents. When the bags do not deploy, the award may be substantially less. However, there may be an exception if the device was supposed to deploy and did not because of a defect or another reason covered in the previous section. If that happens, the plaintiff must prove that there was a defect, and that topic will be covered in greater detail in an upcoming section.
While the fast-inflating bags can help save a person’s life or prevent some catastrophic injuries, they can also cause severe or fatal injuries in some cases. The bags are designed to activate in about 1/20th of a second, which means that they can produce powerful impact on their own. Some potential injuries from the bags deploying fast include cardiac rupture, cervical spine fracture, lung injury, internal bleeding, rib fracture, face or neck trauma and many other forms of upper-body injuries. Soft-tissue damage is subjective, which means that it is harder to see. It is common in bag injury cases and may lead to greater compensation for pain and suffering.
Insurance companies and courts also consider a plaintiff’s safety precautions at the time of the accident. In addition to the positions of the driver and the bag, a key consideration is whether or not the person is wearing a seatbelt. The devices are designed to work with seat belts to protect people. However, when a person is not wearing a seatbelt, severe injuries or even decapitation can happen from a fast-activating bag. Whether a bag deploys or does not deploy, a plaintiff not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the accident will reduce the settlement offer.
Proving Defective Airbags
What happens when you are in an accident, and your bags do not deploy because of a legitimate defect? In such a case, you may be able to sue the manufacturer. If the accident was not your fault, you may be able sue other liable parties as well. The key is to determine exactly who is at fault or the multiple parties at fault. Doing this is complex and requires the help of a personal injury attorney.
Proving that the bag is defective also requires the right knowledge and steps, and an accident attorney can help with this. Your attorney will use information from your medical records, the police report and other sources to evaluate your case. An attorney will check to see if there are any manufacturer recalls for your device. Also, an attorney knows how to have your vehicle investigated to see if the bag or deployment system is defective.
Airbag Safety Tips
To protect yourself in the future, these are important safety tips that can help prevent some bag injuries:
- Tilt your steering wheel slightly downward instead of upward toward your face.
- Do not place your arms across the steering wheel.
- Move your seat back as far as possible from the front of the car.
- Keep children under the age of 13 in the back.
- Do not let any passengers rest their feet on the dash.
Why You Need a Personal Injury Lawyer
If you or someone you know was in an accident that involved faulty airbags or injuries from them, it is important to have knowledgeable legal representation because of how complex these cases can be. The attorney may file a separate personal injury claim against the manufacturer or liable entity, and there may be an additional lawsuit to collect damages from another liable party. Although insurance companies may offer direct settlements to people, they are not known for offering fair amounts. What they offer is not enough to cover what may be lifelong injuries and their repercussions.
An accident attorney who has handled similar cases knows how to determine the severity and extent of injuries. Also, the attorney knows how to calculate a fair settlement request and fight for an optimal outcome. During the lawsuit process, the attorney handles all correspondence and legal work, giving you more time to focus on your health needs. Your attorney serves as your advocate throughout the process and does not collect compensation until you receive an award.
Since lawsuits take time, it is important to start your personal injury claim as soon as possible. JT Legal Group is here to help you fight for the compensation you deserve. For a free consultation, please contact us.