Airbags have been in widespread use since the 1990s. Although they are intended to reduce the risk of injury in motor vehicle collisions, airbags can be the cause of severe injuries. Even with the introduction of “smart bags,” some airbags either fail to deploy when the should, or they deploy when they should not. Also, some airbags deploy too aggressively or too late.
Airbag design has become more complex over the years. For instance, many systems now monitor seat position, the weight of occupants, belt use or non-use to determine when and if an airbag deployment is necessary.
Airbags deploy in a fraction of a second, and some explode at approximately 200 mph. The design intent of the airbag is to have the airbag fully deployed before the occupant starts to interact with the airbag.
Airbags can fail in a number of different ways
a. Failure of an airbag to deploy.
In a non-deployment airbag case, the airbag fails to deploy in a crash mode in which it was designed to go off. In a side or low impact accident, the frontal airbag is not designed to deploy. However, in a higher speed accident with a frontal component, a failure to deploy should be investigated.
In these cases, occupants can sustain injuries that could have been prevented if the airbag had deployed as intended and designed.
Defective driver’s airbag failed to deploy in a severe accident
b. Airbags Which Deploy Too Late in the Accident
Airbags deploy in a fraction of a second. The design intent of the airbag is to have the airbag fully deployed before the occupant starts to interact with the airbag. In other words, in order to achieve maximum protection for the occupant, the airbag must inflate within milliseconds or before the force of the initial collision causes the occupant to move a certain distance toward the interior of the vehicle. If the airbag malfunctions and deploys too late in the accident sequence, the occupant will have moved into the airbag deployment zone and will be hit by an intruding airbag. This is especially dangerous given that an airbag can deploy at 200 mph.
c. Aggressive Airbags
In an accident where the airbag deploys but the belted occupant is severely injured, a number of airbag defects may be present. In addition to investigating when the airbag deployed too late, an investigation should focus on whether the airbag inflation was too aggressive and/or the airbag volume was too large. If the airbag comes out with such great force, and the volume is so large that it contacts the occupant while it is still deploying and before the airbag fully deployed, the airbag may be too aggressive and the airbag volume too large. Also, an airbag may be too aggressive if it deploys in a low speed impact when it should not have deployed.
Defective airbags deployed in minor accident
If you believe that you have been injured by an airbag defect, please either call 414-271-1011 and speak with one of our attorneys, or complete the information below and click submit, and you will be contacted by one of our attorneys.