Airbags are passive safety restraints that activate when a car gets into an accident. Most modern cars are made with many airbags strategically placed in the vehicle. Yet despite the safety considerations, airbags have been known to malfunction and cause serious injury.
How Do Airbags Work?
Airbags are composed of three main components:
- The Airbag Module: Airbag modules contain the bags themselves made of lightweight fabric and an inflator. Airbag Modules are packed into the steering wheel for the driver and various other panels throughout the car for the passengers.
- The Crash Sensors: These sensors themselves are not triggered by a collision, but by rapid deceleration. Usually, crash sensors are placed toward the front and rear end of the vehicle.
- The Diagnostic Unit: This component monitors the overall health of the airbag system. When the vehicle is turned on, the Diagnostic Unit searches for any problems in the system and warns the driver via a dashboard warning light.
When all three components work together, an airbag can inflate at around 200 mph upon detecting rapid deceleration. Airbags are designed to provide a soft “cushion” between the occupants and hard surfaces of the vehicle. If the airbag system operates successfully, it can greatly reduce the frequency and severity of injuries sustained in a car accident.
Why Do Airbags Malfunction?
Airbags are prone to malfunction if one of the components in the system is not performing properly. Commonly, a component may not work properly because of one of two factors:
- Design Error: An error made in the design of the airbag system causes it to malfunction
- Manufacturing Error: An error made in the manufacturing of the system causes it to malfunction
Often it takes instances of drivers and passengers experiencing airbag malfunction before an error is realized. Airbags may unexpectedly deploy and cause serious injury to the vehicle’s occupants. Past reported injuries include:
- Wrist and Arm Injuries to Drivers
- Friction and Power Burns
- Clothes Melted onto Skin
- Impact Injuries, such as Bruising or Broken Bones
- Impact Deaths, particularly to young children
What to Do if it Happens to You
If you experience airbag malfunction and are injured, consider speaking with a personal injury attorney. The vehicle designer or manufacturer may be liable for your injuries. Car companies and insurance companies have teams of experienced investigators and lawyers trying to settle your case as quickly and for as little money as possible. If you hire legal representation, you are more likely to receive a fairer fight and a higher settlement than if you attempt to handle the case on your own.
If you’ve been injured due to an airbag malfunction, give Kamper & Estrada, PLLC a call. Our experienced personal injury attorneys can help guide you through what happens next.