Airbag Failure: When Safety Systems Fail to Protect Drivers in Nebraska

Airbags are a critical safety feature in modern vehicles, designed to deploy rapidly in the event of a crash to protect vehicle occupants. However, like any mechanical device, airbags can sometimes fail to perform as intended. When airbag systems fail, the consequences for drivers and passengers can be severe. This article examines the causes of airbag failure and what legal recourse Nebraska drivers may have if they are injured due to a malfunctioning airbag.

Airbags Are Supposed to Save Lives

Airbags first began appearing in passenger vehicles in the 1970s and became standard equipment in most new cars by the early 1990s. When deployed, an airbag emerges from the steering wheel or dashboard at speeds exceeding 100 mph. The inflated airbag provides a cushion to prevent the driver or passenger from impacting the vehicle’s interior in a crash.

Multiple studies have shown that when airbags work properly, they save lives and prevent serious injuries. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that frontal airbags reduce driver fatalities in frontal crashes by 29%. They are an essential safety component for protecting vehicle occupants.

Why Airbags Fail to Deploy

There are two main types of airbag failure:

Failure to Deploy

This occurs when the airbag system fails to activate during an accident that warrants airbag deployment. This may be due to:

  • Faulty or damaged crash sensors
  • Electrical problems with wiring or connections
  • Defective control modules
  • Software errors

Unintended Deployment

Sometimes airbags deploy when they are not supposed to, such as in minor accidents or bumps. Unintended deployments may result from:

  • Overly sensitive crash sensors
  • Electrical system problems
  • Software glitches
  • Mechanical defects

Either type of failure – non-deployment when needed or deployment when not warranted – can leave occupants vulnerable to severe injuries in a crash.

Airbag Defects and Recalls

Like any complex automotive system, airbags are vulnerable to defects in design, manufacturing, and materials. Some airbags have been found prone to exploding too forcefully, sending shrapnel into vehicle occupants. Others may develop tears or leaks over time, causing them to underinflate in a crash.

When an airbag model or type is found to be dangerously defective, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) may order a recall and force manufacturers to fix the airbags free of charge. Major recalls over the years have affected vehicles from major brands such as Honda, Toyota, Ford, GM, Chrysler, and more.

Owners may not always know their vehicle’s airbag is under recall, making it vital to stay updated on recall notices for your specific make and model. Independent repair shops are prohibited from disabling airbags, so it is essential to get defective airbags replaced by the dealer if they are recalled.

Injuries Caused by Airbag Failures

When airbags fail, the consequences are often traumatic injuries or even death for drivers and passengers. Serious injuries known to be caused by airbag failures include:

  • Head and brain trauma
  • Facial fractures, lacerations and abrasions
  • Chest and rib injuries
  • Spinal cord damage, paralysis
  • Severe burns from explosions
  • Broken bones

These devastating injuries often require extensive medical treatment and result in permanent disability. Additionally, defective airbags can cause emotional trauma from a terrifying accident that was supposed to be made less dangerous by the airbag.

Legal Options if You Are Injured by Faulty Airbag in Nebraska

Drivers injured in Nebraska crashes directly attributable to airbag defects or failures may have legal options for pursuing compensation from the responsible parties. Two potential avenues for legal action include:

Product Liability Lawsuits

If a defective design, manufacturing defect, or negligence by the automaker resulted in the airbag failure, the driver may file a product liability lawsuit. This asserts the airbag system had an unacceptable defect that injured the occupant. Financial compensation can be sought for medical costs, lost income, pain and suffering, and other damages.

Breach of Warranty Claims

New cars come with warranties from the manufacturer promising the safety features will perform correctly. If an airbag failure violates these safety warranties, the automaker may be held liable for breach of warranty. However, warranty periods are often quite limited.

Pursuing an injury claim related to a malfunctioning airbag requires demonstrating that the airbag defects directly caused or worsened the accident injuries. An experienced Nebraska personal injury attorney can assess the claim details to determine valid legal grounds for recovery. They can also handle the litigation process to try to reach a fair settlement.

Don’t Trust Your Safety to a Faulty Airbag

Airbags provide vital crash protection, but only if they work properly. Drivers in Nebraska should be aware of the potential for airbag defects and failures in their vehicles. Keep up to date with recall notices that may indicate airbag problems. If you suspect your airbag may be defective, contact your dealer immediately – don’t wait until an accident happens.

No vehicle occupant should have to suffer severe injuries due to an airbag defect. If you or a loved one were harmed by a malfunctioning airbag in Nebraska, discuss your case with our experienced injury lawyers for a free review.

We have 32 offices across 19 states, including Nebraska, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee. Contact us today on (888) 477-0597 to explore your legal options for pursuing maximum compensation.