When we get in our vehicles, we rarely think about the fact that there are airbags ready to deploy if we have a collision. It is only after we have a serious crash that we typically notice their presence. Sadly, for many drivers and vehicle occupants, the very devices designed to protect us can actually cause us great harm.
Airbags started becoming common features in vehicles beginning in the late 1980s, though their use goes back to the 1970s. By 1998, the U.S. government mandated the inclusion of frontal airbags on all passenger vehicles. Initially, many of the concerns over airbag safety were centered on the force of airbag deployment and its impact on children and smaller occupants. More recently, concerns have stemmed from faulty airbag parts and the terrible injuries they can cause occupants.
The defective airbag injury attorneys at Guajardo & Marks have built a practice that is skilled and experienced in cases involving automotive product liability. Though these cases can be incredibly complex, we have been successful in pursuing compensation for clients that have been injured due to the negligence of vehicles and their many parts.
The biggest example of faulty airbags is Takata-manufactured airbags, which led to a massive upheaval in the automotive world and prompted the recall of millions of vehicles. Within about a year of the initial announcements about the hazardous Takata airbags, it was discovered that around 100 million vehicles contained airbag inflators that needed to be replaced.
Faulty airbags can – and do – cause serious injuries to occupants of vehicles. In the case of Takata’s airbags, ruptured airbag inflators caused small metal pieces to become dangerous projectiles. These tiny explosions are estimated to have caused 100 injuries and 10 deaths in the United States.
Failure to Deploy
While recent attention has been given to the damage caused by airbags, it can also be the case that an airbag’s failure to deploy can also cause a person serious injury or death. When the Kansas City Star examined the problem, they found that from 2001 to 2006 around 1,400 deaths occurred in frontal crashes when the frontal airbag failed to deploy.
One federal data review found that between 2003 and 2012, two General Motor model vehicles that had already been subjected to a recall due to a faulty ignition switch, also had airbags that failed to deploy, potentially causing over 300 deaths. One of the most concerning aspects of this particular case is that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, according to a watchdog agency, missed the defective airbags altogether. This potential oversight is unsettling to all drivers, since we depend not only on the safety of our vehicles but also on the diligence of regulators to identify and address problems when they occur.
Negligence of Manufacturers
It is often the case that faulty vehicle parts are the result of hasty and profit-driven decisions on part of the manufacturers. For example, Honda had received multiple red flags about the dangers of airbags in their vehicles starting in 2004, actually settling many financial claims with victims of these faulty airbags before finally recalling the vehicles in late 2008, as reported by the New York Times. The tendency of companies to be reluctant to take action when their products cause people harm highlights the danger that all consumers face, and the need for action by those who are supposed to provide oversight in the industry.
Consequences of Defective Airbags
When an airbag causes harm to occupants of vehicles, the injuries can be severe and, in some case, fatal. These injuries include, but are not limited to:
If you or a loved one has been injured by a faulty airbag, the defective airbag injury attorneys at Guajardo & Marks can help. We will fight for you to pursue compensation to cover the costs of your injuries and make sure that those responsible are held accountable for the damages you have suffered. We offer free consultations and earn no fee unless we win. Contact us today to learn more.