Several parties could share liability for car accident injuries. The driver who caused the accident could be liable for damages caused by the crash. However, the car company could be liable if a car defect contributed to the cause of the accident.

In some cases, the manufacturer of a car part could be liable if that car part were defective. If an airbag didn’t deploy in a car accident, the key to determining if any party could be liable for damages is to determine why the airbag didn’t deploy.

How Do Airbags Work in a Car Accident? 

Airbags are designed to inflate during a collision to reduce the risk of injury to the vehicle occupants. For instance, an airbag deploys from the steering wheel to prevent the driver from hitting the steering wheel, windshield, or dashboard. A side airbag deploys to prevent injury from the vehicle’s frame being pushed into the vehicle.

The airbag has a sensor that triggers inflation. A non-toxic gas fills the airbag causing it to inflate. Inflation of the airbag occurs in less than a second during a collision.

Why Would an Airbag Fail to Deploy in a Car Accident?

An airbag is a mechanical device that relies on many components to work correctly. It also relies on an electrical current to trigger the release of the gas to inflate the airbag. The failure of any one of the airbag’s components could result in a failure to deploy.

Common reasons why an airbag might not deploy include:

  • The speed and nature of the crash did not trigger the airbag sensor.
  • Some vehicles have sensors in the front passenger seat that prevents the airbag from deploying if the seat is empty or a person of small stature is sitting in the seat.
  • The driver turned off the passenger airbag.
  • An airbag might not have been replaced after it deployed.
  • The airbag or one of its components was defective.
  • The airbag was not correctly installed. 

If an airbag fails to deploy, the driver and passengers can be severely injured. The driver or front seat passenger could hit the dashboard or windshield, causing severe damage to the face, as well as whiplash, back injuries, and brain damage. The driver could sustain chest injuries and internal organ damage from hitting the steering wheel.

In some cases, an airbag can cause injuries when it deploys. Airbag injuries can include severe burns, lacerations from flying debris, and eye injuries. 

Who is Liable for Damages When an Airbag Fails to Deploy?

When an airbag fails to deploy when it should have deployed, the car company or the airbag manufacturer could be liable. Some airbags are defective. The airbag design creates a dangerous hazard, or an error during the manufacturing process causes a defect.

If the airbag itself is defective, the airbag manufacturer could be liable for damages caused by an airbag malfunction. Millions of defective airbags have been recalled because of a defect that could result in an injury. A product liability claim against the airbag manufacturer could be based on strict liability, negligence, or breach of warranty.

However, a car company could be liable if the company installed the airbag incorrectly. For example, the car company places the airbag wires in areas that can cause the wires to be severed, making it impossible for the airbag to deploy. 

The car company could also be liable if it fails to follow the airbag manufacturer’s specifications for installation if that action causes the airbag to deploy incorrectly or not at all.

Damages and Losses Caused by Defective or Malfunctioning Airbags

If an airbag caused your injury, you could be entitled to compensation for your damages. A product liability lawyer can determine whether the car company or another party is liable for your damages. Damages that might be included in your injury claim are:

  • Past and future medical bills and expenses
  • Past and future loss of salary, benefits, wages, and other sources of income
  • A decrease in your earning potential because of a permanent impairment
  • Scarring, disfigurement, and disabilities
  • Physical pain and suffering
  • Emotional distress and mental anguish
  • Other out-of-pocket expenses related to the injury

If you suspect that the airbag contributed to your car accident injuries, you need to maintain control of the airbag and its components. Do not allow the insurance company to take possession of the vehicle until you speak with a product liability lawyer. If possible, secure the car until you can reach an attorney for guidance.

Document your injuries by seeking immediate medical treatment. Keep copies of all documents and make notes each time you talk with someone about the accident or your injuries. It is generally not in your best interest to talk with an insurance adjuster until you speak with a lawyer about your case.