In an accident, you expect your airbags to help protect you. They expand rapidly, providing a cushion of air that will help prevent you from experiencing the full force of a crash—and, in many cases, preventing substantial injury. Unfortunately, auto manufacturers face investigations as airbags in a number of vehicles have failed to inflate in accidents, causing as many as eight deaths. When airbags fail to inflate properly, the car’s driver and passengers face a higher risk of injury.
What Vehicles Are Involved?
According to reports, several manufacturers’ vehicles suffer challenges related to airbag malfunctions. In the malfunction currently under investigation, excess, unwanted electrical signals produced by the crash disable the airbag unit. As a result, despite the speed and force of the crash, the airbags fail to inflate. The dangerous airbag control units all have their beginning in one creator: ZF-TRW.
Factories produced the ZF-TRW models beginning in 2010, and production of potentially defective models continued until the 2019 model year. So far, Hyundai, Kia, and Fiat Chrysler responded to the challenge by issuing recalls for relevant vehicles, allowing replacement of the airbags to provide better protection for their customers. Hyundai and Kia alone manufactured more than 1.1 million of the recalled vehicles. Other manufacturers continue to wait, though most have taken the ZF-TRW parts out of production.
The problem has the potential to affect as many as 12 million vehicles—an incredible number of potential victims who could suffer more severe injuries or even face death in an auto accident due to the manufacturer’s negligence.
Unfortunately, some vehicle manufacturers have needed more evidence to begin a recall or decide what steps to take next. As a result, many more victims have suffered serious injuries. Notes Jason Levine, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety:
“A single supplier of an important safety component provided what appears to be a defective part across multiple manufacturers and 12 million cars. While the first fatality reports emerged three years ago, it has taken a higher body count for more significant action to be taken by NHTSA and most impacted manufacturers remain silent. The industry needs to do better.”
Unfortunately, the industry has yet to step up to the plate and, as Levine suggests, do better. In the meantime, consumers face serious injuries from airbags that fail to inflate on command—just as they faced significant potential injury from Takata airbags several years ago. The Takata device exploded with excessive force, causing shrapnel to fire out into vehicle drivers and passengers. These defective airbags caused at least 24 deaths and more than 200 injuries.
What Should You Do if Your Airbags Malfunction?
Did you miss a recall on your vehicle? Fail to note the potential problems with your airbag? If your airbags failed to inflate properly in a crash, you may have suffered more serious injuries than you would have experienced if the airbag had done its job. Make sure you know how to respond after a malfunctioning airbag causes problems for you.
Seek Medical Attention Immediately
Whether you suffered injuries due to an airbag inflating unexpectedly or with excessive force, or you suffered increased injuries during an accident because your airbag failed to inflate, you need medical attention immediately. Summon an ambulance to the scene of the accident or proceed to the hospital as soon as possible.
As you seek medical attention, make sure to keep track of all your records: X-rays, scans, and bills. Set aside a file just for that information. This process can help you keep track of your injuries and expenses related to the malfunctioning airbags, which can in turn ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve.
Record What Caused Your Injuries
If you suffered injuries due to a defective airbag, make a note of what caused them. You may need pictures of the vehicle following the accident: airbags missing from the accident pictures in spite of the force of the crash and damage to the vehicle, for example. Make note of how the lack of airbag support increased your injuries. Testimony from the police officers at the scene, who can help show that airbags did not inflate, and from your doctors, who can testify about the injuries caused by un-inflated airbags, can also help build your case and provide solid evidence concerning the cause of your injuries.
Notify Your Insurance Company
Any time you have an accident or problem with your vehicle, you should notify your insurance company as soon as possible. Make sure the insurance company knows what happened with your vehicle and what type of insurance you suffered. Depending on the type of insurance you carry, the insurance company may help repair or replace your vehicle.
Contact a Lawyer
After a serious injury due to malfunctioning airbags, you may need a lawyer to help you seek compensation. The sooner you contact a lawyer, the sooner he can start working on your behalf. That may make it easier to collect evidence, build your case, and go after the compensation you deserve. In many cases, a lawyer can help get that compensation in your hands sooner, which can make it easier for you to pay for medical bills and other expenses associated with your injuries.
Do You Need a Lawyer to Help Handle Your Airbag Malfunction Case?
Did you suffer serious injuries due to defective airbags? When airbags malfunction, you may find yourself dealing with a complicated legal claims process in addition to treatment, rehabilitation, and recovery from your injuries. If you need more information or help with your case, a personal injury lawyer with experience in product liability can help.
About the Author
The Champion Firm is a full-service personal injury law firm serving the greater Metro Atlanta area. Our award-winning team of attorneys specializes in car accidents, wrongful death, premises liability, and slip-and-fall cases. Learn more about our team here.