As personal injury attorneys, we regularly help Georgia drivers who have been in serious automobile accidents. One question we often hear is, “Why didn’t my airbag go off during my accident?” People may wonder why their airbags didn’t inflate and if their injuries would have been less severe had the airbags deployed.
To answer this question, we need to first describe the three components in every vehicle’s airbag system. The first part is the actual airbag itself, which is a nylon balloon capable of inflating in an instant. Second, there is the inflation system that inflates the airbag and fills it with safety chemicals. Third, there are highly sensitive computer sensors all over the vehicle that analyze data. In an auto accident, these sensors will trigger the airbags to inflate.
If the vehicle’s computer sensors detect a possible collision, the computer will immediately check the acceleration monitors and door pressure sensors. If needed, the sensing and diagnostic module (SDM) will arm and deploy the airbags. This whole process typically takes about 8-40 milliseconds after the impact.
Three main reasons that an airbag doesn’t go off in a car accident:
The impact of the collision was not forceful enough to trigger the sensors to action. The vehicle’s computer sensors will cause the airbags to release only if the vehicle rapidly slowed down or if the sensors detect pressure against parts of the vehicle.
The impact didn’t happen near the computer sensors. Most sensors are in the front and side of an automobile. Sometimes, even a substantial hit to the rear of the vehicle may not cause the sensors to make the bags inflate. The Champion Firm frequently represents clients in serious rear-end car accidents where the airbags did not deploy.
One or more parts of the vehicle’s airbag system are defective. Newer model vehicles have dashboard lights to indicate airbag sensor problems. If this happens, make sure you take your car to a professional. Diagnosing and fixing an airbag issue is a complex undertaking.
The airbags in our vehicles are safer and more effective than the original systems that manufacturers installed in the 1980s and 1990s. Some current airbag systems can even protect people inside an automobile involved in a rollover accident. Even with these advances, it is important to remember that the seatbelt remains the first line of defense in a motor vehicle accident. Airbags are not a safety substitute, but rather, a safety supplement.
If you have a car accident and your airbags don’t deploy, that doesn’t necessarily mean your car was defective or that you have a product liability claim against the car manufacturer. For Georgia product liability cases, the injured party must prove that the defect caused their injuries, and these cases typically involve expensive experts and court costs. This means that even minor injuries resulting from an airbag failure may not be worth pursuing because it may cost more money to prove the case in paying for experts and court costs than you would actually get from a product liability case.
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.