Why Didn’t My Airbags Deploy in My Car Accident?

Written By: The Champion Firm Team

Date Posted: 02.29.24

Category: Car Accident

When you’re involved in a car accident, your airbags are one of the first lines of defense against serious injuries. These sophisticated safety devices are designed to deploy in certain types of motor vehicle crashes to protect the occupants of the vehicle. However, there are instances when airbags don’t deploy during an accident.

As personal injury attorneys, we regularly help Georgia drivers who have been in serious motor vehicle accidents. One question we often hear is, “Why didn’t my airbags deploy 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.

At The Champion Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.C., PC, we understand the complexities surrounding car accidents and the role that airbag deployment can play in preventing severe injuries. Let’s explore some key reasons why airbags might not deploy in a car accident and what legal options you might have if you find yourself in such a situation.

Understanding How Airbags Work

To answer this question, we first need to first describe the three components of every airbag system in modern-day motor vehicles. 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 a car crash, these sensors will trigger the airbags to inflate.

If the vehicle’s computer sensors detect a possible car 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.

The main reasons an airbag doesn’t go off in a car accident:

There are several reasons why your airbags failed in a car crash, such as:

The Nature of the Collision

Airbags are designed to deploy in certain types of impacts. Generally, frontal and near-frontal collisions at moderate to high speeds will trigger the airbag system. If the accident involves a side impact, rear-end collision, or a low-speed bump, the airbags may not deploy because they might not be effective or necessary to prevent injury in these situations. Each vehicle has sensors that determine the type and severity of a collision, and if the sensors do not register an impact as severe enough, airbag deployment will not happen.

Airbag Sensor Issues

Sometimes, the issue with defective airbags lies with the airbag crash sensors themselves. Faulty, damaged, or improperly installed sensors may fail to detect a collision or incorrectly assess its severity, resulting in the airbags not deploying when they should. Sensor problems can be due to defects by the airbag manufacturer, failure to replace sensors after a previous accident, or even electrical issues within the vehicle.

Vehicle Design and Manufacturer Specifications

Airbag deployment thresholds can vary significantly from one vehicle model to another, based on the manufacturer’s design and safety specifications. Some vehicles are designed with a higher threshold for airbag deployment, which means the impact must be more severe for the airbags to deploy. Understanding the specific criteria set by the manufacturer for your vehicle can provide insights into why the airbags did not deploy in a particular incident.

System Maintenance and Recalls

Regular vehicle maintenance is crucial for ensuring all safety systems, including airbags, are functioning correctly. Sometimes, manufacturers issue recalls for airbag systems when a defect is discovered. If a vehicle owner neglects regular maintenance or fails to act on a recall notice, it could result in the airbags not deploying during an accident.

When an Airbag Fails, the Injuries Can Be Severe

When an airbag fails to deploy in a car accident, the occupants of the vehicle can be at a higher risk of sustaining serious injuries. Airbags are designed to work in conjunction with seat belts to significantly reduce the impact and severity of injuries to passengers during a severe accident. Airbag malfunction can result in a wide range of serious injuries, some of which can be severe or life-threatening. Below are common injuries that can result from the failure of an airbag to deploy during an accident:

Head Injuries

Without the cushioning effect of airbags, the driver and front-seat passengers are more susceptible to hitting the steering wheel, dashboard, or windshield. This can lead to traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), concussions, skull fractures, and lacerations.

Facial Injuries

Facial injuries, including fractures to the jaw, nose, cheekbones, and orbital bones, can occur when the face strikes the steering wheel, dashboard, or side windows. Such impacts can also result in serious dental injuries and disfigurement.

Chest Injuries

The lack of airbag deployment can result in severe chest trauma, as the body may collide with the steering wheel or dashboard. This can lead to broken ribs, sternum fractures, and injuries to internal organs, such as the lungs and heart.

Abdominal Injuries

High-speed impacts without the protection of airbags can cause abdominal injuries, including damage to internal organs like the liver, spleen, and kidneys. Such injuries may not be immediately apparent but can be life-threatening if not treated promptly.

Limb Injuries

The force of a collision without the protection of airbags can cause fractures, dislocations, and severe lacerations to the arms and legs. Occupants may instinctively brace for impact, leading to broken wrists, arms, or injuries to the lower extremities.

Spinal Cord Injuries

The violent forces exerted on the body during a crash can lead to spinal cord injuries, especially if the spine is twisted or bent unnaturally due to the lack of airbag deployment. These injuries can range from herniated discs to partial or complete paralysis.

Neck Injuries

The absence of airbag protection can result in whiplash or more severe neck injuries due to the sudden jerking motion of the head. This can cause strain or damage to the muscles, ligaments, and vertebrae in the neck.

How Safe Are Airbags?

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 seat belts remain the first line of defense in car crashes. 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 by paying for experts and court costs than you would actually get from a product liability case.

If you or a loved one suffered serious or life-threatening in a car accident during which your airbag failed, consult a lawyer to discuss your case and whether any party may hold legal liability for your injuries.

Injured in a Car Accident? Contact a Lawyer You Can Trust.

If your airbags did not deploy during a car accident and you suffered injuries as a result, you may have legal options. The Champion Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.C. PC specializes in personal injury cases in Georgia and can help you navigate the complexities of your situation. Our experienced team can investigate the cause of the non-deployment, including examining the vehicle’s design, maintenance history, and any potential manufacturing defects.

Holding manufacturers, maintenance personnel, or other parties accountable for their role in a malfunctioning safety system can be challenging, but it’s not something you have to face alone. If you or a loved one has been affected by an airbag deployment issue, contact The Champion Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.C. today. Our dedicated legal team is here to ensure you receive the compensation and justice you deserve for your injuries and losses.

Remember, your safety is paramount, and understanding your vehicle’s airbag system is a critical part of staying protected on the road. If you have concerns or questions about your legal rights following a car accident in Georgia, The Champion Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.C. PC is here to champion your cause.

If you have questions, including questions about why your airbags did not go off, contact an experienced car accident attorney at The Champion Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.C., P.C., for a free consultation.

The Champion Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.C. is a full-service personal injury law firm serving the greater Metro Atlanta area. Our award-winning team of Marietta personal injury attorneys specializes in car accidents, wrongful death, premises liability, and slip-and-fall cases. Learn more about our team here.

About the Author

The Champion Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.C. 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.