Defective Airbags Danger: Legal Insights

The Danger of Defective Airbags

Rachel Olszewski
Rachel Olszewski

What Are Defective Airbags?

During a traffic crash a vehicle’s airbags can deploy at an extremely high speed. While airbags are designed to save lives and prevent injuries, they may also be the cause of some injuries to drivers and passengers during a crash. As of 2017, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that 50,000 lives have been saved by frontal airbags. Meanwhile, NHTSA estimates from 1990 to 2008, more than 290 deaths were caused by frontal airbags in low-speed crashes.

Airbags made by the major parts supplier, Takata, are the leading cause of recalls in the airbag industry. Takata has been used by 19 different automakers over the last decade. Vehicles dating back to 2002 through 2015 have been recalled for defective airbags – NHTSA calling it, “the largest and most complex safety recall in U.S. history.”

Airbags: How Do They Work?

Airbags are made from light fabric. On the driver’s side, the airbag is placed in the steering wheel, while on the passenger’s side, it is placed behind a panel on the dashboard. The size of both sides’ airbags can differ. The driver’s airbag is typically the size of a beach ball, while the passenger’s airbag can be much larger in size as the dashboard is farther away from the passenger versus the driver’s side.

There are some issues that can arise when an airbag deploys. Let’s take a look at a few examples:

  • The sensor may malfunction and deploy the airbag at the wrong time
  • The sensor might not deploy the airbag at all during a crash
  • The sensor might deploy one airbag, but not the other
  • It may deploy too late

What To Do During an Airbag Malfunction

First and foremost, if you are a victim of a malfunctioned airbag, preserve all of the evidence related to the airbag. Do not lose or discard any related parts (airbag, crash sensor, etc.). These parts will be a crucial part to adding evidence for your case. If the vehicle is declared to be a total loss after the crash by your insurance company, it may be difficult for you to attain that vehicle. It is in your best interest to work with your insurance company and attorney on attaining your vehicle for a potential case.

Dealing With Defective Airbags – Staying Safe

  • Always wear your seatbelt
  • Sit as far back from the center of the steering wheel as possible
  • Adjust your steering wheel for optimal safety
  • NHTSA recommends keeping a 10-inch minimum space between the center of the steering wheel for divers and the dashboard for the front passenger
  • Keep children in the backseat, restrained in a car seat or seatbelt at all times

Contact Us

Defective airbags can occur to anyone, but knowing these safety tips about airbags will help you be more cautious down the road as both a driver and passenger. If you or a loved one has been the victim of a crash related to airbags or defective airbags, contact our team of attorneys at Scartelli Olszewski, P.C. today for a free consultation.


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Rachel Olszewski
Rachel Olszewski

Rachel D. Olszewski, an attorney at Scartelli Olszewski, P.C., is a dedicated advocate for clients who have suffered unjust harm. Following the legacy of her esteemed family members, Rachel specializes in personal injury, medical malpractice, and criminal defense. She is actively involved in professional associations and serves on the board of the Luzerne County Bar Association Charitable Foundation. Rachel is admitted to practice in Pennsylvania state courts and the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.
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