Dangers of Defective Airbags | Scartelli Olszewski, P.C.
defective airbags that have deployed

What’s So Dangerous About Defective Airbags?

Peter Olszewski
Peter Olszewski

In 2011, Takata airbags caused the largest automobile recall in history after discovering it was the cause of several deaths. When it was discovered that the airbags degrade in environments with high temperatures and humid environments, there was a recall of over 42 million vehicles worldwide. Even after the recall, there is still an estimated 14 million vehicles with defective airbags installed.

These defective airbags were exploding and projecting shrapnel, killing many drivers and maiming more. This is one of the most famous examples of defective airbags but there are plenty of other airbags that are defective in other ways, that injure, maim, and kill the passengers of their vehicles.

You should be aware of how defective airbags have hurt other people to make sure it doesn’t happen to you. If you or a loved one has suffered a defective airbag injury, you can trust the personal injury attorneys at Scartelli Olszewski, P.C. to help you get the compensation you deserve.

What is a Defective Airbag?

An airbag can be defective in many different ways. This means two defective airbags cause different injuries and have different causes for defection. To be a defective airbag, it must contain a defect that jeopardizes its function; an airbag’s function is to protect a vehicle’s occupant from hitting the vehicle’s interiors or anything outside the vehicle. This vague definition leaves many ways for an airbag to be defective.

A defective airbag can be one with a design defect, where it doesn’t work properly from the ideal state. An example would be an airbag that doesn’t go off because it’s meant for high-impact accidents that aren’t likely to happen. There are manufacturing defects where an error was made while it was being physically put together. An example of this would be an added material being put into an airbag by mistake, and exploding in a vehicle occupant’s face. This is what happened with the Takata airbags, which used ammonium nitrate.

Some examples of defective airbags include those that:

  • Fail to deploy
  • Deploy with more force than necessary
  • Fail to fully inflate
  • Have a faulty sensor (they trigger too late or trigger for no reason)
  • Are not fitted correctly into the vehicle (they get stuck, or don’t cover the vehicle’s occupant as needed)

What Makes Defective Airbags so Dangerous?

While it’s simple to understand why an airbag that shoots shrapnel is dangerous, some other defects aren’t so clear. An airbag that doesn’t deploy or doesn’t stop enough of the body from moving can lead to someone flying into a part of their car. It’s also not uncommon for the force of a crash to overcome the strength of a seatbelt and send someone flying through the windshield.

This can lead to all kinds of injuries, including death. Some commonplace ones include:

  • Blindness
  • Broken neck
  • Broken limbs
  • Burns
  • Eye injuries
  • Head trauma
  • Hearing loss
  • Paralyzation
  • Scarring and disfigurement
  • Traumatic brain injuries

The force of hitting something in the vehicle or the force of an airbag isn’t the only problem either. The contents of an airbag can cause injuries too. The chemicals in airbags–typically sodium hydroxide–can burn people who come into contact with it. These chemicals can also get into people’s eyes, injuring them and potentially causing blindness. This means that even if an airbag is performing as intended, it can still injure people beyond the initial accident.

What Should You Do If You Sustain a Defective Airbag Injury?

If you are in a car accident, and you sustain an injury from your defective airbag, the first thing you need to do is get yourself and your passengers to safety. Once you can do that, you need to get medical aid for yourself and your passengers. Only after you’re safe and your injuries have all been noted and accounted for, you should call an attorney. An attorney can’t help you if you don’t treat and diagnose your injuries.

Afterward, you can have your vehicle inspected to see what was wrong with your airbag. Once a mechanic identifies the airbags issue, contact the injury attorneys at Scartelli Olszewski, P.C. We can discuss and identify who should be held responsible for your defective airbag and the injuries it caused. We will work to get you the compensation you deserve.

Peter Olszewski
Peter Olszewski

Peter Paul Olszewski, Jr., a shareholder and managing partner at Scartelli Olszewski, P.C., brings 37 years of litigation experience. He is a renowned trial lawyer in Pennsylvania, specializing in medical malpractice, personal injury, and criminal defense. Peter's notable achievements include securing multi-million-dollar verdicts and serving as District Attorney and Judge. He is committed to community involvement and is actively engaged in various legal associations.
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