Although air bags are intended as a safety device, government documentation confirms they have killed hundreds of people and caused significant trauma, such as head injuries, traumatic brain injuries (TBI), paralysis, face injuries, eye injuries, blindness, neck injuries, vertebral fractures, spinal cord injuries, paralysis, chest injuries, heart injuries, internal injuries, bone fractures, and even death.
You may not realize it, but air bags deploy at speeds sometimes exceeding 200 mph. Many consumers experiencing an air bag deployment have indicated that the air bag appeared to explode, and have compared the sound to a shotgun blast.
I’ve investigated air bag defects, problems and malfunctions in all types of vehicles, including models from Acura, BMW, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Dodge, Ford, General Motors (GM), GMC, Honda, Hyundai, Jaguar, Jeep, Kia, Lincoln, Mazda, Mercedes Benz, Mercury, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Oldsmobile, Plymouth, Pontiac, Porsche, Saturn, Toyota, and Volkswagen (VW).
When questioning an air bag’s performance during an accident, there are three critical questions you should analyze before determining its role in contributing to serious injuries or a wrongful death.
Should the air bag have deployed?
When an airbag should deploy depends on many different factors, including your type of airbag. If the airbag did not deploy, and should have, you may have a “failure to deploy” or “non-deployment” case. In such a situation, the air bag would have deployed if the air bag crash sensor or other components had not failed.
Failure of a crash sensor (or the wires connecting a crash sensor to the electronic control unit) often cause the air bag to not deploy. Sometimes air bags don’t deploy because the car company did not conduct adequate crash tests when designing the air bags.
For example, many airbag systems sold to consumers were never tested in car-to-car crash tests, even though such crashes occur every day. We often see air bag failures in crashes involving trees or utility poles.
If the passenger air bag deployed, but the driver air bag did not deploy, the vehicle may contain a defective “clockspring” or coil. A clockspring is an electrical device installed in the steering column beneath the driver air bag. Its function is to transmit an electrical current to deploy the driver air bag. Several defects have been identified in clocksprings, including design defects, inadequate testing, improper installation and improper adjustment – all of which have led to driver air bag failures.
In some cases, a passenger air bag will not deploy even though the driver air bag deployed and a passenger was sitting in the seat. This could occur when the advanced air bags (now widely used in new cars) fail to detect the passenger with their passenger presence detection sensor.
If the air bag deployed, but should not have deployed, you may have an “inadvertent” or unwarranted low-speed deployment. Inadvertent deployments can occur even if the vehicle was not involved in an accident and are often caused by air bag sensor or other electrical system defects. In some cases, even a minor action such as a turning your key in the ignition can trigger air bag deployment.
Some manufacturers used inappropriate sensor combinations that are overly susceptible to low-speed, localized impacts. Other manufacturers used inappropriate sensors and/or test programs that allowed air bags to deploy even when the vehicle struck a pothole or curb.
Did the air bag deploy late?
In a late deployment case, the air bag deploys later than it should, allowing a person to move toward the air bag (sometimes called “out-of-position”). The extreme force from an air bag at close range can cause catastrophic injuries. Late deployments often occur in minor accidents and collisions that differ from the manufacturers’ crash testing.
At least one manufacturer implemented an electrical device in an attempt to fix another problem, but which caused late deployments under certain accident circumstances.
Often, such late deployments can be prevented using additional sensors and/or changes to the algorithms of electronic sensors. In some cases, the vehicle’s “black box” can confirm that a late deployment took place. The airbag system’s black box is also sometimes called the SDM (Sensing and Diagnostic Module), DERM (Diagnostic and Energy Reserve Module), RCM (Restraints Control Module), EDR (Event Data Recorder), or ECU (Electronic Control Unit).
Did the air bag have specific safety features?
Because air bags can deploy at speeds of more than 200 mph, they should include certain safety features to reduce the risk of injury during deployment.
When investigating this type of potential case, we determine whether your air bag system performed as intended and if it included safety features such as air bag inflaters that inflate less forcefully, tethers that significantly reduce “bag slap” injuries, and vents that decrease pressure inside the air bag. We also investigate the possibility that manufacturing defects and quality control problems caused or contributed to your injuries.
In addition to safety features, the air bag system must also work together with the other parts of the car. For example, air bag crash sensors depend on the vehicle having a good structure or frame so the signal is received soon enough to avoid a late deployment. Also, the instrument panel (I/P) or “dash” needs to be designed so that the knees and legs are not injured, while keeping the body properly positioned. And, when the air bag deploys, it must not create additional hazards for other components. For example, some air bags are known to shatter the dash and send the pieces flying toward the passengers at high speeds. michael kors sales on bags