There’s a certain formula for legal claims involving many car accident cases. You file a suit against the person who caused the accident or their insurance provider, and accept a settlement offer or take the matter to court.

There are times, though, when things get a bit more complicated. 

A good example is an airbag either failing to deploy during an accident or deploying prematurely. The resulting injuries caused by the airbag are often more severe than if the airbag were functioning properly.

What Damages Can I Recover?

If you experience injuries because your airbag failed to deploy or used too much force in its deployment, you may be able to hold the makers of the vehicle and the airbag liable.

Working with your personal injury lawyer, you could recover costs to take care of your:

  • Medical bills already received and associated costs for future treatment
  • Lost wages or a reduced ability to earn a living
  • Pain and suffering.

In cases like this, punitive damages may also be on the table. Although there’s normally a limit on what can be awarded in a personal injury case, punitive damages – which are intended to punish the responsible person for extreme negligence – can put you over that limit. 

Why Do Some Airbags Fail?

Even though they may seem simplistic, airbags are actually complex systems that can fail. 

  • Defective electrical components can lead to the airbag in your car not getting the signals it needs to deploy in the event of a crash. 
  • Some manufacturers place the airbag wiring in areas that can lead to it being easily severed in a crash, making it impossible for the airbag to receive crash signals.
  • Defective sensors can make an airbag virtually useless. 

In a stunning example of defective sensors, a report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) revealed that as many 12.3 million cars in the U.S. have brands of airbags that may not deploy during a crash for that reason. 

The airbags in question are produced by auto parts supplier ZF-TRW and installed in a wide range of vehicles including Honda, Hyundai, Kia, Toyota, Mitsubishi and Fit Chrysler in model-year cars from 2010-2019. 

So far, those particular airbags have led to at least eight deaths. 

Between the years 1990 and 2007, almost 300 people died because their airbags either failed to deploy altogether or did not operate as they should. 

In 2019, Honda recalled 1.6 million vehicles made by Takata after their airbags had reportedly caused at least 14 deaths and hundreds of injuries.

What Are Common Injuries From Airbag Malfunctions?

Because of their proximity to your face and torso, injuries from an airbag malfunction can be severe. 

  • Face and eye injuries. Because your face is usually the first body part to make contact with the airbag, broken noses and cheekbones as well as facial scarring and eye socket damage are common.

  • Chest and torso damage. In addition to your rib cage and sternum, other torso parts made vulnerable by an airbag malfunction include whiplash, spinal cord damage, and herniated discs.

  • Injuries to your limbs. Since there’s so little room for your legs in an average car, it’s common for the legs of drivers and passengers to be caught underneath the dashboard. Our arms are vulnerable to injury because of the instinctive response to brace ourselves for impact.

  • Internal injuries. Whether you’ve experienced broken ribs or a punctured organ (liver, lungs, pancreas, blood vessels, etc.), such injuries can take a while to reveal themselves.

Since symptoms from car accident injuries– minor or major – can sometimes take days to appear, you need an examination from a licensed doctor as soon as possible following the incident.

What Should I Do After An Airbag Malfunction?

For a personal injury case that involves a defective product, evidence is everything. With that in mind, do all you can to preserve any record and piece of evidence – no matter how small you may think an item is.

This includes:

  • Saving the airbag itself (to do this, make sure you retain possession of the car rather than letting an insurance adjustor “total it” and have it hauled away)
  • Copies of the police report and records of all medical treatment.

Then, get in touch with a Texas personal injury lawyer who has successful experience in taking on – and winning against – big corporations.