Airbags can be, and too often are, an unnecessary source of serious injury or even death in many automobile accidents today. Believe it or not, the soft, pillow-like airbag deployments you see on TV commercials, is really a great exaggeration achieved by the assistance of slow motion video and other production effects. In fact, airbags deploy in a violent explosion at speeds of over 200 mph.
Overly aggressive airbags, which blind or seriously injure innocent occupants, are the result of a breakdown in quality assurance and safety engineering. All too often, the rush to market is made with a trade-off in passenger safety. Manufacturers can and must be held accountable for these decisions. If you or a loved one has been seriously injured in an accident where the airbag failed to deploy, deployed too aggressively, or deployed with projectiles from foreign objects, you should consult an attorney right away as any of these cases could be the result of a design or manufacturing defect.
Dating back as far as the 1950s, U.S. Patents have been issued for various types of inflatable, passive restraint systems, which collectively we refer to today as “airbags”. Ford Motor Company and General Motors both deployed airbags within a portion of their fleet as early as the 1970s. This technology was the first true generation of airbag safety. Though many manufacturers today still insist that the first generation wasn’t available until 1980, a search of patent records at the USPTO tells the truth.
This true first generation of airbag technology was actually, in many ways, a superior safety choice for all consumers. By utilizing adjustable inflators, first generation airbags were able to avoid overly aggressive deployments and in some instances could even theoretically be “right-sized” for the weight and size of the occupant. That this first-generation airbag technology, a great advance in passenger safety, was not refined and developed during the 1980s is a sad testament to the truth that all too often, manufacturers believe safety isn’t a selling point. The true second generation of airbag technology, or first “full fleet” generation of airbags, was a decided step in the wrong direction.
Sadly, many of the predictions made by safety engineers concerning the faulty design of this generation of airbags proved true. These engineers had studied the technology and were convinced it could lead to foreseeable injuries to occupants. Who can forget the many awful stories of child injury or death as a result of airbag technology in the early 1990s? Many small statured women were blinded, disfigured, or worse by second generation airbags as well. By holding the manufacturers responsible for concealing much of this information from the consuming public, airbag attorneys fighting to protect the victims of second generation design helped make sure manufacturers learned a hard lesson: safety comes first.
Today’s Airbag Safety
We have moved into a true third generation of airbag technology today, sometimes referred to as “smart airbag technology” or “smart bag design”. The advances in smart bags range from the trivial, internal straps that hold the airbag back from deploying too close to one’s face called a “tether”, to the complex, rollover bags which protect occupants and even assist in preventing occupant ejection during a vehicle rollover, and all manner of advances in between. While it is true that today’s airbags are decidedly safer than the generation designed in the 80s and 90s, it is also true that with every advance comes a trade-off. Very often that trade-off is still made with a view towards profit instead of safety first. Our law office has been involved in numerous airbag related cases against auto manufacturers. We possess the experience, knowledge, and skill necessary to help you hold manufacturers accountable when they put money over people.
How do you know if an airbag defect is involved?
It isn’t easy. Many times collisions that look severe enough to trigger an airbag, upon closer examination, are not. But there are certain things one may readily observe to help them determine whether legal assistance may be necessary. If you or someone you know has been involved in an accident with any of the below signs, we urge you to consider contacting an attorney right away as the injuries could have been caused by defective airbag design.
- If one airbag deploys and the other does not, that might indicate a problem with the sensor, inflator, or other potential defect. This can be quickly investigated by an airbag attorney at the Law Office of D. Hardison Wood.
- If an occupant is blinded or suffers severe head trauma during the deployment of an airbag, it could be the result of an overly aggressive airbag design. Our attorneys can assist you in determining whether this is the case.
- If you’re involved in a serious collision, and the airbag fails to deploy, it might be because one of the sensors failed. Determining this though includes calculating the exact forces involved, and the principal direction of those forces. The Law Office of D. Hardison Wood is uniquely equipped to quickly analyze the data from your crash and investigate a potential failure of the airbag system.