The airbags are one of the most important safety features in your vehicle. When they deploy correctly, they can save you from serious or even fatal injuries. Everyone deserves to have the peace of mind that comes from knowing your car is safe and functional, and working airbags are a critical component of that.
Unfortunately, malfunctions do happen on occasion. There are a number of missteps and mistakes that can happen during manufacturing that result in the airbags failing to deploy. In many cases, the manufacturer can be held liable for injuries that resulted from this problem. If you were recently in a car accident where the airbags didn’t deploy, you should understand the possible explanations for what went wrong.
When Airbags Should Deploy
Your car contains sensors that collect information during a crash and evaluate whether or not to deploy the airbags. The airbags aren’t meant to deploy during every single collision, so working sensors and wiring are key parts of the process.
In general, your car’s airbags should deploy during a moderate or severe collision. This is defined as a force equivalent to hitting a solid barrier at 8 to 14 miles per hour. During a front-end collision, the frontal air bags should deploy in a fraction of a second after the system’s control unit senses the crash and sends the signal to the inflator. If your car is struck from the side, the side air bags should deploy in a similar manner.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, frontal air bags are standard safety features in all passenger cars since 1998 and in all vans, pickups, and SUVs since 1999. Side airbags aren’t specifically mandated by law, but because vehicles are required to provide a certain amount of head and torso protection, almost all vehicles from 2014 and onward contain side airbags.
When Airbags Should Not Deploy
Airbags are a life-saving safety feature during a severe car accident, but they’re not meant to deploy during every single crash. For example, the airbags should never deploy during a collision when the vehicles are moving at less than 8 miles per hour. Between 8 and 14 miles per hour, the airbags might not deploy depending on the location of the impact. Frontal airbags also won’t deploy during a rollover accident or if your car is hit from the side.
In some cars, the frontal passenger airbags automatically turn off if the vehicle detects that a child is in the seat. The force from the airbag deploying can be very dangerous for children, so this may be a built-in safety feature in your car.
Why Wouldn’t the Airbags Deploy During a Major Collision?
Vehicles go through rigorous testing before being released on the market, but problems do arise on occasion. Sometimes, the collision is severe enough to warrant the airbags deploying, but the systems fails to inflate them. While defective airbags aren’t common, they can lead to serious consequences during a car accident. If the airbag is supposed to deploy for your safety and doesn’t, you could sustain major injuries.
One possible explanation for a failure to deploy is defective airbag sensors. Properly working sensors should detect when the motion or force of the crash warrants airbag deployment. However, if the sensors were improperly designed or installed, they may not detect the collision.
Electrical problems could result in failure to deploy, too. When there’s an issue with the wiring connecting the sensors to the airbags, the control unit may determine that the airbags are necessary, but the airbags never receive the signal to deploy. If only one airbag failed to deploy during the crash while the others inflated properly, this may be the most likely explanation.
Another possibility is that the wiring connecting the control system to the airbags was severed during the crash. This can happen if the manufacturer routed the wiring through areas that are particularly vulnerable during a front-end collision.
Lastly, the airbags may not deploy during an accident if they weren’t replaced after a previous crash. If you buy a used car, it’s important that you have the airbags checked to ensure that everything is in good working condition, especially if you bought the vehicle through a private sale.
When the airbags deploy correctly, they can save you from catastrophic injuries. If you were in a car accident and sustained injuries because the airbags didn’t deploy, you may be able to pursue legal action. The manufacturer could be at fault for the defective airbags, which may make you entitled to compensation for your medical bills and other expenses.
To learn more, get in touch with the attorneys at Shrager & Sachs today. Our experienced Philadelphia legal team is prepared to answer any questions you may have and let you know if you have a potential claim.