Airbag Injury

How to File A Personal Injury Claim for an Airbag Injury

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Airbag deployment saved the lives of 50,457 American drivers between 1987 and 2017, according to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) report. Airbags also reduce driver deaths after head-on collisions by 29%, based on NHTSA estimates. 

Unfortunately, airbags have a downside. Between 1990 and 2008, there were 146 reported airbag-related deaths in the U.S. Between 2014 and 2021, car manufacturers recalled at least 41 million vehicles suspected to have defective airbag inflators. 

While it is clear that airbags can and do save lives, malfunctioning ones also cause injury and death. So, can you get compensated for airbag injuries if something goes wrong? In most cases, the answer is yes if you file a personal injury claim. 

Understanding Airbag Injuries

It is crucial to understand the type of injuries airbags cause. Airbags typically sit within a car’s steering wheel and in the dashboard across the passenger seat. Newer cars also have side and rear airbags. 

Airbags consist of a lightweight fabric and work according to a sensor. If the sensor detects an impact, it sets off an igniter. The igniter pumps the airbag full of gas, causing it to expand and deploy. 

This process takes a twentieth of a second, and the deployment is often unexpectedly forceful. This means that while the deployed airbag is supposed to cushion you from head injuries during a collision, it can injure you through sheer force. 

An airbag can also cause you harm by not deploying at all. If the sensor malfunctions during a head-on collision, the airbag will likely not expand. This means the impact will throw you against the solid surface of your car. This can lead to facial or head injuries. 

Moreover, if the airbag is faulty and leaks some of its gas during deployment, you can suffer respiratory issues. There have even been instances where shrapnel from the propellant canister flew from the airbag, hitting those inside the car. 

Types of Airbag Injuries

Deployed airbags can cause several severe injuries. In addition to facial and head injuries, you may sustain injuries to your eyes. If the force of the airbag is strong enough, it can even lead to temporary blindness.

If the airbag hits you in the chest, it can bruise your heart and break your ribs. If you try to pull the bag away, you may suffer burns to your hands, arms, and face from the chemically saturated airbag fabric. 

Other airbag injuries include traumatic brain injuries, ear trauma, internal bleeding, and injury to fetuses in pregnant women. 

Determining Liability After an Airbag Injury

If you sustain any one or more of these injuries due to an airbag deployment, you may have grounds to file a personal injury case. There are two main scenarios to consider before you hire a lawyer for your case.

  • Were you in a car accident caused by another driver? If you were injured because your airbags deployed during an accident caused by another driver, you can file a claim against their insurance company. 
  • Was your airbag defective? Were you happily driving along to work or home when your airbag malfunctioned and deployed, injuring you? In this case, you can file a product liability claim against the vehicle or parts supplier. 

Proving the Cause of Harm

If you want to file a claim against another driver’s insurance company, you must prove that the driver caused the accident. You can do this by gathering evidence at the accident scene.

For example, you can take photos of the damage to both cars. Take pictures of your steering wheel if your airbag did not deploy and you suffered injuries. Similarly, take photos of a deployed airbag if it led to injuries because of a malfunction. 

You should also gather reports from eyewitnesses on the scene of the accident. Your lawyer can use this information to build a case to present to the insurance company. 

Lawyers also use eyewitness reports when airbags malfunction in the absence of a collision. So, if people saw you driving along when your airbags suddenly deployed and injured you, their statements will go a long way in helping your case. 

You will have to keep copies of all medical records related to your airbag injury. These records will include details of your initial visit to the ER, the doctor’s report, and your treatment options. 

Your lawyer will ask you to get a copy of the police report if your airbag injury happened because of a car accident. You should also provide a quote for vehicle repair estimates and proof of lost income if relevant to your case. 

Gathering evidence that proves an airbag caused you harm, whether during an accident or because of a malfunction, is critical if you want to win your personal injury case. 

The Personal Injury Claim Process

When you have all the evidence you need, your lawyer will review your case. Your lawyer will investigate the case and gather more evidence if need be. 

Your lawyer will also handle all communication with the liable party’s insurance company, where applicable. If you are filing your claim against a vehicle manufacturer or parts supplier, your lawyer will lead here, too.

In both cases, your lawyer will negotiate a fair settlement based on your injuries and expenses. If you cannot agree on a settlement, you can file a personal injury case. If you agree on a settlement, you will receive compensation for your injuries and damages. 

Most personal injury claims are settled out of court through negotiation with insurance companies. This is often less stressful, and compensation is paid faster. However, if the insurance company refuses to budge in your case, do not accept an unfair settlement. Let your lawyer file a lawsuit instead. 

While a trial can take months and become exhausting, it is worth pursuing compensation to make up for your losses.

Moving Forward After an Airbag Injury 

Airbag injuries are often traumatic and severe. If you have been injured by a malfunctioning airbag or because the airbag did not deploy, you deserve compensation. 

Allow your lawyer to guide you through the legal process of a personal injury claim and support you during your court trial (if it comes to that). This is the best way to get to the other side of this life-altering experience and move forward with your life. 

Also Read: Are You Ready to File a Lawsuit? Checklist for Personal Injury Claims



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