Understanding how defective airbags malfunction in motor vehicle accidents

Airbags deploy at phenomenal rates of speed, which may exceed 200 miles per hour. Given the enormous force generated by the speed of deployment, the timing of deployment of an airbag is critically important. Defective airbags in vehicles can malfunction in a variety of ways including:

  • Untimely deployment – too early or too late
  • Overly aggressive deployment
  • Failing to deploy at all

One of the most common situations where improper deployment of an airbag causes serious injury involves faulty timing. Because of the enormous force with which an airbag deploys, it is essential that the airbag be fully deployed before a vehicle occupant makes contact with the airbag. If the airbag deploys too early, the force of the impact can cause traumatic brain injuries, blindness and even fatalities. An airbag that deploys too late or not at all may provide limited or no protection.

Overly aggressive airbags can cause severe injuries including broken ribs, fractures limbs, head injuries and other significant catastrophic injuries. While airbags can offer critical protection in collisions at medium to high rates of speed, they are not intended to deploy at low rates of speed. When airbags deploy at low rates of speed, the airbag often will cause more severe injury than the motor vehicle collision.

Common faulty components in airbag systems

There are many types of product defects or situations that may cause vehicle occupants to suffer serious airbag injuries, such as:

  • Defective sensors that do not trigger the airbag at the proper time or at all
  • Failure to properly test airbags with crash tests
  • Inflators that cause the airbag to deploy with excessive force
  • Airbags with improper inflation paths that fill upward before filling outward

Posted in Products Liability

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