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Defective Airbag Injury Lawsuits in California
From 1987 to 2012, frontal airbags have saved the lives of nearly 40,000 Americans. That’s enough people to fill AT&T Park in San Francisco almost to capacity. Of the more than 224 million cars and light trucks on United States roads, more than 163 million have driver airbags and an additional 144 million of these also have passenger airbags.
Although airbags have dramatically improved driver and passenger safety overall, defective airbags have been responsible for serious and sometimes fatal injuries to consumers. Common airbag injuries include airbag burns, broken bones, traumatic brain injury, vision or hearing loss, decapitation, and other serious injuries to the head, torso and arms.
If you or a loved one was injured due to a faulty airbag, you should understand the legal rights that every California consumer has. This post provides a basic introduction to defective airbag lawsuits in California. First, we discuss common causes of airbag defects that have lead to serious injuries in the past. Then, we give an overview of products liability lawsuits. Finally, we explain how an experienced airbag defect lawyer can help you after an accident involving a faulty airbag.
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Why Do Some Airbags Fail?
Airbags can malfunction in a number of different ways. In some car accidents, airbags fail to deploy properly. For example, a frontal airbag might deploy too late (or not at all) in a car accident that occurs at a moderate speed. In a low-speed crash, airbags may deploy too forcefully, injuring passengers more seriously than had they not deployed at all. In some serious accidents, airbags may not deploy at all.
There are a variety of defects that might be responsible for these types of mistakes, including:
- Crash sensors that are improperly installed or malfunctioning
- Airbag inflators that are overpowered or underpowered
- Airbags that are untethered
- Failure of engine control unit (or “ECU”) software
- Outdated airbag or crash sensor technology
These types of issues may be caused by a design flaw, a mistake that occurred during the manufacturing process, a problem with the way in which the manufacturer installed the airbag or corresponding part, or a failure by the manufacturer to provide adequate instructions or warnings in the vehicle’s manual about the airbag.
What is a Product Liability Lawsuit?
In California, “product liability law” is a set of legal rules about who is financially responsible for injuries to consumers that are caused by dangerous or defective products. A product liability lawsuit is different from a standard personal injury lawsuit. In some ways, it is easier for someone who is injured by a dangerous product to recover financial compensation for their injuries and other losses than it is for a person who is injured by the ordinary negligence of another person.
Who is Responsible for a Defective Airbag Injury?
Under California law, all parties within the “chain of distribution” for an airbag might be legally responsible (or “liable”) for injuries from a faulty airbag. This includes:
- The manufacturer of the airbag
- The manufacturer of component parts related to the airbag
- The manufacturer of the vehicle in which the airbag was installed
- A party that assembled or installed the airbag or related component parts
- A company that distributed cars with the airbag to local dealerships
- The dealership that sold you your car
Types of Product Defects
In a fault airbag lawsuit, the injured person must prove that the airbag (or component part) that caused his or her injury was defective, and that the defect made the airbag unreasonably dangerous. If the injured person can prove this, then some or all the parties along the “chain of distribution” may be strictly liable for the injuries caused as a result of the faulty airbag. There are three types of product defects under California law.
- Design Defects. A design defect is a defect that is present in the product from its inception, even before it is manufactured. In a faulty airbag lawsuit based on a design defect, your lawyer will prove that something about the way the airbag or component part was designed made the airbag inherently unsafe. A design defect typically affects all products in a particular line of products.
- Manufacturing Defects. A manufacturing defect involves a flaw in the way a product is assembled or manufactured. A manufacturing defect may affect all products in a particular line of products or only some of the products.
- Marketing Defects. A marketing defect arises when a manufacturer fails to give proper instructions or safety warnings. A manufacturer also may be liable under this theory if it markets a product in such a way that causes a consumer to use the product in an unsafe manner.
If you can establish that one of these types of product defects caused your injuries, you may be entitled to financial compensation for the harms you suffered as a result of your faulty airbag accident. This compensation may take into account the costs of your medical bills, the pain and suffering you endured as a result of your injuries, time spent away from work, and damage to your car and other property. An experienced California product liability lawyer can help you understand how much your faulty airbag case is worth.
How Can a California Airbag Lawsuit Lawyer Help?
If you were hurt as a result of a defective airbag, you should speak to an experienced airbag lawsuit attorney right away. An accident involving a faulty airbag is a devastating, life-altering experience that nobody prepares for. A lawyer will help you gather the evidence you need to secure the compensation you deserve, and will handle all aspects of your faulty airbag lawsuit. This will allow you to focus on recovering from your injuries and returning to the life you enjoyed prior to the accident.
Auto manufacturers are represented by some of the largest and most powerful civil defense firms in the country. When choosing a lawyer, be sure to select someone at a firm with a track record of securing large settlements and verdicts on behalf of their injured clients. You deserve to be fully compensated for all of the harm you suffered as a result of a faulty airbag.