Airbags save a lot of lives: good. Millions of airbags have been recalled in the last 20+ years: bad. Which vehicle models are affected? That’s what you need to know.
While airbags have saved the lives of more than 50,000 people since automakers started developing them for commercial vehicles in the 1970s, they can also cause injuries or deaths, with recalls due to airbag problems affecting more than 42 million vehicles in the United States.
At Wade & Nysather AZ Accident Attorneys, we want you to have as much information as possible, so read on for the good, the bad, and everything else you need to know about airbags.
If you were injured by airbags in an accident that wasn’t your fault, or if you were injured by airbags deploying when they shouldn’t have, contact Wade & Nysather today for a free consultation.
What Are Airbags?
Designed to keep you safe in your car in conjunction with – not instead of – seat belts, airbags are thin bags made from nylon that unfold from various locations in your vehicle in the event of a crash.
How Do Airbags Work?
Nitrogen gas inflates airbags in a fraction of a second to create a cushion between you or your passengers and the inside of the vehicle when sensors detect a collision. The bags then deflate after the driver or passenger makes contact with the airbag.
How Fast Do Airbags Deploy?
Airbags deploy at speeds around 200 miles per hour and inflate in approximately 55 milliseconds – about the length of time it takes to blink your eyes. At this speed, airbags can be extremely dangerous, which is why it’s crucial to wear a seat belt, stay at least 10 inches away from where airbags deploy, and keep children out of the front seat.
Airbags Save Lives…
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that 50,457 lives had been saved by frontal airbags as of 2017. Overall, front airbags reduce fatalities of drivers and front-seat passengers over the age of 12 by about a third. Side airbags with head and torso protection also reduce the risk of death.
…But You Still Need to Buckle Up
While the combination of an airbag plus a lap and shoulder belt reduces the risk of death in frontal crashes by 61%, there’s only a 34% reduction for airbags alone. Without a seat belt, you are much more likely to be ejected from the vehicle – and airbags can’t help if you end up on the pavement.
Where Are Airbags Located in Vehicles?
Although you may be most familiar with the airbag embedded in your vehicle’s steering wheel, modern vehicles typically have many airbags in different locations, including:
- Frontal airbags in the steering wheel and instrument panel
- Side airbags in the doors to protect from side collisions
- Knee airbags from beneath the steering column
- Curtain airbags from the roof to protect passengers’ heads
Airbags and Children
Front passenger airbags are designed for adults and can be dangerous for children. Kids ages 12 and younger should always sit in the back seat in age- and size-appropriate car or booster seats. If a child under 13 must ride in the front passenger seat for some reason, ensure the seat is as far away from the airbag as it can go.
Never install front-facing infant car seats in the front passenger seat. Children under the age of 2 should always be in rear-facing seats in the back seat of a vehicle.
Unfortunately, airbags aren’t perfect, and “the largest and most complex safety recall in U.S. history” (according to NHTSA) involves 67 million Takata airbags from more than 42 million vehicles installed in cars mainly from the model years 2002 through 2015.
In the United States alone, at least 19 people have been killed and more than 400 have been injured by metal shrapnel from the inflator housing exploding when the airbags deploy.
Wondering if your vehicle is included in this – or any other – recall? You can input your car’s VIN into this website to find out.
Could I Get Money if I Was Injured By a Defective Airbag?
Since this airbag recall was too massive to replace all the defective parts in a timely manner, your vehicle may still have had a defective airbag when you were in an accident. If you were injured (or if your loved one was killed) by metal shrapnel when the airbag deployed, you may be owed compensation from the company that manufactured the airbag.
In Arizona, you only have two years from the date of the accident to file a suit against the airbag manufacturer, the other driver, or another liable party to get compensation for your injuries. Contact an expert personal injury attorney at Wade & Nysather for a free consultation to discuss whether you may be eligible.
What Compensation Could I Be Entitled To?
If you were injured by a defective airbag, you may be entitled to compensation for things like:
- Past and future medical bills
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Property damage or destruction
- Reduced future earning potential
- Scarring or disfigurement
- Mental anguish
- Temporary or permanent disability
If your spouse, child, partner, sibling, or another person you were financially dependent on was killed by a defective airbag, you may be eligible for compensation.
Whether you were the one injured or you lost a loved one, contact the professionals at Wade & Nysather today to discuss your case.
Injured By an Airbag? Schedule a Free Consultation
If you were injured by an airbag that went off when it shouldn’t or in an accident that wasn’t your fault, contact the experienced Arizona car accident lawyers at Wade & Nysather for a free consultation. You may be entitled to compensation for the injuries you suffered as the result of a malfunctioning airbag or another driver’s negligence.
We have locations in Chandler, Scottsdale, Glendale, and Mesa to serve residents all around the Phoenix area, so contact us today.