Car accidents are some of the most traumatic events a person can experience. They often result in serious physical injuries and sometimes even death. The government has mandated that all motor vehicles have certain safeguards so as to minimize and hopefully prevent death or serious injury from occurring. Sometimes airbags fail, putting drivers and passengers in car accidents at risk. If you were injured in a car accident due to airbag failure, you could have a cause of action against your car manufacturer or the company that created and designed the airbags used in the production of your vehicle. The Philadelphia product liability attorneys at The Reiff Law Firm can determine whether you have a case and will fight to recover the maximum compensation for your medical treatment, lost wages, and property damage.
The Function of Airbags
In 1989, the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) mandated that all motor vehicles have passive-restraint systems (a.k.a. seatbelts). Later on, in 1995, NHTSA mandated that all vehicles created during or after that year must have dual front airbags. These are intended to protect both the driver and front seat passenger.
Airbags were designed to prevent a driver or front seat passenger’s upper body from striking a vehicle’s interior during a crash. They are made of thin nylon fabric and are folded into the steering wheel or dashboard. When a moderate to severe crash occurs, the airbag system’s electronic control unit sends a signal to the inflator that is located in the airbag module. The inflator contains an igniter which inflates the airbag in less than one-twentieth of a second.
Airbag Defects and Malfunctions That Can Cause Injury
Unfortunately, when a crash occurs, sometimes airbags do not deploy or can even explode which puts the vehicle’s driver passengers at risk for death or serious bodily harm. When airbags malfunction, there are many types of injuries that passengers can potentially suffer from. Some of these include:
- Eye injuries
- Ear damage or loss of hearing
- Brain injury
- Bruises and abrasions
- Internal bleeding
- Organ damage
- Broken or fractured bones
When someone experiences injuries resulting from airbag malfunction, they can end up drowning in medical bills and endless doctor’s appointments. Time missed at work due to bodily injury can lead to lost wages and unemployment. To be properly compensated for a product defect that occurred through no fault of your own, it is crucial to seek the help of an attorney who specializes in product liability. These types of cases can be especially long, tedious, and sometimes hard to prove.
The statute of limitations for product liability lawsuits in Pennsylvania is 2 years. Thus, if you were injured in a car accident due to defective airbags, it is important to act fast so that you can recover damages you are owed. The three categories of product liability defects are defective design, manufacturing defect, and lack of adequate warning or instructions. To prove that a defective design caused your injuries, courts analyze two standards:
- The Consumer Expectations Standard: Was this product more dangerous than a reasonable person would expect?
- The Risk Utility Standard: Does the injury stemming from the product’s use outweigh the burden of taken precautions against that same injury occurring in the future?
Manufacturing defects occur where a malfunction occurred during the manufacturing of that product. In this type of case, you do not have to prove intent on the part of the manufacturer. The lack of adequate warning and instructions category is for products that no matter how well they are manufactured or designed, a risk of injury still exists. In this case, it is the responsibility of the manufacturer of that product to provide adequate warning to the consumer of the risks and danger that comes with the use of this product.
What Happens If an Airbag Deploys and Injures You
Individuals who are injured by a defective airbag can also collect damages under a negligence theory. In order to prove negligence, it must be shown that
- The injured party was owed a duty,
- The manufacturer/designer/retailer breached that duty,
- The breach proximately caused the injuries suffered, and
- The consumer suffered actual damages as a result of that breach.
Lastly, the injured party can sue by alleging breach of warranty. There are three kinds of warranties: express, implied warranty of merchantability and implied warranty of fitness. Express warranties are warranties either contained in the sales contract or when a seller promises a consumer that a product will perform in a particular way. Implied warranties of merchantability Implied warranties of fitness are warranties that arise when a seller is aware that a consumer relies on personal judgment when choosing a product to accomplish a purpose, and the product is not fit for that particular purpose.
Our Philadelphia Airbag Injury Attorneys Can Help
If you sustained injuries in a car crash that resulted from air bag malfunction, it is imperative that you contact an experienced Philadelphia personal injury attorney today. There are several ways to go about pursuing a products liability claim, and the attorneys at The Reiff Law Firm can help you successfully recover the damages you are owed. Call our attorneys today at (215) 246-9000.