In this post, we discuss legal issues related to airbags. While airbags are designed to save your life and reduce your injuries, airbags themselves often cause injuries; sometimes airbags fail to deploy, deploy improperly, or deploy when no accident is occurring. Under any of those circumstances, you could be entitled to sue for monetary damages from the manufacturers of the airbags for making a defective product. An experienced personal injury lawyer in Atlanta can help.
Defective Airbag Injuries
While airbags are a net positive in saving lives and in reducing injuries, injuries caused by a defective airbag can and should be compensated by the party responsible. The manufacturer of the airbags is potentially liable to pay for your injuries; your personal injury lawyers in Atlanta can help you determine which parties are liable for your injuries.
The most common examples of airbag defects occur when airbags:
- Did not deploy at all
- Did not deploy quickly enough
- Did not fully deploy
- Deployed at improper time
In general, airbag manufacturers and sellers must ensure that any products sold in the marketplace are not dangerous or defective, otherwise, the airbag manufacturers can be held liable under the legal theories of negligence and product liability. Theories of negligence might include failure to fully test and/or inspect, failure to train with respect to installation, failure to maintain, failure to give warnings, failure to give instructions, or failure to properly label the airbags.
Product liability is an additional method of holding the airbag manufacturers liable for your injuries. Product liability might include improper design of the airbag, improper design of the computer control system/equipment and/or software, improper, inferior, or unsafe materials. Sometimes failure to warn is considered product liability.
Product Liability Case: Kia Motors Corp. v Ruiz
A recent case from the State of Texas provides a good example of a family successfully winning a product a liability case because of injuries caused by a defective airbag. In the case of Kia Motors Corp. v. Ruiz, 432 S.W.3d 865 (Tex. 2014), Andrea Ruiz was driving a 2002 Kia Spectra with her daughter Suzanna in the front passenger seat. Both Andrew and Suzanna were wearing seatbelts. They were struck by a pickup truck in a head-on collision. Andrea’s airbag did not deploy and she died at the scene from two dislocated vertebrae in her neck. Suzanna’s airbag deployed, and she suffered minor injuries. The Ruiz family sued the driver of the pickup truck for his negligent driving. The family also sued Kia Motors Corporation for product liability related to the airbag deployment failure.
With respect to the defective airbag claim, the Kia Spectra was equipped with an Airbag Diagnostic Unit (“ADU”) which contained a small computer that signaled for the airbags to deploy and the seatbelts to tighten during a crash. The data downloaded from the ADU on the vehicle showed that, at the time of the collision, the airbag had an “error code 56” which meant an open electrical circuit in the driver’s-side airbag. An open circuit would prevent the airbag from deploying. The Ruizes’ personal injury attorneys proved that the cause of the open circuit was the existence of two metal connectors in the air-bag module. Because the connectors were not locked in place, they moved at some point, causing the open circuit. As such, the defect was part of the manufacturing process. At the first trial, the jury awarded the Ruizes $1,972,000 in compensatory damages and $2,500,000 in punitive damages.
Consult with a Good Lawyer
If you have suffered injuries because of a defective airbag or because of some other defective product, our personal injury attorneys in Atlanta may be able to help.