The American inventor of the automobile air bag said that it was due to his experience in a car accident and his wife’s and his own reaction to protect their daughter that pushed him to invent the air bag. Therefore, the purpose or goal of his invention was to reduce injuries during emergency braking and frontal collisions.
His idea stemmed from the need of a ‘safety cushion’ that protected persons in the car from striking the inside of the car. Today, almost all automobiles have air bags that serve to protect the driver and the front seat passenger, while other vehicles have additional air bags that deploy from the sides of the vehicle. John W. Hetrick’s goal of stopping a person from striking the inside of the car has seen fruition and all vehicle users and their passengers have benefited from his invention.
However, with the development of the deployment mechanism – which consists of a crash sensor that triggers and ignites so as to produce the gas that fills the air bag and deploys it - has come significant deployment errors as a result of the crash sensor malfunctioning. Such malfunctioning may result in failure the air bag to deploy or the deployment or deployment of the airbag at the wrong time; for example, while driving on the highway. Other things that can go wrong with an airbag deploying include the following:
The crash sensor might fail and only deploy one air bag
The airbag may be deployed a fraction of a second too late; such late deployment could cause serious injury as the driver’s or passenger’s head will be too close to the air bag. It is said that if a person is leaning very close to or against the steering wheel or dashboard at the exact time of the airbags deployment, the sheer force of the deployment could cause serious injury or even death. So much so that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has recommended that driver’s seat be at least ten inches away from the steering wheel.
A malfunctioning airbag can result in a personal injury claim and the negligence standard would apply in air bag injuries, as with any personal injury claim. Potential defendants in air bag injury claims include:
- The automobile manufacturer The air bag manufacturer
- If the car’s air bag was inspected, maintained or replaced after purchase, whoever did the inspection, maintenance or replacements is a potential defendant.
If you think that your air bag injury is due to a malfunction, ensure that you preserve evidence. Do not let the air bag or any related parts, for example the crash sensor, be thrown away.
Ensure that the car’s computer is not wiped clean and do not let the car be junked or transferred to the insurance company. It is very likely that after a car has been written off the insurance company will gain ownership of the vehicle, but try to hang on to it for as long as possible.
This is important in proving your negligence case. For a free case evaluation about your personal injury resulting from a malfunctioning air bag, contact a personal injury Anchorage attorney today.