When Injuries From Defective Airbags Kill

Chicago motorists rarely consider how the components of their vehicles can affect their safety. Sometimes, the very features that are designed to save motorists’ lives in the event of an accident are the very things that can pose them the greatest harm. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has put the topic in the spotlight with their recent Consumer Advisory. This notice urges vehicle owners to be aware of the possibility that their cars are equipped with defective airbags.

The notice reports that owners of vehicles manufactured by the 10 largest automakers may have a defective brand of airbag installed in their cars and should promptly heed any recall notices they receive from these companies. Nearly eight million vehicles may have the defective devices. The recalls are focused in Florida, Puerto Rico, Texas, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia, Louisiana, and Hawaii, as well as some U.S. territories. A Chicago wrongful death lawyer understands that when these devices fail, individuals are much more likely to die in an accident.

About airbags

Airbags should deploy only in moderate to severe accidents. When the impact occurs, sensors in the device’s system cause the airbag to rapidly inflate. According to, airbags inflate at speeds reaching 200 mph, or in less than 1/20tth of a second. U.S. federal regulations state that these devices must be able to restrain an unbelted dummy representing an average man in a collision with a concrete barrier at 30 mph. The bag is meant to inflate quickly to prevent the vehicle’s occupants from colliding with the internal surfaces of the car, which could cause deadly injuries.

Dangers of defective airbags

Airbags can deploy or fail to deploy in ways that can inflict serious, deadly injuries on motorists instead of keeping them safe. These devices are designed to inflate at specific angles and speeds in order to maximize safety and effectiveness. A Chicago wrongful death lawyer knows that if an airbag deploys in the wrong direction, or at greater than normal speeds, the effects can be catastrophic for motorists and their passengers.

Airbags may also deploy in low impact crashes or seemingly at random. If the sensors are faulty, the system can believe that an accident occurred, or that a more severe accident occurred, and deploy the airbag. When there are no forces to counteract the extreme force generated by the airbag, motorists can receive deadly injuries without warning.

The most common injures motorists sustain in these accidents include the following:

  • Facial lacerations
  • Broken bones in the nose and face
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Broken neck or whiplash

When an airbag fails to deploy as designed, motorists and their passengers can easily be killed in collisions that would have otherwise not been deadly.

Those who have lost loved ones to accidents involving defective airbags may be able to receive compensation for their losses with the help of a Chicago wrongful death lawyer.