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Study Suggests Potential Hazard Associated with the Newest Generation of Airbags

December 08, 2013

Sometimes the solution to a problem creates more safety risks than the problem it was designed to remedy. In other words, sometimes progress in promoting consumer safety is not progress at all. There is new research that suggests that certain advances in airbag technology may not have made consumers safer. The time of deployment is essential for airbags to maximize vehicle occupant safety. When driver side or passenger airbags deploy too early, too late or not at all, the result in certain circumstances can be traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), broken bones and blindness, injuries to the spine and neck and other serious debilitating forms of injury.

A new study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) indicates that in certain cases airbags with earlier technology might be less hazardous than the current generation of airbags. The study found that airbags that are certified as advanced and compliant utilize sensors to evaluate and control the appropriate amount of airbag inflation taking into account the force of impact and the weight of vehicle occupants. However, the IIHS report concluded that these types of airbags were associated with marginally higher fatality rates in relatively minor collisions for both front seat passengers and drivers when compared to sled-certified airbags with advanced features (i.e. prior generation airbags). The newest generation of airbags also were linked to a significant rise in belted driver death rates over prior generation airbags.

One recent airbag injury lawsuit that resulted in a verdict of $6.5 million suggests an explanation for the IIHS findings. The plaintiff sued for a serious injury to her neck caused by a dislocated vertebrae when the airbag in her vehicle failed to fully deploy according to a World-Herald report. The plaintiff argued that the failure of the airbag to fully deploy resulted in her striking her head against the steering wheel and resulted in her head be snapped back more violently during the collision because there was a greater distance for her head to travel between the steering column and the head rest of her seat. The plaintiff was so seriously injured that she had to receive lengthy rehabilitation to develop the ability to walk again.

While there is no dispute that airbags are a vital component of a vehicle's safety equipment, there have been a wave of recalls in recent times from multiple vehicle manufacturers based on airbag system defects. Two such airbag recalls were discussed in a recent report from CNN Money. Toyota was forced to issue an airbag recall after discovering that spider webs could obstruct air-conditioning drainage hoses which might result in water dripping onto the computer unit that controls the airbags. The moisture could cause a short in the control unit resulting in the airbag deploying at an inappropriate time.

Put Our Law Firm's Over 39 Years of Legal Experience to Work For Your Case

If you or a family member is injured when an airbag malfunctions or fails to deploy, you may have a legal claim for financial compensation. The manufacturer of the vehicle may be liable if you are injured because the airbag deploys when there is no accident or only a minor low impact collision or when the airbag deploys too aggressively or at the wrong time during a crash. Our Atlanta personal injury attorneys have been representing injury victims for over thirty years throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.

Category: Personal Injury

Please Note:
All information provided by our blogs is general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Consult a Montlick attorney for details about your unique situation.