Dangers Posed by Defective Airbags in Georgia Auto Accidents


September 08, 2010

The development of airbags has protected many Georgia residents from catastrophic injuries and fatalities in moderate to high speed collisions. It has been estimated that airbags, during an approximately 20 year period, prevented an estimated 5,303 front seat occupants from fatalities. Airbags are a valuable piece of safety equipment for protecting those involved in auto accidents from suffering serious injuries or death in a high speed collision. Unfortunately, airbags can cause significant injuries or fatalities when a driver is involved in a low speed crash.

One example of such an accident involved a Macon County court case involving Mrs. Wanda Howard who was involved in a low speed collision in her Ford F-150. She was driving and wearing her seat belt and was not at fault in the accident. Neither her husband, who was driving the vehicle, nor those in the other vehicle suffered any serious injury. However, Mrs. Howard suffered a severe brain injury which was apparently caused by an overly aggressive passenger side airbag. This kind of serious injury is an example of the tragic impact of a defective airbag.

The caring team of attorneys at Montlick and Associates have been assisting those injured in serious auto accidents in the greater Atlanta area and throughout the entire State of Georgia for over 25 years. Airbags can cause injuries by being overly aggressive in deployment, as in Mrs. Howard's case; by deploying at the wrong time; or by not deploying at all. The most serious risk of injury from airbags is to children and adults who are smaller in stature. Airbags are designed to protect an average sized man who sits 10-12 inches from the steering wheel from hitting one's head on the steering wheel or dashboard in a collision. Some airbags deploy at speeds of up to 200 miles per hour. Smaller adults may sit closer to the steering wheel so that they can reach the accelerator and brake. When people sit closer to the steering wheel they can suffer serious injuries to their eyes, head and neck. The incredible force with which an airbag deploys can cause a child to suffer catastrophic injuries including traumatic brain injuries, a broken neck, blindness and even suffocation. It is crucial that smaller children be seated in the back seat of the vehicle to avoid airbag injuries. They should be properly belted or fastened into an age-and-weight-appropriate child safety seat or booster seat. (Watch an informative segment from ABC News featuring Montlick & Associates' Family Safety Advocate speaking on Car Seats and Booster Seats, and print our free safety information).

There are a number of types of airbag defects that are most common, including the following:

Delayed Airbag Deployment: Airbags must be fully inflated to be safe when the driver or passenger comes into contact with the airbag. Sometimes sensors that trigger the airbag are poorly designed or located improperly resulting in late deployment. When this happens the airbag inflates into the victim at speeds of up to 200 miles per hour causing inflation related injuries.

Overly Aggressive Airbag Deployment: As was the case with Mrs. Howard, airbags sometimes deploy with too much force or in minor low impact collisions when they should not deploy at all. In such cases, the airbag may cause serious injuries, whereas none would have been suffered had the airbag not deployed.

Failure to Deploy: Sometimes airbags do not deploy because of defective or poorly located sensors. There are indications that this type of defect has become more common as auto manufacturers have tried to cut cost by reducing the volume and number of sensors.

The scope and reach of this defective airbag problem is enormous and is reflected in just a short list of past recalls related to defective airbags in recent years:

  • General Motors: 224,000 Cadillac Devilles to replace side impact sensor modules
  • Daimler Chrysler: 216,000 Pickup Trucks because of defective driver side airbags
  • Ford Motor Company: 43,000 Lincoln Continentals because airbags were deploying without a collision
  • Hyundai Motor Company: 240,000 related to computer issues with airbag deployment
  • Honda Motor Company: 85,000 because of late deployment resulting from faulty sensor location

This list is not exhaustive but illustrates the reach of defective airbag issues which involves hundreds of thousands of vehicles manufactured by many of the largest auto manufacturers. At Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, our Georgia Auto Accident Attorneys understand that you need a law firm that will stand behind you and work hard to protect your rights if you or someone you love is seriously injured by an airbag in an auto accident. We are available to assist clients throughout all of Georgia including, but not limited to, Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller and rural towns in the State. Call us today for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333), or visit us on the web at www.montlick.com.

Category: Personal Injury

Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.