Airbag Failures: Preventable Personal Injuries
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Airbag Failures: Preventable Personal Injuries

Sunday, October 11, 2009By Richard Alexander

Airbags are valuable safety devices that can prevent serious personal injuries and wrongful deaths when they work properly. Airbags have been mandatory in cars since 1989, and now some airplane manufacturers are installing them to provide an extra layer of protection for pilots and passengers.Airbags save lives, but they have no value if they fail to deploy in a crash, and that has happened frequently. An investigation done by the Kansas City Star found that 1400 drivers and front-seat passengers died between 2001 and 2006 in crashes in which the airbags failed to deploy. Defective airbags are common, and large recalls have happened regularly, even in high quality cars such as BMWs.

Another problem with airbags is that one that works properly can actually be a danger to a driver or a passenger. An airbag comes out of the steering wheel or the dashboard with explosive force, and if a person is sitting very close, the airbag can cause serious personal injury or even wrongful death. Children are especially vulnerable if they’re sitting too close to an airbag when it deploys, so adults must follow safety precautions to keep children safe.

Early airbags caused several hundred deaths, but manufacturers have reduced the force with which the bags deploy, and reports of injuries and deaths have declined significantly in recent years.

For some drivers and passengers who have suffered personal injury and wrongful death, the cause has been an unscrupulous repair shop that either failed to install a replacement airbag properly or simply chose to make some blood money by not installing an airbag after an accident. An undercover investigation into airbag replacement fraud found that many disreputable auto repair shops have made a practice of filling the airbag compartments with cloths, packing peanuts, and newspapers instead of replacing an airbag that has deployed. Some of these shops also rebuild cars that have suffered such severe damage that they should never be rebuilt.

Under the California Vehicle Code, rebuilding a car without replacing deployed air bags is a crime, and it’s one that puts the buyers of used cars and trucks in grave danger. The repair shops that commit the fraud are to blame, and so are the insurance companies that make billions of dollars every year by selling destroyed cars to rebuilders.

An airbag should provide you with an important level of protection when you’re in a car. If you have suffered a personal injury because an airbag has failed to deploy, if an airbag did deploy and caused an injury, or if an airbag was missing from a car that you bought, contact me to learn more.

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