This case involved an unsafe airbag and seatbelt system that failed to protect the driver in a car crash she should have walked away from. Our client was wearing her seatbelt and driving on a rural road in York County when another vehicle struck her car head on. The vehicle which hit hers had crossed the center line, leaving her a quadriplegic after the crash.
A detailed investigation was carried out following the crash. This included downloading and analyzing the data in the vehicle’s crash data recorder (the “black box”). As a result, it was determined that the airbag had deployed at 8 milliseconds. After examining countless crash tests, it was established that the typical point where the airbag should start to deploy is 30-40 milliseconds. Even further testing was carried out to show that the 8 millisecond deployment time was not in line with typical deployment. Therefore, the airbag was defective.
Because the airbag deployed so quickly, it had already started to deflate at the point our client needed the airbag at impact. As a consequence of the airbag deflating at the point of impact, our client’s head and neck were not properly restrained. Her head slammed into the steering wheel. This resulted in her catastrophic spinal cord injury, leaving her a quadriplegic.
Expert analysis and a successful outcome
The case involved at least twelve experts from both the plaintiff and defense sides. The experts came from the following fields: automotive engineering; airbag design; seatbelt design; biomechanics; accident reconstruction; spinal cord injuries; and, life care planning.
The resulting settlement for our client ensures she will have the financial means to support her future needs.
An airbag should be fully inflated before a passenger strikes it during a crash. Serious injuries occur when airbags do not deploy at the right time, speed, or fail to deploy at all. There are many low speed crashes where an airbag deploys when it was not needed, and causes injury. On the other hand, there are also severe impacts where the airbag fails to deploy when it was necessary to protect the occupant; or, as in this case, the timing of the airbag deployment was faulty.
An airbag safety system that is not designed or manufactured correctly could be defective and cause injury. When this happens, it is important to the safety of our community that the manufacturer is held accountable. This deters the same thing from happening again to someone else.