Airbag Defects

Airbag systems are as complex as they are important for safety. Many systems now monitor seat position and belt use or non-use to determine when and if an airbag deployment is needed in minor to moderate accidents to protect the occupant. With this ever increasing complexity, the ability to identify and prosecute airbag defect claims becomes more difficult.

Developing trends in airbag litigation reveal that airbag defects can come in many forms. Consumers and attorneys looking to evaluate the potential that an airbag defect played a role in their injuries should consider the possibility that the airbag failed to perform as intended.

Some of the more common airbag failures and defects are as follows:

Takata Exploding Inflator

2014 was a remarkable year in that we saw one of the largest vehicle recalls in history. The Takata airbag is used across many manufacturers in tens of millions of vehicles worldwide. A defect was uncovered that can cause some inflators to explode upon deployment, sending metal shrapnel through the bag and into the vehicle’s occupants.
While manufacturers had quietly been recalling vehicles with these airbags since 2008, the issue escalated into an international crisis in 2014 after the defect was linked to four deaths and dozens of injuries. Further, investigation showed that both Takata and some auto manufacturers had knowledge of the defect for years prior to any action being taken.

Inadvertent deployments of airbags

Sometimes an airbag will deploy or “fire” when it is not intended. An airbag deploying in the absence of an accident is a classic example of an inadvertent deployment, and can be the basis of a claim when significant injuries occur.

Late deployments of airbags

Airbags are intended to deploy within milliseconds of the airbag computer sensing that a crash of significant magnitude is occurring. However, sometimes due to sensor placement issues, faulty components, or airbag algorithm problems the airbag can deploy after it should. The result is that the occupant does not receive the protection intended until after the forces of the impact have already caused injuries that could have been prevented.

Failure of an airbag to deploy

Most manufactures design airbags to deploy in moderate to severe accidents. Airbags are neither needed nor desired in low speed accidents, as the forces required to deploy an airbag in time may do more harm than good when they are introduced in minor crashes. However, as airbags become more complex more and more fail to deploy situations are being seen. In these cases, consumers can sustain injuries that could have been prevented if the airbag would have fired as intended and designed.

As Airbag Defect attorneys we can help

If you suspect an airbag defect to be the cause of a serious injury or death, contact us for a free evaluation of your case. As airbag defect lawyers we have extensive experience in litigating accidents involving airbags, and stand ready to bring our knowledge and expertise to bear for consumers injured by defective airbags.

Rollover Accidents

SUV rollover accidents are among the most tragic types of vehicle accidents, killing 10,000 and injuring nearly 30,000 people each year. Although not as common as other accidents, SUV rollovers result in a disproportionate number of serious injuries and deaths annually. Considering the popularity of the SUV as a family vehicle, it is all the more critical that manufacturers do everything possible to prevent rollovers and related injuries.

Rollover accidents occur most often in SUVs, minivans and light trucks due to their higher center of gravity than traditional automobiles. However, through the incorporation of reasonable design alternatives that increase stability and prevent occupant injuries in the event a rollover occurs, many of the serious injuries and deaths that occur each year can be prevented.

We understand that when a rollover accident occurs, there are multiple potential legal claims and theories that need to be explored.

At the Didier Law Firm, we understand that when a rollover accident occurs, there are multiple potential legal claims and theories that need to be explored. Rollover cases are fact-specific, and it is first necessary to understand the exact cause of rollover itself. The includes an evaluation of numerous potential contributing factors such as: whether or not the inherent instability of the vehicle due to its design played a role; whether a tire failure or tread separation occurred; whether safety systems like Electronic Stability Control (ESC) were incorporated into the vehicle; or, whether any environmental factors or roadway issues played a role. Next, it is critical to understand how the occupant was injured, and what potential vehicle defects may have contributed to the injuries or death. Lastly, it is necessary to work with qualified experts to determine if reasonable design alternative existed when the vehicle was made that, if used, could have prevented the injuries or fatality. In looking at alternative designs, often the design and performance of the vehicle’s roof structures, restraint systems, airbag systems, door frames and latches and vehicle padding are considered and examined.

Because of the complex nature of rollover cases, and the wide variety of defect issues that must be examined, it is vitally important when a vehicle rollover accident occurs that proper steps are taken to preserve evidence that may be helpful in determining if the vehicle’s design was a contributing cause of the accident itself or resulting injuries. This includes preserving the vehicle, obtaining quality photographs of the scene and collecting any available evidence, and interviewing witnesses and law enforcement as soon as possible. Later, when considered by experts, this evidence can prove invaluable in establishing a case and refuting the all too common defense claim that the sole cause of the accident was driver error.

As Rollover attorneys we can help

Complex and multi-faceted cases are our specialty. The Didier Law Firm has extensive litigation experience in litigating rollover accidents involving stability theories, roof crush allegations, occupant protection issues, restraint system and seatback failures, and other related claims. As rollover lawyers we are here to help you evaluate and pursue claims stemming from rollover accidents. If you have questions about a rollover claim, contact us so that we may help.

Seatback Failures

Often the ability of an occupant to walk away from a serious rear-end accident depends on how well that occupant’s and seatback performed in the crash.

If the seatback fails in a rear-end accident it not only exposes the person in that seat to injury, but can lead to significant injuries for the persons or children seated in the rear.

While there is significant debate within the automotive industry about the best design for seatbacks to prevent injuries, there is consensus that seatbacks should not fail uncontrollably rearward.

Consumers are constantly reminded of the importance of wearing seatbelts to prevent injuries in frontal accident. However, in a rear-end accident it is the seatback that is critical to prevent injuries. Therefore, it is critical that the seatback be designed with sufficient structural integrity to keep occupants safely in place. If poor design choices are made, or safer alternative designs ignored, significant injuries can result.

As Seatback Failure attorneys we can help

If you suspect seatback failure to be the cause of a serious injury or death, contact us today for a free evaluation of your case. As seatback failure lawyers we have extensive experience in litigating accidents involving seatback failures, and stand ready to bring our knowledge and expertise to bear for consumers injured by a seatback failure.

Tire Failures

Since the massive recall of Bridgestone Firestone tires in the early 2000s, public awareness has been heightened with respect to the dangers posed by defective tires. Tire failure claims most often arise out of accidents that result from tread separations when the vehicle’s tread actually separates or peels off of the underlying carcass or body of the tire. When this occurs it can have dramatic effects on how a vehicle will react when the driver makes steering corrections to try to maintain control and can lead to lose of control and rollover accidents.

Studies show maintaining tire pressure, observing tire and vehicle load limits, avoiding road hazards and regular inspections are keys to avoiding tire failures.

Similarly, if properly maintained and inflated tires fail within their useful life, design or manufacturing defects may exist. As in most product cases, the first hours and days after an accident can make or break your ability to prove the facts in a tire failure case. By taking immediate action, you can protect your case. The following information details the critical first steps upon intake of a potential tire case:

Preserve the Scene and Evidence. Documentation is crucial for your expert in these types of cases, so it is vital you take the steps needed to fully document the evidence that will support your claim. Hire an investigator to photograph the scene as soon as possible after an accident involving a tire failure. Photographs should include yaw marks, gouge marks, and indentations on the ground. It is equally critical in these cases that steps are taken to find all of the pieces of tread that may have separated and to accurately document where they were found. Have a surveyor or engineer conduct a scene survey. This survey will be critical down the road for your accident reconstruction expert, as well as the design or manufacturing defect experts, to use in forming their opinions. It is also important to save all of the other tires on the vehicle at the time as they may provide valuable information.

Locate, Preserve and Move the Vehicle. The vehicle or vehicles involved will also be critical in proving the facts of your case, thus locate it and issue preservation letters to the possessor of the vehicle (e.g. a tow yard or property insurer) as soon as possible. Once the vehicle has been obtained for preservation, it must be moved to a covered, secure facility. Before taking possession and moving the vehicle, have your investigator take detailed photographs. It is important to transport any vehicle involved in an auto accident under investigation on a car carrier. Evidence vehicles should be kept at a safe storage facility or warehouse that is secure.

Interview The Witnesses. Eyewitness testimony can be key to proving the facts of your case. Interview the eyewitnesses as soon as possible after the crash. Videotaping the statements will provide the added benefit of testimony to be used during future depositions or at trial.

Hire an Experienced Tire Expert. Hire a skilled and reputable tire expert to conduct a forensic examination of the tire and other evidence gathered as part of your investigation. After examining the tire and facts, your expert should be able to tell you whether or not you have a case and the potential defenses that will likely arise.
Collaborate with an Experienced Tire Attorney. Finally, consult with a products liability attorney to who has experience in litigating tire cases, as such consultation or collaboration can often prove invaluable in navigating the unique obstacles in these cases.

As Tire Failure Attorneys we can Help

If you suspect tire failure to be the cause of a serious injury or death,contact Didier Law Firm today for a free evaluation of your case. As tire failure lawyers we have extensive experience in litigating car accidents involving tire failures, and stand ready to bring our knowledge and expertise to bear for consumers injured by a tire failure.

References: NHTSA Tire Safety: Everything Rides On It, DOT HS 361 809