Accidents & Personal Injury Blog

Air Bag Liability in New York

Air bags, meant to provide an additional measure of safety, can do more harm than good when malfunctions occur.

Vehicle airbags are intended to protect both drivers and passengers involved in car accidents. Airbags deploy upon impact and provide a soft surface with which to make contact during vehicle collisions. Without airbags, accident victims would be exposed to the hard inner surfaces of their vehicles, such as steering wheels and dashboards, increasing the risk for brain trauma, other serious injuries and death.

But despite the benefits provided by airbags, they can often inflict those same types of injuries they were designed to prevent. For example, there have been multiple instances over the years of airbags failing to deploy during accidents, as well as reports of these devices inflating even without a collision. Serious injuries can result from airbag malfunctions, including various forms of head and facial trauma. Tragically, hundreds of people to date have even died as a result of air bag defects.

Air Bag Liability Theories of Recovery

Air bags often malfunction due to design and manufacturing defect and when a driver or passenger is injured due to a faulty device, he or she may be legally entitled to compensation. Injury compensation can be warranted when a manufacturer fails to provide proper warnings regarding the use of its product or makes false warranty claims regarding product performance. There are a number of legal theories of recovery that may be employed when air bag injuries occur, including:

  • Negligence: A negligence claim may be appropriate if an airbag manufacturer failed to use ordinary care when designing or manufacturing its product. In addition, a manufacturer may also be found negligent if proper warnings were not provided to the consumer regarding any dangers associated with the airbag.
  • Breach of Warranty: A warranty is essentially a promise that a product will meet certain standards of performance. If a user is injured by a product, the manufacturer may be liable for breach of warranty.
  • Strict Liability: In certain situations, a manufacturer can be found strictly liable for the faulty performance of its product. Strict liability is particularly useful in cases in which negligence is difficult to prove. In order to hold a manufacturer strictly liable in an airbag injury case, a plaintiff must prove that:
    • The manufacturer was in the business of selling airbags and did indeed sell such a product to the plaintiff;
    • The airbag was defective, unreasonably dangerous, and caused the plaintiff’s injuries; and
    • The airbag was not altered by the end user or anyone else after it was sold.

If you have been injured by an airbag, contact an O&A personal injury attorney to discuss your situation as soon as possible. An experienced personal injury and product liability attorney will keep you apprised of your legal rights while guiding you towards the best course of action based on your unique circumstances. Please contact us for a free initial consultation at (518) 462-5601.

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