While an airbag is an effective and helpful life-saving device in a vehicle, it is one of the leading causes of most severe injuries during an accident because of deployment or defect issues. Some of the injuries you can suffer from an airbag malfunction or deployment issues include brain injury, eye injuries, skull fracture, and many more.
If you or someone dear to you has suffered injuries or is dead after sustaining an airbag injury, you can seek the compensation you deserve in a product liability claim. To know or identify the liable party in your airbag injury case, you should retain the services of a product liability attorney to investigate the case as soon as possible.
Do not let the injuries of an airbag injury affect your ability to live a happy and comfortable life henceforth. Let an attorney review and investigate your case to help you determine who to sue for damages arising from the airbag injury.
What is an Airbag, and How Does it Cause Injuries?
Airbags are crucial devices in a vehicle designed to inflate in the event of a significant collision or accident to reduce the impact on the driver and passengers onboard. Typically when an airbag deploys, it acts as a barrier between you and your car parts, like the steering wheel, to prevent injuries in the event of an accident.
Unfortunately, instead of preventing injuries, your car airbag can make you sustain severe injuries due to a defective design or manufacturing defect, which makes it:
- Deploy late or too soon
- Deploy at extremely high velocity (deploying too forceful)
- Deploy without a significant collision on the car (accidentally deploying)
- Fail to deflate
Regardless of the type of airbag defect you or some dear to you experienced, you could be eligible for damages in a product liability lawsuit against the at-fault party. To stand a chance of achieving maximum compensation in your case, you should hire an attorney as soon as you can to investigate the actual cause of your injuries and the liable party.
Potential Liable Parties in an Airbag Injury Case
To receive the damages you are entitled to after sustaining an airbag injury, you must first identify the at-fault or liable party in your case. According to product liability legal theory, manufacturers or any other person in that chain of commerce have a legal responsibility of ensuring products are safe for use before they reach a customer's hands.
To that end, when you sustain an airbag injury because of a deployment or malfunction problem, the following parties could be liable for your damages under this legal doctrine or theory:
The Manufacturer of the Airbag
Even if there are no errors or flaws in an airbag design, a mistake can occur during the manufacturing process, making it unsafe for use. Airbag makers have a legal responsibility to ensure their products are safe for their customers or consumers.
If your attorney believes that your airbag injuries were due to a manufacturing error, they can help you seek a fair settlement for your damages from the product maker. To do that, they first need to prepare a demand letter detailing all your monetary and non-monetary losses resulting from the airbag injury and send it to the airbag maker.
The airbag maker will respond to your settlement request within a few weeks or a month. If you do not receive any settlement offer within that period, you must file a product liability lawsuit against them to receive the compensation you deserve.
In a product liability lawsuit, your attorney must prove using proper evidence that the airbag had manufacturing or a design defect that affected its deployment for an award of your entitled damages. For instance, the airbag deploying without a collision or at the wrong time is enough reason to convince the court that the product had a manufacturing error.
The Car Manufacturer
Another party you can sue for your damages resulting from an airbag injury or injuries is the manufacturer of your car. Your car manufacturer could be liable for your airbag injuries if a flaw in their car's design affected the airbag's deployment in the event of a crash.
If your car is a Toyota harrier, you can pursue your damages from the Toyota company if a design defect was the cause of your airbag injuries and the company did not provide you with a prior warning.
Even if its design was not defective, the car's manufacturer could be liable for your damages if they knew about the risks associated with using their product but failed to warn you ahead of time.
Suppose you had a warning about the inherent risks in the car's airbag system. In that case, you could have used the vehicle in a different way to avoid these airbag injuries, which are now eating up your finances.
If that is the case, the court can award you damages for current and possible future losses you could incur due to these airbag injuries.
Other Potential Liable Parties in an Airbag Injury Case
Although the above two parties are to blame in most airbag injury cases, the following parties could also be potentially liable for your injuries and damages:
A Repair Shop or a Mechanic
If by any chance you had your car's airbag maintained or repaired after buying the car, you could have a viable airbag injury claim against the repair shop or the mechanic who did the services.
Ensure you discuss car repair history with your attorney during the investigation process to help them identify whether or not a repair shop or mechanic could be liable for your losses resulting from the airbag injury.
Car Distributor or Dealership
Under product liability laws, any person involved in a product's distribution chain could also be a potential defendant in a product liability case. Typically, "a product's chain of distribution" is the path that a product passes through to reach the hands of a consumer from the manufacturer.
That means, in an airbag injury case, you could have a viable compensation claim against the distributor or the dealership where you bought the car. Even if the dealership did not manufacture or design your car or any part of it, they could be liable for your losses arising from an airbag injury for selling you an unroadworthy or defective vehicle.
Note, even if you are not the actual buyer of the vehicle from the dealership, you can still recover damages for the losses resulting from the airbag injury under product liability law. Generally, identifying the liable party in your airbag injury case can be a complex legal process, especially if you are not an attorney yourself.
Even if you are an attorney, it could be challenging to determine the party to sue for your damages resulting from an airbag injury if this is not your area of specialization. Having an experienced product liability attorney in your corner is the key to identifying the at-fault party in your airbag injury case as soon as possible for an appropriate cause of action.
Why You Need an Attorney When Determining Liability in an Airbag Injury Case
Although most injuries resulting from a car accident are due to the other motorist's negligence and recklessness, some cases are due to a car's or its parts manufacturing defects, for example, an airbag malfunction. In contrast to a negligence case, proving liability in these cases could be more challenging.
Below are some of the reasons why you need an attorney when determining liability in an airbag injury case:
They Can Better Work With Other Experts to Determine Liability in Your Airbag Injury Case
When investigating and determining liability in an airbag injury case, your attorney can work with other experts like Accident Reconstruction Experts (ARE), who could identify what could have led to the accident. An accident reconstruction expert typically works in reverse when studying and documenting evidence at an accident scene to determine issues that could have led to the accident.
These experts can provide your attorney with useful information they will need in court when proving that you deserve compensation for your airbag-related injuries, including 3D models of the accident scene.
An experienced attorney will most likely have one or two contact information of a reliable ARE that can help them determine liability in your airbag injury case to avoid wasting time.
They Can Help You Deal With Foreign Defenders
Even if the dealership where you bought your car is in another country, you can still sue them for damages resulting from an airbag injury. Generally, doing any business in this country makes a foreign business or company subject to the court's jurisdiction where they conduct their business.
If a foreign dealership was the cause of your airbag injury, your attorney could help you take appropriate legal action against them to achieve a desirable outcome in the case.
You Need Ample Time To Undergo Treatment and Recuperate
Once you sustain an airbag injury or injuries, it could be challenging for you to pursue damages from the at-fault party while in the hospital undergoing treatment or at your home healing. However, you do not have to go through this situation alone, especially if you suspect the cause of your injury was a defective airbag.
When you hire a product liability attorney after sustaining an airbag injury, they will help you prepare your compensation claim against the at-fault party to give you ample time to heal and recuperate from these injuries. Ensure you hand over any relevant evidence to your attorney to build and strengthen your compensation claim against the at-fault party, for example:
- Your medical or therapy bill receipts
- Any photographs or videos you have of the accident scene
- Your vehicle repair records
Time Limit for Filing an Airbag Injury Lawsuit After Identifying the Liable Party in Your Case
Once you identify the at-fault or the liable party in your airbag injury case, you should take the necessary legal action against them before the expiry of the statute of limitations for doing so. Statute of limitations is typically the time frame you have to file a compensation claim against the liable party from the date you sustained the airbag injury.
Generally, you have a maximum of four (4) years from the date of the airbag injury to file a product liability lawsuit against the liable party in your case. However, when your family member dies after sustaining an airbag injury, as the surviving family member, you will have a maximum of two (2) years to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the liable party.
For any reason, when you fail to file your lawsuit within this time frame, the court will throw away your case even if you have a viable claim against the liable party. That is why you need an attorney on your side as soon as possible because time is of the essence in product liability claims.
Damages You Could Recover Once You Identify the Liable Party in Your Airbag Injury Case
When you win your settlement or lawsuit against the liable party in your airbag injury case with the help of your attorney, you can recover damages for the following types of losses:
- Loss of enjoyment or ability to enjoy life
- Cost of current and possible future medical or therapy needs
- Physical pain and suffering
- Lost income and other benefits
- Lost or reduced earning capacity if you have a permanent injury that can affect your ability to work
- Personal care costs
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Emotional distress
- Impairment and disabilities
The total amount you could win on your product liability lawsuit for an airbag injury could be worth hundreds of thousands or millions. Generally, the skills and aggressiveness of your attorney will determine whether or not you will win your case and how much you could receive as damages for your airbag-induced injuries.
At Jacksonville Personal Injury Attorney, we aim to help you achieve the maximum compensation possible in your airbag injury case. We understand how challenging it could be to deal with the aftermath of an airbag injury case alone when hospital bills are piling up, and you have missed work for a couple of days.
We invite you to call us at 904-800-7557 to discuss your case for free with our seasoned attorneys if you or your relative has sustained an injury or succumbed to death due to an airbag injury. We will not rest until we achieve the fair compensation that you deserve for your airbag-induced injury and losses.