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Who Do I Sue for an Airbag Injury?



Airbags in your vehicle are designed to save your life in a front-end collision but aren’t infallible. Malfunctions can easily cause you injury. When this happens, as a victim, you can find yourself in a world of physical recovery and product liability law. It’s no surprise if you feel a little lost. Understanding who is liable and how to take legal action against them is a large part of your journey to compensation. This article aims to bring some of that information out in the open and help you identify the potentially responsible parties and what you can do about it.

What is Product Liability?

When we say product liability, we mean the legal process that holds manufacturers, distributors, and retailers (there can be other parties too), the members of the supply chain, accountable for injuries caused by their defective or unsafe products. When it comes to airbags, you’re looking at defects in their design, manufacturing, or poor warning labels. Start by contacting an accident attorney near you to ask questions.

Design Defects

These defects happen before manufacturing. They’re ways in which the product’s specific design is inherently unsafe. For airbags, this can mean that the airbag and its system may be prone to deploy with excessive force or even at inappropriate times.

Manufacturing Defects

This means that the design is safe, but something happened during manufacturing that caused the device to deviate from the safe design. This is what quality control measures are for, it happens. The problem arises when quality control doesn’t catch defective items and errors or when manufacturing uses substandard materials.

Improper Signage

If any item could be dangerous, proper labels or paperwork need to accompany the item to warn the user about the potential for danger. It is the manufacturers’ and distributors’ job to provide users with adequate warnings, like “Caution HOT” printed on your morning coffee cup. When it comes to airbags, this involves the signs that warn about the risks to children or small adults in the front seats when airbags are present.

How to Identify the Responsible Party

The most direct line of responsibility is to the manufacturer. This process is where you have to analyze your injuries and consult with an injury attorney regarding the causes. If your injury results from a flaw in the airbag design or the manufacturing process, then they can be held responsible.

There are cases where installation is that problem rather than the airbag itself, or even a combination of the two. The vehicle manufacturer is responsible for integrating the airbag system into the vehicle and problems can occur at this stage too. If the integration of the airbag system contributed to the malfunction, they too can be held liable.

If the manufacturer doesn’t make all the parts of the airbag themselves, others contribute to the liability. The companies that supplied components to the airbag or those who helped distribute the airbag can be held accountable. For these companies to be liable, the components or actions have to have contributed to the defect or the failure. For instance, a shipping company that doesn’t handle products properly can cause damage in shipping. If this damage is a result of substandard materials used, then the manufacturer and the distributor are liable.

The least common party when it comes to liability is the retailer. In rare instances, they could become a liable party if they sold a vehicle knowing that the airbag system had been recalled or had documented issues.

Filing a Claim

Step One

Gather Evidence. Document the incident and collect your medical reports. You’ll also want to have any communication with manufacturers or insurers in writing or at least recorded. Get some help from a professional and collect evidence related to the airbag failure. This would include photos of the scene and of the vehicle.

Step Two

Consult a Legal Professional. Don’t try to walk this road alone. Product liability law is complicated. Consult with a lawyer who specializes in cases like this. They can help you determine liability and who to call as defendants. They can also advise you on the merits of your case and what fair compensation would be.

Step Three

Know Your Statute of Limitations. You’re going to want to create a tight case to get the best compensation possible but you need to know your timeline. Each state and locality will have differing laws surrounding how much time you have to file a claim from the date of the incident. Missing this deadline often means forfeiting your right to sue.

Step Four

Be Prepared to Defend Yourself. You need to have a strong defense. Many people in your position find themselves defending themselves from accusations of user error or the simple fact that the accident was unavoidable. You need to be prepared for these counterarguments.

How to Successfully Get Compensation

You’re main job will be to prove that the defendant was negligent, first. Then you’ll have to prove that their negligence led straight to the defective airbag and that you wouldn’t have your injury without it. In other words, you need to prove that they breached the duty of care they owed you and that breach directly caused your injuries.

There’s also Strict Liability. This means that you don’t have to prove negligence. In this case, you only have to show that the product was defective because it caused harm when it was used exactly as intended.

Once you’ve successfully managed either of the above, it’s time to determine compensation. Your compensation will be determined using your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and any punitive damages should your case show offensive negligence.


Suing for airbag injuries is not an easy task. Product liability law is a complex matter where you may need to navigate multiple potential defendants. The process is daunting but when you understand the basics you can find yourself on the right path to compensation straight away. It’s always advisable to hire a top-rated car accident attorney with product liability experience so they can help you rightfully identify the responsible parties and calculate fair and right compensation. Every case is unique, so you’ll need a personalized approach tailored to the specifics of your accident.




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