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When Should an Airbag Inflate?

In recent months, our law firm has seen an increasing number of airbag non-deploy cases resulting in severe injuries and fatalities. These cases typically involve catastrophic failures of passenger presence sensor systems that fail to recognize the passenger seat is occupied, which in turn, disables the airbag.

Several car manufacturers have issued recalls on vehicles that fail to detect front passenger occupants and issue commands to deploy the front passenger airbags in collisions. Even in the absence of a recall, airbag nondeployment issues remain a factor in vehicle crashes.

Airbag Deployment

Frontal airbags on the driver and passenger sides are designed to inflate only if the impact exceeds a predetermined threshold. During a crash, whether frontal airbags will or should deploy is not based solely on how fast the vehicle is traveling; it depends largely on what the vehicle hits; the direction of the impact; and how quickly the vehicle slows down.

Identifying Defects in Nondeployment Cases

If your case involves a frontal airbag that failed to deploy, consider these steps:

·         Identify the size of the passenger.

·         Review the Crash Data Retrieval (CDR) to determine whether the:

  • Vehicle’s speed at the time of the collision was above the deployment threshold.

  • CDR recorded the subject collision as a deployment event.

  • Vehicle’s passenger presence system failed to identify the front passenger seat occupant and therefore failed to issue a command to deploy the front passenger airbag.

If a vehicle crash resulted in a catastrophic injury or death, determine whether a faulty airbag caused or enhance the injury. Injuries can occur if an airbag failed to deploy or deployed improperly. The infographic below provides more information about potential airbag claims.

Contact Langdon & Emison

If you have questions about evaluating a case for potential airbag claims, call Langdon & Emison at 866-931-2115 or We will be pleased to help evaluate your case; steer you toward the right experts or answer any questions you may have.