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Can I Sue the Manufacturer if My Airbag Failed to Deploy in a Car Accident?

Posted by Inna Gorin | Jun 16, 2022

While airbags are designed to protect vehicle occupants from the most serious injuries, they don't always deliver on that

Defective Airbag

purpose. In fact, sometimes an airbag's failure to deploy can lead to catastrophic injuries if you're involved in a serious car accident in Los Angeles.  

In some cases, you may be able to sue the manufacturer if your vehicle's airbag's deployment failure leads to serious injury or death in a wreck. 

Serious Injuries Caused by Airbag Failures

As provided by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), “Airbags reduce the chance that your upper body or head will strike the vehicle's interior during a crash.” Airbags are designed to protect the most important part of the human body, and when airbags fail to deploy in a car wreck, the injuries are often severe. Airbag deployment failure injuries can include:

  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Broken facial bones
  • Blindness
  • Severe injury to the torso

These injuries often require emergency room attention and, sometimes, long-term medical care. Those who've suffered serious brain damage because of an airbag failure may not be able to go back to work until they fully recover. The expenses incurred because of an airbag failure are often financially ruinous. 

How Airbags are Supposed to Work 

Regarding proper airbag deployment, the NHTSA states:

  • “…when there is a moderate to severe crash, a signal is sent from the airbag system's electronic control unit to an inflator within the airbag module. An igniter in the inflator starts a chemical reaction that produces a harmless gas, which inflates the airbag within the blink of an eye – or less than 1/20th of a second.”

The mechanics required in proper airbag deployment are not failproof, and both design and manufacturing defects can lead to malfunction. 

Design and Manufacturing Defects in Airbags

It is a mistake to assume design defects and manufacturing defects originate from the same place. Instead, you should understand that different parties may be responsible for different defects. 

Design Defects:

  • Design defects occur very early on in the design phase of airbag production. A design flaw will cause large-scale issues, resulting in a dangerous product for anyone who drives a car with a defective airbag. 

Manufacturing Defects:

  • Manufacturing defects occur at a later stage in production when the airbag components are put together. Manufacturing defects may not universally affect all airbags with the same design, and the defects may be limited to a certain manufacturing plant.

Those injured can sue for an airbag design or a manufacturing defect, but the process is complicated and requires a nuanced understanding of who to make a claim or claims against.  

What Can You Sue an Airbag Manufacturer For?

In a lawsuit for airbag manufacturing defects that caused you injuries in L.A., you can sue for compensation, including:

  • Medical expenses
  • Property damage
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering
  • Wrongful death

A successful lawsuit against an airbag manufacturer can yield economic relief that helps victims regain their financial and emotional well-being, but proving a manufacturing defect isn't easy. 

Proving an Airbag Manufacturing Defect

In proving your case against an airbag manufacturer for failure to deploy, you'll need to successfully demonstrate that you sustained injuries because the airbag failed to deploy when it otherwise should have deployed. 

The severity of the collision and the extent of your injuries will play an important role in proving the airbag default. If an airbag is recalled after your wreck, that could further prove that the manufacturer knew or should have known of the defect. 

If your collision occurs after a recall has been issued, however, you may have a more difficult time proving the manufacturer's liability for your injuries after you received notice of the airbag's defective nature. 

Statute of Limitations for Airbag Manufacturing Defect Lawsuits

You have two years to bring a lawsuit against the manufacturer of a defective airbag under Section 335.1 of the California Code of Civil Procedure. The clock starts running when you experience the injury caused by the airbag. Due to the complicated nature of product liability cases, you shouldn't wait to commence the preparation of your lawsuit. 

Products Liability Cases in California

California imposes strict liability in manufacturing defects, meaning the injured party doesn't have to prove that the manufacturer was negligent in causing the defect. 

Instead of proving negligence, a successful case will prove that the airbag was defective when it left the manufacturer's possession and that the victim was injured by their reasonable use of the airbag. 

Injury Justice Law Firm are top-rated personal injury attorneys serving victims of negligence throughout Southern California, including Los Angeles County, Orange County, Santa Barbara County, Ventura County, Riverside, and San Bernardino.

We are located at 1999 Avenue of the Stars, 11th Fl., Los Angeles, CA 90067, and in the San Fernando Valley at 14401 Sylvan St #112 Van Nuys, CA 91401.

Call our law firm at (818) 781-1570 for a free consultation, or contact our office online.  

About the Author

Inna Gorin

Inna Gorin, the founding Partner of Injury Justice Law Firm modeled the Firm after her ideals and principles of what skilled, aggressive and tenacious representation of individual clients should embody. Ms. Gorin's mission is to level the playing field, and provide her clients with the same level...


If you have been injured in an accident, our experienced Los Angeles personal injury attorneys will protect your legal rights and help you recover compensation for your injuries. We are available 24/7 for your risk free initial consultation in Beverly Hills, Encino, Glendale, Hermosa Beach, Lancaster, Long Beach, Los Angeles, Marina Del Rey, Redondo Beach, Torrance, Santa Monica, San Fernando Valley, Valencia and Ventura County areas.