If I recently was in an auto accident and my vehicle airbags did not deploy, is there any legal action I can take?

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If I recently was in an auto accident and my vehicle airbags did not deploy, is there any legal action I can take?

I was driving on and struck a vehicle in the rear going about forty-five mph i struck a vehicle on the right side bumper my vehicle was smashed almost to the cabin as well as driver side damage. My vehicle was totaled and my vehicle was equipped with every air bag available none deployed. I suffered large contusions and abrasions. My vehicle was still under warranty. Does the manufacturer have any liability in this?

Asked on September 1, 2011 under Personal Injury, Texas


S.L,. Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

This area of law is product liability.

You would have a claim against both the manufacturer and seller of the vehicle for the defective product since the airbags did not deploy.  Your claim would be based on negligence and strict liability.

Negligence is the failure to exercise due care (that degree of care in this case that a  reasonable vehicle manufacturer would have exercised under the same or similar circumstances to prevent foreseeable harm by manufacturing a safe product).  The failure of the airbags to deploy might be a design defect or a manufacturing defect in your particular car.  Negligence requires duty (of due care) mentioned above, breach of duty of care (failure of airbags to deploy), actual cause, proximate cause, and damages.  Actual cause means but for the failure of the airbags to deploy, would you have been injured?  If the answer is no, actual cause has been established.  Proximate cause means were there any unforeseeable intervening events which would relieve the manufacturer of liability?  If the answer is no, proximate cause has been established.  Damages means the amount you are seeking to recover as compensation.  Damages would include your medical bills, compensation for pain and suffering, and documentation of any wage loss.  Compensation for the medical bills is straight reimbursement.  Compensation for wage loss is straight reimbursement.  The medical reports will document the nature and extent of your injuries and will be used to determine compensation for pain and suffering.  Compensation for pain and suffering is an amount in addition to the medical bills.

In addition to a cause of action (claim) for negligence in your lawsuit, you would also have a separate cause of action (claim) for strict liability.  Strict liability means liability whether or not there is due care.

Your lawsuit should name both the manufacturer and seller as defendants.  The seller of a defective product is liable even if the seller could not have discovered the defect.

Prior to filing your lawsuit, it may be possible to settle the case with the insurance carriers for both the manufacturer and seller.  If the case is settled with both defendants, no lawsuit is filed.  If the case is settled with one defendant, the lawsuit proceeds against the remaining defendant only.  If the case is NOT settled with either defendant, your lawsuit for negligence and strict liability should name both manufacturer and seller as defendants.

If you are dissatisfied with settlement offers from the insurance carriers, reject the settlement offers and file your lawsuit.  You will need to file your lawsuit prior to the expiration of the applicable statute of limitations or you will lose your rights forever in the matter.

Your product liability claim against the manufacturer and seller of the vehicle does NOT change the fact that you are liable for the property damage and personal injury claim(s) of the occupants of the vehicle you rear-ended.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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