If Airbags Did Not Deploy in a Car Accident, Is the Car Company Liable?

Written by Jeremy D. Earle, JD

May 13, 2023


In the event of a collision, when do airbags deploy?

How long does it take for an airbag to fill, protect the driver, and then deflate?

Airbags are a contemporary safety element that may help avoid severe and fatal injuries in the case of an car collision. They are not, however, intended to be used in every car collision. In certain cases, it’s preferable if airbags don’t deploy at all. It’s critical to understand when your airbag should deploy. You may be entitled to bring a lawsuit against the responsible parties if your car airbag fails to deploy in an accident.

Airbags in cars are a very effective safety feature. The deployment of frontal airbags in passenger cars saved an estimated 2,756 lives in 2016. You undoubtedly believe that riding in a car with the latest airbags would keep you and your loved ones safe.

People may suffer severe or fatal injuries if airbags fail due to faulty design, materials, or manufacture.

You may have a case against the car manufacturer, the airbag manufacturer, or other responsible parties if your airbag failed not to deploy after an accident and you were seriously injured.


One of the most painful occurrences a person may go through in a car accident. They often result in major bodily Damage and, in the worst-case scenario, death. In 2017, 402,385 traffic accidents occurred in Colorado. All motor cars are required by law to include specific safety features to lessen or avoid major injuries or deaths.

The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) mandated that all motor cars have passive-restraint systems seatbelts starting in 1989. As a result, the NHTSA mandated that all cars manufactured after 1995 be equipped with twin front airbags. These airbags protect both the driver and the front-seat passenger. Front and side airbags are standard equipment on most new passenger cars, vans, and light trucks.

When used in conjunction with seat belts, airbags are effective. They are not meant to be used instead of seat belts.


So, how do airbags function? Airbags deploy in a head-on crash, preventing your upper body from colliding with the windshield, steering wheel, or dashboard. When your car collides with a solid object, a sensor is activated. The sensor sends out an electric current.

The current then causes non-toxic nitrogen gas to be released, causing the airbag to inflate.

Both frontal and side-impact airbags are meant to deploy in moderate to severe collisions, although they may also deploy in mild collisions. In 20-30 milliseconds, the driver-side airbag ignites and inflates, while the passenger-side airbag takes 30 to 40 milliseconds. To prevent asphyxia, the airbag deflates after deployment.

In other words, before you even realise you’ve been in a car accident, your airbag should deploy, protect you, and then deflate. In the blink of an eye, it occurs.


If an airbag fails to deploy in an accident that causes injury, the occurrence should be reported to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s Office of Defects Investigation.

The nature of the accident, such as speed, other cars involved, impact direction, the design of the airbag system, and the position of the crash sensor, are all elements that go into the activation of an airbag. Airbags aren’t supposed to go off in every crash.

For example, the airbag may not deploy if the following conditions exist:

The accident impact was not significant enough to cause the airbag to inflate. Because a seat belt offers adequate safety and an airbag deployment may inflict more damage than good, airbags are not designed to activate in small fender-benders by design.

Some modern frontal airbag systems automatically switch off the passenger airbag when the car detects a youngster, another small-statured individual, or no occupant in the right front passenger seat. This is also true if the system identifies a youngster or a small-stature individual sitting too near to the side airbag in the passenger seat. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recommended that airbags be replaced as soon as possible after deployment. In a used car, however, the airbag may not have been replaced after a deployment.


Airbags may fail in a variety of ways, including the following:

Airbags may not deploy. The airbags will not deploy in every crash. When a collision is severe enough, though, airbags must deploy. Even if you are wearing a seat belt, failure of airbags to inflate may result in serious injury.

Airbags inadvertently deploy. If your car collides with a curb or a huge

pothole, the airbag may explode unexpectedly. This unintentional deployment might result in injury.

Airbags deploy excessively violently. In rare circumstances, the driver loses control and suffers a crash due to unintentional deployment. When airbags activate in low- speed accidents, however, they are more likely to inflict injury than protect the car’s passengers. Airbags that are too forceful are especially injuryful to tiny children and adults.

Your car is lacking inside airbags or has insufficient side airbags. The federal government does not mandate side airbags or rollover airbags. On the other hand, many cars include side airbags, which aid to lessen injuries in the event of a side-impact crash.

Airbags don’t deploy right away. The airbag may have deployed late if markings on the steering wheel or dashboard show occupant contact or if the steering wheel are twisted. This condition might result in much more injuries than if the bag had never been deployed.


Unfortunately, airbags do not always deploy when a collision happens. They may even explode in certain situations. Such failures might put the driver or passengers in danger of serious injury or even death. People may be wounded in various ways when airbags fail, including bruising, fractured bones, internal bleeding, concussions or brain injuries, organ damage, or death. The following are examples of common injuries:

FACIAL INJURIES: If your car crashes, your face may be smashed into the window, causing lasting scars. Your face is also one of the first portions of your body to come into touch with an airbag. Your facial bones are delicate, and the power of the airbag might hurt your eyes, causing temporary or permanent blindness.

CHEST INJURIES: Broken bones and soft tissue injuries might occur from an airbag failure or malfunction. It may also cause whiplash, ruptured discs, spinal cord injury, sprains, and strains in your neck and back.

INJURIES TO THE ARMS AND LEGS: The same force that causes head injuries may also cause damage to your arms and legs in a crash. Your legs, in particular, have a limited range of motion. Your knees may collide with the dashboard. It’s possible that your arms have been seriously bruised or maybe shattered.

Injuries to the Internal Organs: Internal injuries are common in car accident victims, and they may go unnoticed for days after a collision. Internal bleeding is a possibility for the sufferer. Internal organs, such as the lungs or major blood arteries, may be punctured by fractured ribs.


When an airbag deploys incorrectly or does not deploy at all, the car and/or airbag manufacturer may be held liable for any ensuing injuries. Three legal theories may be used to hold manufacturers accountable for injuries caused by airbags.


Manufacturers of faulty items will be held severely accountable for Damage caused by such products in Colorado, as in most other states. Strict responsibility states that if a product is faulty and causes injury, the manufacturer is responsible for damages even if the maker was unaware of the flaw and could not have avoided it.

Design flaws, manufacturing flaws, and defects caused by a lack of proper notice or instructions are the three categories of defects recognized by the law. When a product is created so that it is unreasonably unsafe when used for its intended purpose, it is said to have a design fault. A manufacturing fault occurs when a product becomes too injuryful due to a weakness in its construction. A warning flaw occurs when a product that can’t be utilized for its intended purpose without being fundamentally unsafe lacks suitable warnings and/or instructions on using it properly.

A plaintiff must only show that the product was defective when it left the manufacturer’s hands, that the plaintiff used the product as intended, and that the defect caused the plaintiff’s injury in a strict product liability claim against a manufacturer of a defective product such as a malfunctioning airbag. The plaintiff does not have to show that the maker was negligent.


A victim of a faulty airbag may be able to file a claim for damages based on the legal principle of negligence. These claims are slightly more difficult to prove in product liability cases than strict liability, but they require a plaintiff to show that:

The plaintiff owed a duty of care to the product.

The manufacturer, designer, or another party breached that duty of care to produce or handle the product.

The breach of duty was the proximate cause of the plaintiff’s injuries. The plaintiff suffered actual damages as a result of the breach of duty.

If, for example, a technician negligently damaged a new airbag while putting it in the plaintiff’s car, the airbag failed to deploy in an accident, the plaintiff might file a claim.


A person who is hurt when an airbag deploys wrongly may have a claim for breach of warranty against a company with whom he or she has a direct contractual connection. These are the three categories of product liability claims that are the most uncommon.

There are three different sorts of guarantees:

There is an express warranty. These are guarantees that are either written into the sales contract or exist because the vendor claimed a product would perform in a specific manner.

Implied merchantability warranty. To be merchantable, a product must be able to meet the expectations of a typical customer. It’s an implicit guarantee, which means it exists even if it’s not written or stated.

Implied fitness guarantee. This sort of guarantee emerges when a customer requests something for a specific reason, and the seller delivers a product that fulfils that need.

In Colorado, the statute of limitations for product liability cases is three years, subject to a discovery rule that states that the clock on a claim starts ticking when the fact of the Damage is found or should have been discovered.

Also, like with any personal injury case, gather as much evidence as possible so that you may hold the airbag manufacturer, car manufacturer, or whoever is liable for your damages accountable.

Airbags are intended for adults of average height and weight. Even if they are in a kid seat, children should not be in the front seat. If you place a youngster under the age of 13 in the front passenger seat, or a person less than 153 cm just over five feet tall, make sure the front airbag is turned off.

Don’t place anything in the car that might interfere with the airbag’s deployment or damage you if the airbag goes off. Phone holders, magnets, and photographs should all be avoided.

A defective airbag might be indicated by an airbag warning light on your dashboard. Do not attempt to repair it on your own. Bring it to your dealer or repair it as soon as possible.

Read your car’s owner’s handbook and get acquainted with your airbag system. You should know what your airbags can and can’t do, as well as where they are.

Find out whether your car is part of the massive Takata airbag recall, which is presently impacting over a million cars across the globe. According to automakers, Colorado has the highest number of Takata airbag-related injuries and fatalities in the country.


Claims for auto product liability may be complicated and difficult to establish. Proving why the airbags did not deploy may be difficult. Experts may be required to examine the car

and the airbag mechanism and determine how and why the airbag failed.

Seek the advice of a product liability attorney who is well-versed in the law. An expert car product liability lawyer can help you understand your choices and navigate the complicated process of researching and prosecuting a product liability claim.

Suppose you or a loved one was injured in an accident because an airbag failed to deploy or was deployed wrongly. In that case, you might be entitled to considerable compensation for your injuries and losses.

You may call the caring personal injury lawyers at Warrior Car Accident Lawyers at 719-300-1100, or contact us online for a free consultation and case review, with offices on both Colorado coasts. Even the most complicated faulty airbag cases may be investigated and prosecuted with our resources and knowledge.

Free Consultation


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