Imagine if you are driving along a country highway on a cloudy day approaching an intersection. You do not have a stop sign or traffic light, so you drive right on into the intersection. From out of nowhere, you are suddenly broadsided by another car that did not stop at his stop sign. Your head is slammed violently into the side of the car, causing you severe injuries and even some cognitive impairment. You later come to find out that you would likely have not even had a head injury if the car would have been equipped with a side impact airbag.
Side airbags with head protection reduce the risk of a fatality by over forty percent in side impact crashes. Lawyers may consider claims against car manufacturers based on failure to install airbags in paralysis, head injury, or death cases. This is especially true when the defendant is uninsured or underinsured and the victim does not have sufficient UM or UIM coverage.
It will be important for the lawyer to review the medical records and speak with medical and even accident reconstruction experts to verify that if there had been side airbags, the injury would not have been as severe or the death would not have occurred. In claims against car manufacturers for failure to install airbags, one of the biggest challenges can be arguing that the manufacturer should have installed side airbags in the car.
For much older cars, the standard was to not have side airbags, so arguing that a 1990s era Ford Escort should have had side impact airbags probably won’t get you very far. Likewise, for newer cars, many of them have side impact airbags and so the claims will be non-existent if the airbags were installed in the victim’s car.
The sweet spot is the case of a car from the Mid-2000s and up through the present day where the car was not equipped with side impact airbags and where the injury would not have occurred if there had been side impact airbags. This way the lawyer can argue that the manufacturer knew about the technology, that installing the airbags was feasible, but that the manufacturer simply chose not to install the airbags for other reasons, i.e. cost.
The car manufacturer is sure to fight these claims tooth and nail. They will blame the drivers, argue it would have been impossible to install the airbags in that car model, and say that they offer consumers choices of safety features and the consumer chose this car without the side airbags. There is no doubt that these cases against car manufacturers require some skilled lawyering, especially on the part of the plaintiff.