Motor vehicle airbags are approaching their 7th birthday. In 1951, John W. Hetrick filed for a patent for the devices specifically for motor vehicle use. One year later, the U.S. Patent office granted his request.
Since that time, the use of airbags grew sharply and today are a standard feature in all motor vehicles. Within milliseconds, a multitude of crash sensors detects a collision, sends information to the electronic controller unit (ECU) and deploys the airbag.
From 1987-2017, data from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that airbags saved 50,000 lives.
When technology results in tragedy
Yet, as with any car safety feature, the effectiveness of an airbag is only as good as when it deploys, which is not always the case.
Serious injuries have actually occurred due to mechanical issues surrounding malfunctioning sensors, faulty on-board computer readings, and more.
When defects such as these occur – particularly if the vehicle was still under warranty – the auto manufacturer could be liable under the law for any injury or death. Seeking the help of an experienced attorney with knowledge in this area of law is advised.