$5 million settlement
We recently won a $5 million settlement for a wrongful death & injury case to survivor due to car crash.
Indianapolis Airbag Attorney
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that tens of thousands of lives have been saved by front airbags in cars and trucks. Front airbags have been required equipment in new passenger vehicles since the 1999 model year. Side airbags have also been found to dramatically reduce the risk of death for drivers and passengers. Most new passenger vehicles have side airbags to meet the required level of head and torso protection in side-impact crashes.
Although they are intended to save lives and prevent serious injuries, airbags sometimes inflate spontaneously without cause and seriously harm vehicle occupants. If you or your loved one was injured or killed by an exploding or otherwise defective airbag in a car, SUV or truck, an Indianapolis airbag injury lawyer at Stephenson Rife can help you obtain compensation for your loss. We have been successfully litigating injury cases in Indianapolis and across the state since 1982. Call us at (317) 680-2501 to schedule a free consultation about your accident.
Why Choose Our Indianapolis Airbag Attorneys?
Stephenson Rife has an outstanding reputation for winning injury lawsuits and securing the largest payouts possible. Attorney Mike Stephenson has more than 40 years of legal experience and has won many large personal injury claims, totaling millions of dollars. Recently named a Super Lawyer in Indiana, Mike Stephenson is one of the most experienced trial lawyers in the state. He has served as lead trial counsel in more than 100 civil jury trials and has overseen litigation in 18 states around the country.
The legal team at Stephenson Rife also includes Attorney Brady Rife, who takes case preparation seriously and prepares each case as though it may be tried in court. Some of the firm’s most successful cases include winning a $48 million settlement against a large corporation in a fatal vehicle crash and a $14 million settlement against a national trucking company. We have achieved outstanding case results, and we are proud of our many satisfied clients. We also offer an attractive attorney referral program.
How We Can Help
There are many ways our law firm can help clients build a strong case against defendants in an airbag injury case. We will:
- Review police and accident reports
- Gather and review evidence
- Collect surveillance video, when available
- Interview eyewitnesses
- Gather and analyze medical records
- Research applicable statutes and case law
- Hire expert witnesses, if needed
- Prepare you and attend depositions with you
- Draft and file all necessary paperwork with the court
- Negotiate aggressively on your behalf during mediation
- Argue your case before a jury, if necessary.
Each case is different, but no matter what your circumstances, we’ll create a legal strategy and build a powerful claim to help you get the justice you deserve.
How Airbags Work
Airbags are stretchable materials tightly compressed into small areas of the vehicle. Crash sensors monitor things like sudden stopping, impact, and seat occupant status. These sensors relay data to the airbag control unit. Once the control unit determines there has been an accident, it sends a signal to the airbag inflator system which sets off a chemical charge producing an explosion of nitrogen gas to fill up the airbag. All of this takes place almost instantaneously, in milliseconds, and with the force of nearly 200 miles per hour. When any aspect of this safety system malfunctions, catastrophic injuries can occur. Lives can be lost or forever changed.
An airbag injury lawyer answers frequently asked questions.
Our Indianapolis airbag injury lawyers help thousands of clients secure financial damages after vehicle accidents. We hear many of the same questions from clients about airbags, so we’ve provided answers here.
Airbags are credited with saving lives across the nation, often preventing front-seat passengers from slamming into the dashboard or hitting the steering wheel upon impact. Front airbags reduce driver fatalities in frontal crashes by 29% and fatalities of front-seat passengers age 13 and older by 32%, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Side airbags that protect the head reduce a car driver’s risk of death in driver-side crashes by 37% and an SUV driver’s risk by 52%.
Yes. There have been problems with airbags inflating accidentally, causing driver injury or death. High-profile automotive suppliers like Takata Corp. have been accused of producing defective airbags, and auto manufacturers like Toyota and Honda have issued recalls of airbags over the years for safety reasons.
The most common airbags are front and side airbags. But engineers have also developed rear-window curtain airbags to protect back-seat passengers in rear-end collisions, far-side airbags to keep drivers and front-seat passengers from hitting each other in a crash, and inflatable safety belts to reduce rear-seat chest injuries.
Some of the largest airbag manufacturers include Autoliv Inc., Robert Bosch GmbH, Daicel Corporation, Toyoda Gosei Corporation Ltd., and Joyson Safety System.
Airbags are intended to prevent injury to drivers and passengers by inflating during a crash. But sometimes they spontaneously inflate for no reason and can cause severe injury.
Damages You May Be Entitled To
If you’ve been injured by an airbag during in a vehicle accident in Indiana, you may be entitled to various compensation, including economic and non-economic damages. Some of these include:
- Property damage
- Medical and rehabilitative costs (current and future)
- Lost wages and future lost earnings
- Mental anguish and emotional distress
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Wrongful death.
The amount of damages a person is awarded depends on the severity of harm and the skill of their attorney in negotiating or litigating their claim.
Causes of Airbag Failures and Injuries
The crash sensors are the key to airbag success. If they malfunction, the airbags may not deploy when they should. On the other hand, faulty sensors can cause airbags to deploy when there hasn’t been a crash. Airbags have been known to deploy when a vehicle hits a bad pothole at high speed or when crossing railroad tracks.
Most recently, millions of vehicles worldwide have been recalled because of defective airbags which inflate suddenly and inexplicably or with such force that metal shrapnel is sent into the occupant’s face and torso. Several deaths and more than 100 injuries have been linked to Takata airbags in recent years.
Airbags can also cause injuries because of the size or position of the person in the vehicle. Children under 12 are especially at risk of air bag injuries, as are drivers of short stature because they generally sit closer to the steering wheel.
Indiana Negligence Laws
Indiana applies the legal theory of modified comparative negligence when determining fault in a personal injury claim. (Indiana Code Title 34, Section 51-2-5, et seq.). Also known as the “51% fault” rule, a person must be less than 51% at fault for a vehicle collision to file an injury claim. If you are awarded damages for your injuries, the court will reduce your recovery by the percentage of fault that is yours. For example, if it is determined that you are 10% at fault for a collision and the other party is 90% at fault and the total award is $200,000, then you will receive $180,000 (the total less 10%).
If the airbag is defective and your injury was caused by a spontaneous and unanticipated inflation, then you may be entitled to file a product liability claim.
Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Claims
The statute of limitations on personal injury cases is two years in Indiana. This means a victim has just 24 months to file a lawsuit. The clock starts ticking on the date of the vehicle accident or injury, with just a few exceptions. If you miss this deadline, you risk having your case dismissed by a judge. The Indiana personal injury statute of limitations is codified at Indiana Code section 34-11-2-4.
There are a few exceptions to the statute of limitations. The “discovery rule” says that when a victim is not immediately aware of their injury (for example, spine injury or internal bleeding don’t present for many weeks), the clock on the statute of limitations doesn’t begin until the victim discovers, or should have discovered, that they’ve been injured.
Common Injuries Caused by Airbags
Some of the common injuries associated with airbags are:
- Abrasion to the face, chest or upper extremities
- Bruising to the face, chest, upper extremities, knees or internal organs
- Fracture of face, skull, ribs, spine
- Burns on the chest, upper extremities or hands
- Concussion or traumatic brain injury
- Lacerations of arteries or organs
- Rupture inside the heart muscle
- Eye injuries
- Hearing loss or ear trauma
- Internal bleeding
- Irritation of the skin, also called airbag dermatitis
- Scarring and disfigurement.
If you’ve been injured by an airbag, seek medical attention right away. Even if you think you’re fine, get checked out by your family doctor or at an urgent care center.
Call an Indianapolis Airbag Injury Attorney Today
If you, a child, or other loved one has sustained serious injuries after an airbag suddenly inflates, you probably have mounting medical bills and are missing out on daily activities. Airbag injuries can even cause permanent impairment. The vehicle accident lawyers at Stephenson Rife may be able to help you obtain compensation for your injuries or loss due to a defective or malfunctioning airbag. For a free consultation, call us at (317) 680-2501.