What Are My Legal Rights After an Airbag Failure in Florida?

It’s bad enough to suffer a traffic accident. It’s even worse when one of the primary safety features you depended on fails you just when you need it most. Regardless of whose fault your car accident was, you might have a product liability claim if your injuries were caused or worsened by the failure of an airbag.

How an Airbag Works

Car airbags are air cushions that inflate when sensors detect a front-end impact serious enough to justify triggering them. Many motor vehicles are equipped with front and side airbags, though the latter type isn’t technically required by law.

Liability for the Accident

Just because your airbags failed doesn’t mean another party was responsible for the accident. Regardless of whether they were or not, liability for the traffic accident itself is measured by the injuries you would have suffered even if the airbags did deploy. To this extent, you probably need to file a claim against your PIP insurance for medical expenses and a portion of your lost earnings. PIP doesn’t cover non-economic damages but is no-fault coverage you can utilize no matter whose fault the crash was.

“Serious” Injuries

However, if your injuries were “serious,” as Florida law defines that term, you can file an airbag malfunction lawsuit against the appropriate defendant based on product liability. In that case, you won’t be subject to PIP’s coverage limitations ($10,000) or its limitation to economic damages

You will be able to claim non-economic damages as well as economic damages. Non-economic damages include compensation for pain and suffering and other intangible psychological losses. These can add up to far more than the total amount of your economic damages. 

How Product Liability Claims Work in Florida

Florida personal injury law includes product liability based on strict liability. This type of product liability is usually the easiest type of claim to prove.

The Three Types of Product Defects

To win a product liability lawsuit, you must prove that the product in question (in this case, the airbag) contained at least one of the following types of defects:

  • A design defect;
  • A manufacturing defect; or
  • A warning defect (inadequate product warnings).

This defect must render the product “unreasonably dangerous,” which is almost a given if the defect prevented the airbag from inflating during a crash.

Strict Liability

Florida law recognizes three different types of product liability claims: strict liability, negligence, and breach of warranty. Among these, strict liability is the most popular.

The Product’s Chain of Distribution

In a strict product liability claim, you can sue any party in the product’s chain of distribution except for the end user. A good lawyer will be able to think of multiple possible defendants if the facts of the case warrant. Following are some possible defendants in an airbag non-deployment case:

  • The airbag manufacturer;
  • The airbag designers;
  • Whoever tested and installed the airbag;
  • The distributors of the airbag; and/or
  • The manufacturer of the automobile.

One of the reasons for naming multiple defendants is to find one with enough financial resources to pay your claim.

The Elements of Proof

To win a product liability claim based on a defective airbag, you must prove the following:

  • The airbag had a design, manufacturing, or warning defect.
  • The airbags should have been deployed. In other words, the accident was serious enough to trigger deployment absent a defect.
  • You didn’t modify the car’s airbags.
  • The airbag’s defect actually injured you. 

You must prove all of these elements to win. Note that you can prove all of the foregoing elements without directly establishing that the defendant was at fault. That’s why this type of claim is known as “strict liability.”

You Might Need a Lawyer To Help You Enforce Your Claim

A claim is nothing but an abstract legal right to compensation. Although personal injury claims arise automatically, the satisfaction of claims does not. If your accident was serious enough for the failure of your car’s airbag to matter, you probably need the assistance of one or more airbag failure lawyers to file an airbag “failure to deploy” lawsuit.

Contact Our Product Liability Law Firm – Lopez Accident Injury Attorneys

Contact a St. Petersburg product liability lawyer at Lopez Accident Injury Attorneys and schedule a free case review today.

Lopez Accident Injury Attorneys

700 7th Ave N Suite B
St. Petersburg, FL 33701
(727) 933-0015