Every day innocent victims are injured or killed in Nevada auto accidents. Our attorneys can help you to get justice and compensation.
The recent Takata airbag recall has many Nevada car owners concerned.
Twelve deaths in the U.S. have been attributed to the devices, which can deploy with too much force and spray metal and other dangerous materials into the vehicle.
But too much force is not the only problem associated with airbags.Sometimes an airbag will fail to deploy when it should, either because of a design defect or because it was not installed properly.
The good news is that Nevada allows plaintiffs to recover for injuries caused by defective products on the basis of “strict liability.”
This means the plaintiff does not need to prove that the defendant was negligent.
To help you understand when you can sue for an airbag-related injury, our Las Vegas, NV personal injury lawyers address the following:
Airbags are designed to prevent injury in moderate to severe frontal or near-frontal crashes.
When this type of crash occurs, the airbag system’s electronic control unit sends out a signal.
This signal starts a chemical reaction that causes a harmless gas to inflate the frontal airbags in less than 1/20th of a second. Side-impact airbags inflate even more quickly.
Because airbags deploy so rapidly, serious injuries can occur if the occupant is too close to an airbag as it inflates.
That is why manufacturers advise sitting as far back from the steering wheel or dashboard as possible and wearing seat belts.
It is also why young children and infant restraints should not be placed in front of an airbag and why short drivers (4′ 6″ tall or less) who need to sit close to the wheel should deactivate their airbag.
Despite their relative success rate, there are a number of scenarios under which airbags can lead to injuries or even wrongful death.
The most common are:
Let us take a quick look at each of these scenarios.
Under Nevada law, companies that design, manufacture, distribute or sell defective products are strictly liable for injuries caused by such defects when the product is used in a reasonably foreseeable manner.
This means a plaintiff does not need to prove that the defendant was negligent in order to prevail in a lawsuit.
To win a lawsuit involving a defective airbag in Nevada, a plaintiff must prove five things:
Evidence of similar accidents involving the same product can help establish the existence of a defect.
However, the mere fact that the defendant has issued a recall is not proof of a problem.
Proving a design defect will usually require expert testimony to establish both what happened during the accident and what should have happened.
For an airbag to work, it must be installed correctly.
Not all body shop personnel are trained in the proper installation of new airbags.
If a body shop (or even a dealer) installs an airbag so that it does not deploy or deploys with too much force, the shop is liable for any resulting injuries.
To be safe, we recommend purchasing a replacement airbag from an authorized dealer and letting them install it.
Federal regulations require vehicles to carry certain warnings about safe airbag usage in the form of either warning labels or audio-visual warning systems.
Many car owners dislike these warnings and remove them.
However, if the owner then sells the vehicle and someone is injured as a result of the missing warning, the seller could be held liable.
Vehicle manufacturers and repair shops will often try to avoid liability by claiming that a customer used an airbag improperly.
For instance, they may offer testimony to show that a customer ignored or removed an airbag warning.
But Nevada follows a modified comparative negligence standard of liability.
Comparative negligence allows a jury to apportion fault between a plaintiff and one or more defendants.
This means that a plaintiff may still be able to recover damages even if his or her actions or inactions contributed to the injury.
Airbags are not meant to be reused after deployment. Some repair shops cut corners by refolding airbags that have deployed.
Or they install cheaper, counterfeit bags or un-deployed bags that have been taken from wrecked cars in junkyards.
Unfortunately, there is no law in Nevada preventing this practice. But both counterfeit and recycled airbags carry a high risk of malfunctioning.
If your airbag was replaced by someone other than the vehicle manufacturer, we recommend getting it inspected and, if necessary, replaced.
To do so, contact your vehicle manufacturer’s call center. You can find the number online.
The cost of replacing a reused or counterfeit airbag may be covered by your auto insurer.
Or if you purchased with a credit card or from a website (such as eBay) that offers buyer protection, you may be protected by that program.
For information on airbag recalls, visit the National Highway Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s airbag FAQ page or contact your closest vehicle dealer.
If you were injured when your airbag deployed or because your airbag failed to deploy in Nevada, you may be entitled to considerable compensatory damages. Contact a Nevada Personal injury attorney who understands the complexities of product liability laws to discuss your options.
A former Los Angeles prosecutor, attorney Neil Shouse graduated with honors from UC Berkeley and Harvard Law School (and completed additional graduate studies at MIT). He has been featured on CNN, Good Morning America, Dr Phil, The Today Show and Court TV. Mr Shouse has been recognized by the National Trial Lawyers as one of the Top 100 Criminal and Top 100 Civil Attorneys.
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