Auto manufacturers: Failure to install side air bags can kill

Most Missouri residents are aware of just how deadly head-on collisions can be but often fail to realize that side collisions can also pose a huge risk to them and their families.  Side impacts run a close second to head-on accidents when it comes to fatally injuring vehicle occupants.  Statistics reveal that 9,000 Americans lost their lives in 2003 due to car crashes which involved side impacts.  This staggering number represents nearly 30 percent of deaths that can be attributed to motor vehicle accidents involving cars, light trucks, vans, and SUVs.  For many families who have lost loved ones in this type of car crash, it may be beneficial to consult with a personal injury attorney to discover if they can file a wrongful death lawsuit in civil court.

Side Impacts Particularly Dangerous to Nearside Occupants

Predictably enough, the vehicle occupants who run the highest risk from suffering fatalities in side impact crashes are the nearside occupant — the individual who is sitting closest to where the other vehicle actually hits.  One reason that this is such a dangerous place to be in a side impact is because of the sheer lack of space and protection that separates these occupants from the other vehicles slamming into their own.  The unfortunate truth is that even those who habitually wear their seat belts may not be able to save themselves from a fatal brain injury or other significant injuries in this type of collision.

This makes it critical for vehicles to possess side impact air bags when at all possible.  Side air bags work using electronic sensors that can detect the severity of a crash and then signal whether the unit should deploy.  The inflation of an air bag occurs in the blink of an eye, taking no more than a fraction of a second in most cases.  Once the air bag deploys, it provides a crucial layer of protection between the nearside occupant and the oncoming vehicle.

Two types of side air bags are currently used:  one geared toward protecting the head and one focused on protecting the torso.  These are pretty self-explanatory in purpose, and auto manufacturers first rolled out torso air bags back in the 1990s.  That being said, head-cushioning air bags play an even more critical role when it comes to lowering the risk of side impact fatalities.

This is because between 37 percent and 54 percent of side impact injuries which can be classified as life-threatening are caused by head injuries.  Head-protecting air bags not only decrease the risk of suffering fatal injuries in a side impact, they can also significantly lower the chance of suffering from a paralyzing neck injury.  Modern-day air bags are much safer than earlier versions, which deployed in a less safe manner.  Studies have shown that newer side air bags are not known to cause serious or life-threatening injuries to adults or, even more importantly, to smaller and more vulnerable children.

Why Do Auto Manufacturers Fail to Install Side Air Bags?

Statistics do not lie:  Nearside occupants who travel in vehicles with head-protecting air bags are as much as 42 percent less likely to perish in side impacts.  According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, nearly 1,800 lives could be saved on an annual basis by one simple step:  installing side air bags in every vehicle on the road.

So why, then, do certain auto manufacturers fail to take this simple yet critical step which can save so many lives?  Some might argue they fail to install side air bags in all vehicles as a short-sighted attempt to save money at the expense of costing innocent victims their lives.

If you or a loved one has suffered from catastrophic injuries or death as a result of an auto manufacturer’s failure to install side air bags, you have legal options to pursue.  You may be able to file a personal injury or wrongful death lawsuit in a Missouri civil court to seek financial restitution for any medical or other related expenses caused by the fatal collision.  In some cases, it may be appropriate to seek punitive damages to send a clear message to car manufacturers that they cannot cut corners to save money when it means putting innocent victims in harm’s way.

Contact Our Law Firm Now If You or a Loved One Has Been Hurt Due to a Failure to Install Side Air Bags

It can be important to act quickly in order to preserve evidence that can be crucial to your case.  I am an experienced personal injury attorney with decades of experience in trying cases and I am not afraid to take on companies like auto manufacturers.  Please call my St. Louis, Missouri personal injury car accident law firm toll-free at 1-888-586-7041 as soon as possible so we can schedule a free consultation at your earliest convenience.  It costs you nothing to discuss your case with me, and if you do choose to hire my firm to represent you, you will pay us nothing unless — and only if — we are successful in gaining compensation on your behalf.

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