A couple in a car after an accident, having sustained injuries from their airbags deploying.After brakes and seatbelts, airbags are the third most effective method of avoiding injuries in an accident. Where brakes avoid accidents altogether by controlling speed, and seatbelts consistently prove their use by restraining drivers and passengers during a crash, airbags offer valuable secondary protection that minimizes the gravity of injuries sustained.

This trifecta of redundancies working in conjunction saves countless lives every year. But sometimes, the trust we place in these systems is misplaced, and we suffer harm to our bodies when they fail.

Especially in the case of airbags – the last line of defense among the three – a malfunction can mean failure to avoid an injury. In the worst case, a malfunction can mean an injury caused by the safety feature itself.

Who do you turn to when this happens? We at Bert McDowell Injury Law say it’s time to get a Hartford airbag injury lawyer.

What Makes a Good Hartford Airbag Injury Attorney?

Finding the right Hartford airbag injury lawyer means looking for certain skills and traits they possess that will benefit your case. Some qualities, of course, are subjective, but generally speaking, here is a list of what to look for:

Expertise in Defective Product Cases

Airbags, when used in tandem with other vehicle safety measures, are meant to protect against injuries and not cause them. This usually means that when an airbag causes an injury, it can be traced to a defect in the product.

This means your lawyer should ideally have expertise in defective product cases, particularly regarding car safety devices. This is because, unlike other personal injury cases, fault in a defective product case can often be more complicated to assign, as there are often multiple entities to hold liable: the manufacturer, the distributor or retailer, or the marketer.

Here are some common indicators that a lawyer is versed in in such cases:

  • Previous Experience: Look for a lawyer who has handled, or at least was part of, a team that has handled and successfully settled a defective product claim or won a case that made it to trial. Lawyers who have firsthand experience of such cases are always preferable to those without.
  • Knowledge of Relevant Laws: Federal and state laws are massive bulks of information, and it is nearly impossible for any single person to have mastery of all of them. You need an attorney who specializes in this specific niche and is aware of which laws matter for your case.
      • CT Gen Stat § 52-572m defines important terms such as “product seller” and “harm.”
      • CT Gen Stat § 52-572n establishes product liability claims as a viable civil action against a company whose products caused harm even if the individual did not enter a contract with the product seller.
      • CT Gen Stat § 52-572q establishes the liability of sellers for a lack of adequate labeling, warning, or instructions.
      • CT Gen Stat § 14-106d directly addresses unsafe, counterfeit, and subpar airbags, the sale, manufacture, importation, or installation of which are considered unfair and deceptive trade practices.
      • The Connecticut Statute of Limitations gives a claimant a three-year window from an injury caused by a faulty airbag to file a claim or a lawsuit.
  • Understanding of Car Safety Technology: An attorney who understands airbags, their mechanics, and their deployment holds an advantage when confronting manufacturers. They cannot be blindsided by jargon and excuses that liable parties might use to get you to accept a lower amount.
    • They should be aware of airbag systems and components, including the different types of airbags, the sensors and triggers that deploy them, and the inflation systems that drive them. Knowing the strengths and weaknesses of each combination, as well as the potential points of failure, can help your claim stand up against the at-fault party’s defenses at the negotiation table.
    • They need to know the timing, force, and pressure of different airbags and how these factors affect the human body. Comparing this information against your injuries can help you identify what injuries were caused by the airbag and/or its malfunction.

Legal Skills

You should expect any personal injury lawyer to have competent legal skills. This means guiding their client through the entirety of the legal process, from investigation to settlement, and even taking things to trial if necessary.

  • Documentation and Investigation: While the insurance company will undertake an investigation to help them determine how much you are owed, this investigation is often biased in favor of the company, as they are a business looking to maximize profit and minimize losses. A capable attorney will also investigate your claim and analyze the evidence but geared toward your interests instead to ensure your rights are protected.
  • Negotiation: Negotiating with a Hartford insurance company can be intimidating, especially for first-time claimants with no shortage of accident victims who file a claim walking away with insufficient money to cover their injuries or, sometimes, with no money at all. A good airbag injury lawyer doesn’t fall for intimidation tactics and can build a case that stands up against any scrutiny the liable party or their insurer might throw its way, allowing them to negotiate a fair amount for you.
  • Litigation: Sometimes, negotiations fail no matter how hard either side tries. In this case, a good attorney can take your case to court and advocate for your compensation in front of a judge and jury.

Communication and Client Connection

More than just technical skill, a lawyer’s ability to provide ease for a client throughout a claims process hinges heavily on their people skills. This means empathy, understanding, accessibility, and communication matter to any attorney worth their salt because they know the importance of your mental state and well-being during a tough time.

Empathy and understanding are necessary, for example, because of how physically and emotionally draining any injury – airbag injuries included – can be. You need an attorney who is sensitive to your needs and can adapt as necessary, revolving their schedule around you without compromising the quality of the service they provide.

You should also feel comfortable communicating with your legal representative. This means they are only a phone call or email away to answer any questions you may have regarding your case.

The presence of these qualities means the lawyer knows to focus on your well-being and not simply on financial compensation. This is the mindset of a professional who treats you as a person and not a paycheck, which is a stance often opposite to that of the insurance adjuster assigned to your case.

Who Is Liable for My Airbag Injury?

The person or entities liable for an airbag are not always the same across different cases. The specific causes of malfunctions are the primary determinant of fault, but there are other factors that might affect the distribution of fault (as Connecticut follows a modified comparative negligence system).

The Automobile Manufacturer

An automobile manufacturer can be held liable for an injury in question if the airbag system itself is of poor design and prone to malfunction or excessive force during deployment. Federal law provides minimum safety requirements for airbags to meet in 49 CFR § 571.208, and the failure to meet these standards means the manufacturer may be held liable for injury should the airbag fail.

In addition to this, quality control of an automobile coming off the line has to be sufficient to catch any manufacturing defects. Again, the manufacturer of the vehicle may be held responsible if improper assembly or faulty components make it to the end user.

Finally, it is the vehicle manufacturer’s responsibility to warn consumers when potential risks are discovered. Warnings, product recalls, and disclaimers against further use (in that order) are often the only acceptable response to the discovery of faulty safety devices in vehicles, and as such, companies can face liability if they fail to do so.

The Airbag Component Manufacturer

Sometimes, points of failure are the responsibility of component manufacturers rather than the company that assembles the vehicles. Just as with car assembly lines, component manufacturers can be held liable for a design defect, a manufacturing defect, or a failure to warn the car manufacturer (their customer).

Retailers and Service Providers

Retailers and service providers can be held liable if the airbag was not installed or serviced correctly at the moment a vehicle is handed over to the customer. This also applies to repair facilities, as any previous repairs that contribute to a malfunction have to be accounted for.

When You Need a Hartford Airbag Injury Law Firm, Call Bert McDowell Injury Law

You trusted an airbag to protect you, and it caused you injury. Now trust Bert McDowell Injury Law to get justice and compensation for the harm you sustained.

Bert McDowell Injury Law is your advocate after an airbag injury. Since our founding, we have provided the citizens of Hartford with our services and have consistently secured six-, seven-, and even eight-figure damage claims for personal injury victims in need of aid.

You, too, can maximize your claim when you call us at (203) 633-7449 for a free case evaluation. Contact us today to get started.

Don’t hesitate! It’s time to Bring On Bert!