Car Airbag Fails To Deploy During Highway Accident


Automotive Engineering ExpertThis case involves a fatal motor vehicle accident in Minnesota. The 38-year-old female plaintiff was driving on the interstate expressway in a 65 mph zone.  While she was driving at the speed limit, she was rear-ended by a teenager who had unintentionally accelerated while texting. The crash caused the plaintiff to hit her head on the inside of the car. In spite of the impact, the airbag did not deploy. The plaintiff subsequently developed a subdural hematoma and passed away. An expert in automotive engineering was sought to inspect the car and determine whether or not the car was defective and evaluate its crashworthiness.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Do you have familiarity with the subject matter described above?
  • 2. Are you familiar with uploading/downloading blackbox systems?

Expert Witness Response E-038582

I have evaluated many accidents involving motor vehicles. I have performed crush measurements and calculated equivalent barrier speeds of vehicles, and have used NHTSA crash-test data to determine the resultant energy dissipated in the subject vehicles. I am a certified CDR analyst and have the equipment, software, and expertise to download the subject vehicles “black box” data. I have performed multiple downloads on a wide range of vehicles and I will be able to inspect the vehicle and determine the damage from the impact. Airbag deployment is specified by the manufacturer. There are a lot of factors involved in deployment. If this is a new vehicle, I would assume it had side curtain airbags, which it sounds may have prevented the impact to the occupant’s head. A full accident reconstruction should provide enough information to determine the change in velocity of the subject vehicle, which can then be compared to known airbag deployment information. Examination of the subject vehicle will help to determine its crashworthiness.

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