Forensic Computer Experts Comment on Unintended Airbag Deployment


Forensic Computer Expert WitnessThis case involves the death of a driver in South Dakota as a result of an airbag malfunction. The air bag is suspected of prematurely deploying, sending metal debris into the driver’s face and causing driver to go off road for 300+ feet before hitting a fallen tree limb and flipping over. The manufacturer has inspected the vehicle and confirmed that the airbag was defective. Plaintiff’s counsel is seeking an objective expert well versed in airbag function, digital forensics, and on-board computer systems that could help determine the factors contributing to the crash.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Are you capable of accessing the car’s onboard data? If the necessary specialized equipment were provided to you, would you be able to use it?
  • 2. Describe any experience you have as an expert witness. Have you worked on cases involving airbag malfunction in the past?
  • 3. Have you lectured or been published on this subject?

Expert Witness Response E-000241

The airbag failure with this subject car seems to be related to the a particular airbag company’s recalls. The year make and model of the subject car will prevent anyone except for the manufacturer from downloading and interpreting the EDR. The Federal Office of Defect Investigation (ODI) is very interested in any fatality caused by the fracturing of the housing throughout the United States. I have experience with this type of failure, as well as with electric downloads and other product related recall investigations.

Expert Witness Response E-029764

In this particular case, it sounds like the onboard computer system, rather than the airbag itself, would be at fault here. I have examined airbag malfunctions in the past, and have been involved in litigation against car manufacturers. From what I understand that the onboard systems can only be read by the supplier. The manufacturer should be able to provide what we need in discovery, but from experience I highly doubt they will be cooperative.

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