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Motor Vehicle Defects A Concern In 1996 Ford Taurus Airbag

Most motor vehicle defect attorneys will agree that the 1996 Ford Taurus airbags have been a concern. In 2000, 29-year-old Mayling Semidey was driving home from an errand in her 1996 Ford Taurus when she accidentally struck a concrete retaining wall. The low speed impact--about 9 mph--caused the defective air bag to deploy and resulted in fatal chest injuries to Ms. Mayling. The single mother left behind a now 7-year old son.

The Semidey family sued Ford, claiming that the air bag in Semidey's Ford Taurus was defective, since it was designed to deploy in head-on crashes of 14 mph or greater, not 9 mph or less. Ford's own experts conceded that the air bag caused the fatal chest injuries sustained by Ms. Semidey, and that she would have sustained only minor personal injuries had the air bag not deployed.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has investigated numerous low speed air bag-induced fatalities involving first generation air bags installed in cars throughout the 1990's. These low speed car accidents fatalities primarily involve physically smaller women drivers who are close to the air bag when it deploys, and small children who ride in the front seat. Regrettably, scant attention has been paid to drivers like Mayling Semidey, who at 5'9" and weighing 150 lbs. was above average in physical stature, and who, an eyewitness said, was wearing a seat belt.

"This simply supports the contention that air bag defects can be lethal for people of any size if the person is too close to the bag when it is deployed," said nationally recognized product liability lawyer, Brian Chase.

The family's auto product liability attorneys claimed that a design that allowed the Taurus air bags to deploy under10 miles per hour exposed Ms. Semidey to an unreasonable risk. The jury agreed, finding the air bag system for the 1996 Ford Taurus to be defective, and finding Ford negligent for causing the death of Ms. Semidey. The $3.3 million was awarded to Ms. Semidey's 7-year old son.

"There are a wide range of problems with current airbag deployment systems," explained Brian Chase. "Two common product liability defects that can be potentially lethal to anyone in a low speed car crash are 1) lack of internal tethers, and 2) car crash sensors that trigger at too low a crash speed. In the first auto product defect, the airbag deploys in a large rounded basketball shape that is potentially more injurious--rather than a flatter tethered pillow shape that's also further from the driver or passenger. In the second product defect, car crash sensors needlessly trigger in minor low-speed car collisions of only 7 to 15 miles per hour. The problem here is that car crash sensors, which may be mounted on brackets attached to the radiator shroud near the car's headlights, can sometimes generate a false signal of a major crash. The signal could also experience a delay so that the airbag either inflates needlessly or too late during the car accident."

Nationally recognized products liability lawyer, John Bisnar added, "Since 1990, more than 150 people have been killed by airbags. Many of these deaths are the result of airbags that deployed in low-speed car collisions, striking an individual--usually a passenger who may have been sitting too close to the airbag. People need to understand that airbags deploy with a tremendous amount of force--which propels them at about 200 miles per hour. This can be lethal to some passengers, especially children and smaller adults."

If you or a loved one has suffered serious injuries as the result of a defective auto part or vehicle, contact the experienced California auto products liability attorneys at Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys for a free consultation. We will use our extensive knowledge and resources to achieve the best possible results for you and your family.


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