Airbags are supposed to deploy in high-impact cases, and reasonable to expect that some level of injury might occur as part of the unavoidable fact that the airbag doing its job.
However, if an airbag deploys as a result of a low-impact force, then that can be a case of product liability. Pruit v. General Motors Corp. (1999) 72 Cal.App.4th 1480. But whether or not the airbag was in fact defective, is not something that is within the realm of everyday individuals, as obvious as it may seem.
In Pruit, the Court of Appeal said: “The deployment of an airbag is, quite fortunately, not part of the ‘everyday experience’ of the consuming public. Minimum safety standards for airbags are not within the common knowledge of lay jurors. Jurors are in need of expert testimony to evaluate the risks and benefits of the challenged design.
Even Pruitt’s own expert testified that in designing airbags there are tradeoffs involving complex technical issues. The trial court correctly refused to give the consumer expectations instruction.” Pruitt v. General Motors Corp., 72 Cal.App.4th 1480, 1483-84 (Cal. Ct. App. 1999).
But the fact that the airbags deployed, can in fact be a sign that the accident was “high impact”, and injury-causing.