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Car Crashworthiness: When (If Ever) Do Airbags Deploy in Rear-End Collisions?

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Phoenix, AZ: Miraculously, Lynn H. walked away from a multiple car crash; her car was so badly mangled even the police couldn't fathom why she wasn't seriously injured after the airbags in her 2004 Toyota Corolla didn't deploy—another car that miserably failed car crashworthiness.

Before buying her car, Lynn H. did a lot of research to find a car with optimum safety features: she read crash reports, car crash tests and crash safety reports. Now Lynn is considering [legal action] against Toyota: none of the airbags deployed but her car was totaled. Obviously, car crashworthiness tests are not [adequate].

Car Crashworthiness airbag deployed"The usual dinner time traffic jam on a major highway here in Arizona caused several vehicles to come to a complete stop," says Lynn. "Besides my car, there were two vehicles in front of me that had also stopped. I had just come off a ramp and anticipated the slowdown but the driver behind me had no idea that she had to slow down.

"She hit me so hard that it pushed my car into the vehicle in front and in turn, that vehicle pushed another, and another. All told, it was a four-car collision. I have no way of knowing how fast she was going-- she was merging into traffic that was stopped --but the police on the scene couldn't believe the kind of damage done to my vehicle. Three cars were totaled, including hers.

"All of us had slight injuries. I hit my steering wheel with both hands and my head hit my hands. Then I looked around - neither airbag in my 2004 Toyota Corolla went off and everyone else's did—I saw the woman directly in front and the woman behind who hit me. She had a Ford Focus and in front was an older model Mercury. I was amazed that the vehicle's airbags in front of me deployed because I had taken the brunt of the collision."

It could have been so much worse for Lynn. Her foot was on the brake when she was rear-ended and when she hit the car in front of her, "My engine revved up as though I had slammed on the gas," she says. "It was accelerating even though I was pounding on the brakes and the engine kept revving, even though it was going nowhere."

Lynn was panic-stricken. She couldn't get out of the car and she couldn't turn off the ignition. "I finally turned the keys and forced the car into 'park' position," she explains. When Lynn finally got out of her car, the police told her to stay clear—they didn't even let her go back to get her insurance out of the glove box. Instead, they sprayed her car with fire retardant.

"The police told me it was unsafe—something was seriously wrong," says Lynn. The automobile crash occurred September 12th and she is still shaken up. "I went to ER
two days later (I don't have medical insurance) for a few x rays - there are no broken bones but I have a problem with my lower back. I have now been advised to get an MRI for my lower back," Lynn says. But her car insurance only covers $1,000 medical expenses and the police report hasn't been released yet. " But I just received a call from my claims adjustor; he said the person behind me is accepting liability," adds Lynn.

Whatever happens with her car insurance, Lynn will never buy another Toyota Corolla.
"I was mainly concerned about the airbags because safety was the reason I bought this car," she says. "I drive my young niece and nephew around and won't feel safe again in a Toyota Corolla. I spent a long time researching this car and never heard of a problem with airbags.

"It didn't occur to me until I left the accident how lucky I am. These cars crunched together—if the airbag deployed I wouldn't have hit the steering wheel with such force and that has affected my lower back. It scares me to know that some cars fail crashworthiness, especially in real life situations. I wish there was a better system so that rear impact will cause the airbags to deploy. The only reason I was able to put my hands in front of my face was because I was stopped. I sit close to the steering wheel because I am short. If that car was moving, if I had my hands on the steering wheel in another position, it could have been much worse.

"I read on a government website that if you get hit from behind, airbags may not deploy. And I thought I had side airbags—that is also questionable. I would like everyone to be safer, to reach better standards. It seems that some of these manufacturers do the bare minimum testing. Real life is different."

Car Crashworthiness Legal Help

If you or a loved one has suffered from an auto accident in which the vehicle was not "crash-worthy", please contact a lawyer involved in a possible [Car Crashworthiness Lawsuit] who will review your case at no cost or obligation.
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