The Southeast Texas Record (3/27/12) reports on the circumstances leading up to a lawsuit filed against General Motors (GM). The plaintiff, Rick Gill of Henderson, filed the action on behalf of his mother Carolyn Gill, who reportedly has become incapacitated from injuries received when she lost control of her Buick Le Sabre and crashed.
According to the lawsuit, the accident happened September 12 of last year. Gill was reported to have been driving her 2004 Le Sabre when the car left the roadway, flipped over and came to rest on its side. The driver was reported to have been seated properly in the car with utilization of the three-point safety belt.
Airbags were introduced decades ago to augment the protection derived originally from seat belts. While lap belts were brought in to keep the user in the actual seat, the advent of the shoulder harness improved safety by doing a better job of keeping the upper body restrained.
Airbags, including the addition of side airbags and curtain airbags on some models, were designed to better protect the head and soft tissue—and to provide a certain deceleration of impact.
Airbag lawsuits often occur when either an airbag deploys incorrectly and fosters injury or fails to deploy at all—which is the allegation in this case. The plaintiff in the airbag lawsuit claims the Buick Le Sabre his mother was driving was dangerous because the airbags failed to deploy.
Edmunds.com, a website that tracks used vehicles, identifies the 2004 Buick Le Sabre as carrying a four-star safety rating from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) for the driver and a five-star rating for rollover.
While the 2004 Le Sabre is identified as having available side and curtain airbags according to Edmunds.com, the aforementioned airbags are standard in the pricier Le Sabre Limited and optional on the less-expensive Le Sabre Custom.
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The lawsuit accuses GM of manufacturing a vehicle that was unreasonably dangerous due to the defective airbags, failed to provide adequate restraint and protection, and violated the principles of crashworthiness. The plaintiff is asking for an award of damages for pain and suffering, emotional distress, mental anguish, impairment and disfigurement, loss of consortium, interference with daily activities, reduced capacity to enjoy life, and interest and court costs.
The industry website dealerrator.com noted that some 2003 and older models of the Buick Le Sabre were recalled for an airbag inflator on the driver's side that could fracture at a weld during deployment. There is no mention of an airbag recall for 2004 models.