Many people believe, and have likely been told, that if the airbags go off after a crash, the vehicle is automatically considered a total loss. This is not true.
While a crash that is severe enough to set off the airbags will usually cause enough damage to total the car, it doesn’t always.
When Is a Vehicle Considered Totaled?
You might have heard that a car is considered totaled if it will cost more to repair than the car is worth, and while that’s generally true, it’s not the exact rule, either. The general guideline for when a vehicle is considered totaled is if the cost to repair the damage is more than 70% of the vehicle’s value.
So, if a car has a fair market value of $5,000, then the threshold is $3,500. If there is $2,000 worth of damage, the vehicle will be repaired. But if there is $4,000 of damage, the vehicle will be considered totaled, even though that’s technically less than the vehicle’s value.
If the Airbags Don’t Deploy, Do I Have a Case?
This depends on why the airbags didn’t go off.
If the airbags didn’t go off because of a defect in the airbag design or crash sensors, then you can file a lawsuit against the manufacturer of the vehicle or airbags, since if the airbags had gone off like they were supposed to, you may not have been injured or would have received less severe injuries.
If you suspect that the airbags in your vehicle are defective, do not allow the insurance company to declare the vehicle totaled. When they do so, the insurance company will take possession of the vehicle, and the vehicle and airbag are going to be necessary evidence when you attempt to prove the airbag was faulty.
Airbags are also designed to only go off in moderate to severe collisions, because they may cause injuries when inflating in minor or low-speed collisions. While airbags deploying can be used as evidence in a car accident claim showing how severe the crash was, drivers and passengers can still be injured in “minor” collisions where airbags aren’t set off. Common injuries in this type of crash include soft-tissue injuries, especially in the neck and back. And if you are injured in a crash that wasn’t your fault, you can get compensation from the at-fault driver through their insurance.
Recommended reading: How Long Do You Have to Settle a Car Insurance Claim?
Do I Have to Replace My Airbags?
Airbags can’t be reused after deploying, but they can be replaced. If your airbags went off after a collision, and the vehicle was not totaled, it’s important to make sure your airbags are replaced. If you are involved in another collision in the future and do not have airbags in your car, your risk of fatal injury increases by 30%!
In addition, it is illegal in Georgia to install or re-install a fake, non-working, or non-standard airbag. It is not required to replace your airbags in Alabama, but if you decide to sell your car without replacing the airbags, you must legally inform the buyer that the vehicle doesn’t have working airbags.
When going through insurance, airbag replacement costs should be covered by your insurer or the insurer of the at-fault party.
Learn even more about dealing with insurers after crashes with these articles:
- What NOT to Say to an Insurance Adjuster After an Accident
- How Much Auto Insurance Do I Need?
- How We Handle Bad Faith Insurance Claims
After a Collision, Call the Law Offices of Gary Bruce
When you’ve been injured in a collision, whether it was a collision that was severe enough to set off the airbags, one that left you with lingering neck or back injuries, or one that was made significantly worse by airbags failing to go off, we can help.