Originally posted on February 15, 2021.

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. While that is 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.

If a car has a fair market value of $5,000, that makes the threshold $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 is still less than the vehicle’s market value. 

Can I File a Car Accident Claim Even If the Airbags Didn’t Deploy in My Crash?

This depends on the reason why the airbags didn’t go off.

If the airbags didn’t go off because of a defect in the airbag design or the crash sensors, then you may have a valid lawsuit against the manufacturer of the vehicle or airbags. For example, if the airbags had gone off like they were supposed to, you may not have been injured at all or could 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 that happens, the insurance company will take possession of the vehicle. The vehicle and its airbags 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. This is why many people look to whether the airbags deployed in determining how severe a crash was. However, drivers and passengers can still be injured in “minor” collisions where airbags aren’t set off. Common injuries in these crashes include soft-tissue injuries, especially to the neck and back. 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 cannot be reused after deploying. This is not just for safety purposes; it is simply impossible for an airbag to be used more than once. Because of how they are built, they can only be deployed once.

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 goes up by roughly 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:

After a Car Accident, Call the Law Offices of Gary Bruce

When you’ve been injured in a collision, regardless of whether the airbags went off or not, our Columbus personal injury lawyers can help. You deserve compensation for the pain you’ve experienced, and your medical expenses, lost wages, and vehicle repair expenses.

Contact our experienced Georgia car accident attorneys today for a free case review.