Failure of Airbag to Deploy – 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt
Jaime D. Jackson, recently settled a case against General Motors involving the failure of an airbag to deploy in a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt. The plaintiff lost control of his vehicle, exited the roadway and struck a tree. The airbags did not deploy, even though the Cobalt’s sensing diagnostic module (“SDM”) (a/k/a “black box”) recorded a maximum Delta-V change of 42.5 miles per hour. Plaintiff argued that the crash was severe enough where the airbag was needed to protect the occupant. Plaintiff alleged that the failure of the airbag to deploy was the result of an algorithm problem and the location of the sensors. The download of the Cobalt’s SDM (black box), not only provided valuable information as to why the airbag did not deploy; but also as to the events leading up to the crash (braking, RPMs, and seatbelt buckle status) and the crash itself such as changes in velocity and timing in milliseconds. Many modern vehicles’ black boxes are readily downloadable using commercially available equipment and software such as Vetronix.
The data can be invaluable in not only crashworthiness cases, but in car wreck cases as well to either establish your client did nothing wrong, or to download the data from the negligent driver’s vehicle to help prove your case.