Did a speed hump cause my airbag malfunction and accident?

My wife was driving our six-year-old Ford Mondeo Ghia X Estate along a local road when the driver’s airbag exploded without any impact. The car was travelling at approximately 25mph, well within the speed limit as there are speed bumps on the road.

Both airbags suddenly deployed, the one on the passenger side inflating as I presume it should, but the one on the driver’s side exploded in my wife’s face and the car was filled with noxious gas and fumes. In fright and with impaired vision, my wife veered to the left and mounted the pavement demolishing a telegraph pole and streetlight.

The police were excellent and my wife was not breathalysed. As there were no tyre skid marks on the road the police agreed that the incident had been caused by the air bag malfunction and was no fault of my wife. My wife has cracked ribs and extensive bruising to her chest and abdomen and is in considerable pain. Our car is a write off, and our insurance company has offered a satisfactory price for it.

I have also contacted a local solicitor who stated that they didn’t think a case could be made for compensation against Ford. Is Ford liable because of the malfunction to the airbag?

Asked on 27 October 2012 by CF, Ruislip

Answered by Honest John
No. The car is six years old and the manufacturer's responsibility in law stops entirely as soon as a product is six years old. Airbag function is not guaranteed anyway, nor can it be because it relies on triggers, explosive charges and the bags themselves remaining airtight.

What must have happened is that the bags were triggered by the car's impact with a speed hump. It's worth seeing a solicitor to seek a professional opinion on any liability by the council for placing the obstructions in the road that triggered the airbag.
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