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In 2008, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released a study examining fatal accidents in which a car’s air bag should have deployed but didn’t. The most common reason wasn’t poor manufacturing by automakers; the air bag was simply missing, never replaced after a previous auto accident.

According to the National Association of Consumers Advocates, each year approximately 2.5 million vehicles are totaled by insurance companies and issued salvage titles. Nearly every 2 out of 5 are rebuilt and put back on the road for resale, possibly without air bags. Others may be replaced with a stolen or salvaged air bag from a vehicle that does not match the year/make/model of the repaired vehicle. If the vehicle is in another accident, the air bag may not function properly. The buyers may never know and unfortunately, only a few states have laws regulating airbag system replacement.

Will your vehicle protect you in an auto accident? What can consumers do before purchasing a used vehicle?

  • Turn on the ignition. The airbag indicator light should appear momentarily and then go out. If the indicator light remains on or flashes, this may indicate a problem with the airbag system.
  • If the airbag indicator light never comes on, then the airbag is probably missing and the bulb has been removed.
  • Take the vehicle to a trusted certified mechanic for inspection prior to purchasing a used vehicle to ensure the airbag system is working properly.
  • Visit the CarFax website to check for airbag deployments that have been reported. CarFax searches its nationwide database and provides a detailed vehicle history report in seconds. Just enter the Vehicle Information Number (VIN).

Mark Bello has thirty-three years experience as a trial lawyer and twelve years as an underwriter and situational analyst in the lawsuit funding industry. He is the owner and founder of Lawsuit Financial Corporation which helps provide legal finance cash flow solutions and consulting when necessities of life litigation funding is needed by plaintiffs involved in pending, personal injury litigation. Bello is a Justice Pac member of the American Association for Justice, Sustaining and Justice Pac member of the Michigan Association for Justice, Business Associate of the Florida, Tennessee, and Colorado Associations for Justice, a member of the American Bar Association as well as their ABA Advisory Committee, the State Bar of Michigan and the Injury Board.

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