of the claimed damages to the Malibu could
be attributed to contact from the Elantra.
Case Study 2 back story and analysis:
Further research was requested, revealing
that the subject Malibu had been in a previous crash that was severe enough that it
was sold with a salvage title. No other details of that crash were found and no repair
records were able to be reviewed related to
the repairs performed. The expert report in
this case cost $900 but with the expert review and the information related to the previous history of the vehicle, the insurance
company denied all costs associated with
the underlying damages. This represented a
savings of nearly $3,000.
Case Study 3:
In this case, the insureds claimed that they
had parked their car along the side of road
and gone into their apartment for the night.
They claimed they had brought their keys
with them and had locked the vehicle. They
reported that they did not hear or know anything about the impact until seeing the damage to their car the next morning.
Sometime overnight, the insureds claimed
that their car was struck along its side. This
impact resulted in the frontal airbags deploying in addition to the body damage along the
side of the car.
The claim was for over $7,000 and in-
cluded replacing several airbags. The claims
adjuster was just not sure about the air-
bag deployment while the car was parked
and wanted it investigated because several
key facts about the situation did not seem
to agree. Most notably, the car was shown
parked in line with several other cars in
front of it and behind it, but none of these
other cars were damaged.
The accident reconstructionist expert was
also a certified airbag crash data retrieval
trained expert who explained that frontal
airbags are designed to deploy in response to
a frontal impact. In order for a frontal im-
pact to occur, the impacting car would need
to be going in the opposite direction to the
direction that our car was facing, and most
airbag systems will not deploy after the car
has been turned off for one to three minutes.
The insureds had to walk over 300 feet along
the sidewalk before entering their apart-
ment complex, putting them within the one
to three-minute window of turning the car
off. They still would have been outside and
should have heard any impact severe enough
to deploy an airbag.
Research revealed that the vehicle make
and model could be checked for what data
(if any) might be stored in its airbag ‘black
box’. Vehicle airbag black boxes do not pro-
vide GPS location or time information, but
they often provide data such as throttle posi-
tion, brake light status and/or ignition switch
position at time of deployment. A frontal
airbag may deploy even if the car is stopped
under the right circumstances, but review of
other parameters within the black box could
assist with refuting the claim that the car was
parked and the owner inside his apartment
when the airbag deployed.
Many accident reconstructionists have
the capability of obtaining and interpreting
all of the vehicle black boxes that are currently publically accessible via the Bosch
data retrieval system.
Figure 9 – Case Study 2, Trunk area of the Chevrolet Malibu Figure 10 – Case Study 2, Trunk area of the Chevrolet Malibu
Figure 11 – Case Study 2, Trunk area of the IIHS tested Chevrolet Malibu at 5 mph, show-
ing no deformations to the trunk area