Police in Laurel Maryland say they have been investigating a high-impact roadway incident involving one vehicle and a tree. Tragically, the incident that happened Dec. 26 claimed the life of the front seat passenger in the car. The driver survived, but with critical injuries.

According to a witness living in a home only feet away from the tree struck by the vehicle, her entire house shook. Another neighbor said she heard a loud bang when the crash happened, and thought residents would lose electricity.

Having arrived on scene, first responders worried that the car occupants may have been injured by gun fire. However, investigators later determined that the wounds that looked like gunshots might actually have been caused by a faulty Takata airbag. The vehicle, a Nissan Altima, may have been equipped with a bad airbag right at the factory.

At this time, investigators are not saying whether they believe that the passenger’s death was caused by the faulty airbag, or the crash itself. They also have not indicated whether the accident was the result of a medical emergency or mechanical failure.

Whenever a fatal car crash happens, family members of the victims and other injured parties will want to get to the bottom of who exactly was at fault for the incident. Once the at-fault party has been revealed, whether it was another driver, a negligent auto manufacturer or another party or entity, the victims’ survivors and those who were injured can file claims for damages.

Should those claims be denied or the restitution offered be far too low to cover the losses and damages, they may then seek financial restitution and justice through the Maryland civil court system.

Source: WJLA.com, “Fire officials: Woman dead, 1 injured after car crashes into tree in Maryland,” Tom Roussey/Richard Reeve, Dec. 26, 2016