While airbags are put in place to provide protection to you and your loved ones during the event of a car crash, they can also be the cause of mild to severe airbag injuries and even death even when they operate properly. Faulty airbags can result in significant bodily harm.
If you’ve been injured by an airbag, you may be eligible for compensation. In this article, we explore how airbags work in a motor vehicle, how they can cause injuries, the most common airbag injuries that happen, and what you should do if you’ve been harmed as a result of your airbag.
How Does The Airbag Deployment Process Work During A Car Accident?
Airbags are created from a light fabric and are inserted in various locations throughout the vehicle, including in the steering wheel and behind the dashboard panel on the front passenger’s side. Other airbags may be located in your car’s doors and will deploy in the instance of a side-impact collision.
Airbags are deployed based on signals received from a crash sensor in your vehicle. This sensor will only deploy the airbags if a significant collision is detected, such as in a head-on accident or when your vehicle is going more than 10 miles per hour.
When the sensor is triggered, it will elicit a gas—usually argon or nitrogen—which will fill up the airbag and force the inflator to expand and deploy.
The airbag deploys extremely fast, typically in as little as 1/20 of a second or up to 200 miles per hour. This speed can certainly save your life in some instances, but can also cause severe bodily harm as well. Shortly after it’s deployed, the airbag will deflate, leaving behind various chemicals that can result in an unpleasant smell and irritation in the eyes and on the skin.
Since 1998, all passenger vehicles are required to have frontal airbags in place. This means if you have a car that was made after 1998, your vehicle has airbags in the front and most likely in other places throughout your car.
How Does Deployment Cause Airbag Injuries During A Car Accident?
Between the years 1987 and 2017, airbags saved the lives of more than 50,400 people. While this is certainly a high number, airbags can also be dangerous and cause serious injuries.
After a traffic accident, the most common cause of an injury due to an airbag is when the airbag is faulty or the crash sensor has malfunctioned.
The following are ways that your vehicle’s crash sensor could malfunction:
- the sensor does not release the airbags when a collision happens
- the sensor deploys the airbags in a non-collision situation
- the sensor deploys the airbags too late during a collision
- the sensor does not deploy all airbags when a crash is detected
When the crash sensor deploys the airbags too late, it can cause serious harm due to the fact that the passengers’ heads or bodies are now too close to the airbag when it deploys. This means that someone’s body or head is impacted by a 200-mile-per-hour airbag with up to 2,000 pounds of force.
How close the passenger and car occupants are to the airbag at the time of the collision can significantly affect their susceptibility to injury as a result of airbag deployment. The closer a person is to the airbag when it deploys, the more likely they are to be hurt by the airbag.
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Common Types Of Airbag Injuries
Several types of injuries can occur as a result of an airbag deploying. These injuries can happen on various parts of the body depending on where the passenger was sitting and how close they were to the airbag when it deployed.
The most common types of injuries seen in relation to airbags include:
- sprained fingers and wrists or other injuries on the hands
- eye injuries
- abrasions and lacerations
- contusions on various areas of the body such as the chest, arms, face, and legs
- injuries to body organs, brain injury and head injury
- internal bleeding
- damage to various internal parts of the body including the liver, veins, and lungs
- brain swelling
- loss of consciousness
- bruising on the areas of the body that came into contact with the airbag
- damage to the eyes
- rib fractures
- broken arms, skull, wrists, and other body parts
- spine injuries, including strains and breaks
- neck injuries
- facial fractures
- hearing loss
- burns to the hands, face, arms, and legs
- asthma attacks or irritated lungs due to the chemicals released with the airbag
If the airbag malfunctioned, more severe injuries are possible as well as death. Fatal injuries are also possible when vehicle occupants are sitting too close to the airbag when it releases.
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How To Prevent Airbag Injuries After A Car Accident?
There are several steps you can take to help prevent or lower the risk of an airbag injury.
The following are things to keep in mind when driving:
- Always wear a seatbelt and ensure all of your passengers’ seatbelts are securely fastened before moving the car.
- Sit at least 10 inches away from any airbag deployment area.
- Consider having an on/off switch for your airbags installed if you regularly drive with elderly or shorter individuals.
- Do not drive in the car (if possible) if you are in the later stages of pregnancy, as an airbag can cause injury to the fetus.
- Do not put a rear-facing car seat in the front seat of your vehicle.
- Use proper car seats and booster seats for younger children, and ensure they are securely buckled in.
- Ensure all children ages 12 and under are in the back seat.
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What To Do If You’ve Been Injured By Your Airbag Deployment During A Car Crash
If you’ve been injured by either side airbags or front seat airbags, and you believe it was due to a faulty airbag or crash sensor, the most important step to take is to try to keep the airbag and all associated parts in your possession after the crash.
This means that you’ll need access to all of the safety devices like the crash sensor, airbag, and car computer after the crash as evidence to use if you decide to take your case to court. Without these items, you will have a difficult time making an injury claim.
You’ll also want to contact an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible after your car accident to ensure you get the help you need and deserve when seeking compensation for an airbag injury.
Florin|Roebig law firm injury lawyers can help you after an auto accident when medical bills are piling up due to accident injuries. Give our personal injury lawyers a call at (800) 226-6581 for a free case evaluation today.