Airbags can prevent serious injuries in car accidents. According to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, airbags saved almost 40,000 lives in the last 25 years. Although they can be life-saving when they function properly, airbags can also cause injuries.
How Airbags Work
Airbags are made out of light fabric. They inflate and deploy during a crash. The driver’s airbag is located in the steering wheel, and the passenger’s is located behind the dashboard.
- During a serious crash, a crash sensor deploys the airbag by triggering an ignitor.
- The ignitor produces gas that fills the airbag.
- The airbag only takes 1/20th of a second to deploy, but it should only deploy during head-on or near-head-on crashes.
- Immediately after the individual makes contact with the airbag, it deflates.
How Airbags Cause Injuries
Airbags are designed to prevent injury, but when they malfunction, they can be very harmful. They sometimes injure occupants even when they function correctly, especially when the person sits very close to the airbag. Drivers and passengers should sit at least 10 inches away from the airbags to prevent injury.
- Airbags deploy so quickly that the impact can cause injuries.
- The deployment process involves hot gases, which can also cause health problems when released into the car.
- The most common malfunctions usually involve a problem with the crash sensor.
- Late deployment and failure to deploy in a severe car crash are two of the most common airbag-related causes of injury.
- Overpowering deployment, which occurs when the airbag deploys too aggressively, is a common problem with older cars.
- Inadvertent deployment occurs when the airbag deploys when there was no crash or only a minor impact. This can also result in injuries.
Malfunctioning airbags can cause a variety of injuries, including:
- Fractures in the sternum, ribs, skull, or facial bones
- Lacerations and impact burns from deploying
- Burns from hot gases involved in the deployment
- Bruising of the face or chest
- Concussion or loss of consciousness
- Traumatic brain injury
- Sprained fingers or wrist injuries
- Coughing, throat irritation, or asthma attack
- Eye and ear injuries
Although not all of these injuries are common, they can be very serious and sometimes fatal. Some of these injuries can lead to chronic health problems or permanent disability. Even the less severe injuries require medical treatment, which can be time-consuming and expensive.
When to Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer
If you were injured by an airbag, you may be able to hold the manufacturer accountable. If the airbag malfunctioned or was designed improperly, you could receive compensation for your injuries. A car accident lawyer MD relies on can represent you and help you collect damages.
If you decide to file a lawsuit, your lawyer will have to prove that the airbag had a dangerous design or didn’t function as designed. To help your case, try to preserve as much evidence as possible, including the airbag itself. Don’t let the car be transferred to your insurance company. If your car has an event data recorder, or a “black box,” it will record information about the speed of the crash, whether or not seat belts were on, and whether or not you applied the breaks. This information can prove that your injuries were from the faulty airbag and not because you were negligent while driving.
Airbag injuries can be painful and sometimes debilitating. If you were injured by an airbag, consider contacting a lawyer and filing a personal injury lawsuit to receive compensation. Most personal injury lawyers offer a free case review so you can request their guidance as to how best to proceed.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from The Law Firm of Frederick J. Brynn P.C. for their insight into auto accident cases.