Driver airbags and passenger airbags have undoubtedly saved thousands of lives since they became required safety equipment. And new developments in airbag technology, such as side-impact airbags, have helped to make cars even safer.
Despite all the good that’s come from airbags, they’re not 100 percent safe. Young children can sustain serious injuries from the force of an airbag deploying. Airbags can also indirectly cause injuries if they malfunction and don’t deploy in a crash situation.
Car accident airbag injuries can be quite serious. If you’ve been injured by a car airbag, our Texas car accident lawyers at Herrman & Herrman, PLLC, are ready to help. We know you are going through a difficult time. We can ease your burden by dealing with the insurers on your behalf. Our airbag injury attorneys have more than 100 years of combined experience handling personal injury cases. We’ve recovered millions of dollars for our clients.
We offer a free initial consultation to review your injury and discuss the options available to you. If you hire Herrman & Herrman, PLLC, you won’t owe us any legal fees unless we collect compensation on your behalf. To learn more about our services, call (361) 882-4357 or visit our contact page.
How Can an Airbag Be the Cause of an Injury?
There are several different ways that an airbag can cause an injury. Here are a few of the ways airbag injuries occur:
- Young children and adults with smaller frames hitting an airbag during a crash — Even when an airbag works exactly as it’s supposed to, it can cause an injury if the person who collides with the airbag can’t withstand the force of the impact. Children ages 13 and under are especially vulnerable to these kinds of injuries. Their bodies have not fully developed. That is one reason why safety advocates say younger children should ride in the back seat of a vehicle. Adults with smaller frames may also be more vulnerable to airbag deployment injuries. They often sit closer to the steering wheel. There’s less distance between them and the airbag when it deploys, so the airbag hits them with more force.
- Airbags deploying when they’re not supposed to — If an airbag’s sensor malfunctions, it can deploy even when the vehicle has not been involved in a collision. When drivers or passengers aren’t prepared for an airbag to deploy, they can’t brace themselves and are more likely to sustain an injury. An airbag that deploys correctly can still cause an injury when the driver or passenger collides with the bag, as they will hit the bag at a high speed.
- Airbags not deploying when they’re supposed to — Serious injuries also may occur if an airbag fails to deploy when it’s supposed to during a collision. This may occur if the airbag sensor has malfunctioned or the device that is supposed to ignite and inflate the bag has deteriorated in some way. When an airbag does not deploy in a serious crash, the driver and passengers may hit the steering wheel or the vehicle’s interior with full force. This can lead to significant injuries, especially to the head and chest.
- Airbags deploying too late after a crash — For an airbag to be effective, it must deploy in the split seconds between the impact from a crash and when anyone inside the vehicle is thrown forward or sideways from the impact. The difference between a proper deployment and deploying too late may come down to tenths or hundredths of a second. If the airbag deploys too late, it will deploy into the body of the driver or passengers instead of cushioning them from the initial collision.
- Airbags exploding when deployed — In cases when an airbag hasn’t been installed correctly or there’s an equipment malfunction, the force from the airbag deploying may send shrapnel flying through the vehicle’s cabin after a crash, leading to lacerations, and blunt-force trauma. In some cases, these injuries can be fatal. This was the primary concern with the airbags manufactured by the Japanese company Takata, which led to a massive recall affecting tens of millions of vehicles worldwide. The noise from an exploding airbag can also lead to hearing loss.
How Does the Airbag Deployment Process Work During a Car Accident?
Airbags need to deploy within fractions of a second to protect the occupants of a car in a crash. To achieve this, a sensor in a vehicle activates when it detects a crash under certain conditions, such as a head-on collision or any collision in which the vehicle is traveling at 10 mph or higher.
After the crash sensor activates, it triggers the release of gas into the airbag. This gas — usually argon or nitrogen — fills the bag rapidly, causing it to expand and deploy.
All of this happens in the space of around 1/20th of a second, or at roughly 200 mph. The bag has to deploy that fast because anyone inside the vehicle will be thrown forward or sideways within fractions of a second upon collision.
Once the airbag inflates after a crash, it will usually deflate within a matter of moments. The airbags deflate so that crash victims inside the vehicle do not become pinned between the seats and the airbag. When the airbag deflates, the chemicals used to inflate and deploy the bag will linger in the vehicle, which can cause irritation in the eyes and on the skin.
How Airbags Injuries Occur in Car Accidents
Injuries caused by airbags during crashes tend to involve:
- Injuries to the face — One of the primary purposes of an airbag is to cushion your face from hitting the dashboard, steering wheel, or other interior areas of a vehicle. Even when an airbag works correctly, your face will likely be one of the first parts of your body to hit the bag. In many cases, the force from the impact may be enough to cause bruises or even break bones in your face. This may lead to permanent scarring.
- Injuries to the chest — Another key purpose of airbags is to prevent drivers or passengers from being thrown against hard interior surfaces of the vehicle such as the dashboard or from being ejected. To prevent this from occurring, the airbag has to deploy quickly. A consequence of this is that the driver may effectively be thrown into an airbag that’s deploying at 200 mph. This can lead to broken bones in the chest as well as damage to internal soft tissues.
- Burns and lacerations — The chemicals used to deploy an airbag and the speed with which they deploy often means that the bag itself is hot to the touch. This can lead to friction burns and similar injuries if anyone comes into contact with the airbag. If the airbag is faulty when it deploys, it may spray metal shards throughout the passenger compartment, leading to severe lacerations.
- Neck and back injuries — The impact of a collision may cause a driver or passenger to lurch forward and then snap back into their seat. This puts intense pressure on the bones, muscles, ligaments, and tendons in the neck and upper back and may result in whiplash injuries.
- Internal injuries — The force of colliding with a deployed airbag can lead to internal injuries, especially in the chest area of the body. Pregnant women who collide with an airbag can experience a wide range of internal injuries, including the detachment of the placenta from the uterus and a rupture of the fetus’ amniotic sack.
Common Types of Airbag Injuries
Here are a few of the most common airbag injuries:
- Injuries to the hands, such as sprains or broken bones in the wrists or fingers
- Facial bruises
- Abrasions and lacerations
- Injuries to the head and face
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Damage to internal organs
- Internal bleeding
- Broken bones, especially in the arms
- Broken ribs
- Hearing loss
Compensation for Airbag Deployment Injuries
Depending on the nature of your airbag injury, you may have a personal injury claim against the driver who caused the accident, or a product liability claim against the manufacturer of the vehicle or defective airbag.
By filing a claim against the legally liable party, you could potentially recover compensation for:
- Medical bills
- Lost wages
- Reduced earning capacity
- Damaged personal property, such as replacing your damaged vehicle
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional distress related to the accident, such as post-traumatic stress disorder
Contact an Airbag Injury Attorney
If you’ve been injured by an airbag during a car accident in Corpus Christi or elsewhere in South Texas, you should speak to a knowledgeable car accident lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your rights to seek compensation for your injuries. Get a free initial consultation today with the car accident attorneys at Herrman & Herrman, PLLC. Call (361) 882-4357 or visit our contact page.
We are ready to assist you. Call now.