Airbags are essential safety devices in our vehicles. Most modern vehicles have multiple airbags, including ones that come out of the steering wheel or dash, as well as side skirt airbags that deploy alongside drivers’ and passengers’ bodies. However, when an airbag deploys, it does so with incredible speed and force, and the deployment itself can lead to injuries.
Anyone who believes they have been harmed due to a defective airbag needs to speak to a skilled personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. Individuals may be able to recover compensation for their losses, including coverage of medical bills, lost income, and pain and suffering damages.
Common Airbag Deployment Injuries
The Emergency Medicine Journal states that in the US, the number of individuals killed or seriously injured in vehicle accidents has fallen over the past 30 years, despite significant increases in traffic volume. While much of the safety improvements have been attributed to correctly fitting three-point seat belts, the study says that there is no doubt that airbags themselves reduce deaths.
Unfortunately, the study does go on to say that airbags can cause major injuries. The initially deflated airbags rapidly inflate under high pressure in order to pop out and protect the occupant. However, this seemingly many explosion itself can create trauma.
Some of the most common injuries associated with airbag deployments include:
- Facial injuries, including fractures to the small bones in the face as well as significant bleeding
- Facial scrapes or lacerations
- Chest injuries, including injuries to internal organs in the chest area, such as the heart and lungs
- Burn injuries on the face, arms, hands, or chest caused by the fabric of the airbag moving along the skin
- Fractures to the wrist, ribs, and skull
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Ear injuries, including tinnitus and hearing loss
- Eye injuries caused by pressure from the airbag or the chemicals involved in the airbag release
- Internal bleeding if any organs sustain damage due to the airbag deployment
- Problems with existing respiratory issues caused by the chemicals of the airbag deployment
- Injuries to a fetus for a pregnant woman open
These types of injuries are much more likely to occur or be more severe in the event a vehicle occupant was not wearing a seat belt or was wearing a seat belt improperly at the time the incident occurred. However, even if drivers and passengers do everything right, including wearing a seat belt, there is still a risk of airbag injuries happening after a crash.
Injuries Caused by Defective Airbags
Airbags can become defective in a number of ways. Sometimes, the sensors involved with airbag deployment are faulty, or the materials used in airbag construction degrade or become defective due to some other type of design flaw. Some of the problems that can affect airbags and lead to severe injuries include problems with an airbag deceleration sensor that does not trigger an airbag deployment in time or that triggers an airbag deployment when it should otherwise not happen.
Over the last few years, 10s of millions of vehicles have been under recall as a result of defective Takata airbags. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), long-term exposure to humidity and high heat can lead to these defective Takata airbags exploding when they are deployed, and these explosions have caused injuries and death.