Even though the purpose of airbags is to prevent or lessen the severity of crash-related injuries, defects in these devices can have catastrophic results. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been investigating airbag-related severe and fatal injuries since 1991 to understand how these safety devices can harm people.
If you believe your airbag caused your injuries, contact Max Meyers Law today. Washington auto accident attorney Max Meyers understands how to handle cases involving airbag injuries from car accidents. Our legal team can advise you on who is liable for your airbag injuries and help you pursue compensation for your damages. Call today for a free case consultation.
What Types of Injuries Can Airbags Cause?
Airbag injuries can happen in a variety of ways. If anything causes the airbag to deploy with extra force, hit the occupant incorrectly, deploy at the wrong time, or otherwise malfunction, severe trauma can result for drivers and passengers alike.
Some of the more common injuries from the deployment of airbags include the following.
The force of the opening airbag can fracture ribs. Drivers have the highest risk of chest trauma because they sit right behind the steering wheel.
Cardiac injuries can happen, even with no visible damage or chest pain. These can include such “hidden” injuries as cardiac contusions, right atrial ruptures, aortic transections, and more.
Head, Neck, and Spinal Cord Injuries
The impact of the airbag on the head can cause skull fractures and traumatic brain injuries. The force of the airbag striking the driver or front-seat passenger can snap the head back suddenly, causing neck or spinal cord injuries.
When airbags explode due to defects, the flying metal shards can impale themselves in a driver or passenger’s head, face, throat, neck, or chest. The victims who survive these injuries sustain catastrophic injuries.
Catastrophic Injuries to Children
Infants and young children can suffer devastating injuries due to airbags. That is why the NHTSA recommends that all children under the age of 13 should ride in the back seat and always wear lap and shoulder belt restraints.
How Do Airbags Fail and Cause Injuries?
Airbags work by rapid deployment. In the event of a crash, the protective airbag deploys at speeds of 140 to 200 miles per hour, to cushion the vehicle occupant from an impact with the dashboard, steering wheel, windshield, or other objects.
Problems can occur—and injuries result—if the crash sensors do not work correctly or the airbag has a defective inflator system.
Crash Sensor Defects
Crash sensor malfunction can cause these issues:
●The airbag fails to deploy in a crash;
●One airbag deploys, but another one does not;
●The airbag deploys inadvertently, either during a low-impact crash or when there is no collision at all; or
●The airbag deploys too late to save you from harm.
Defective Airbag Inflators
Airbags with defective inflators can deploy with too much force or explode. In 2014, the NHTSA issued the Takata airbag recall because of defective airbag inflator systems.
These devices contain a chemical that is supposed to trigger the airbag deployment in the event of a significant collision. However, the chemical tends to degrade, which causes the airbags to deploy incorrectly. Sometimes, the entire airbag system explodes and sends jagged chunks of metal flying at high speed toward drivers and passengers.
If a defect caused your airbag to work improperly and you suffered injuries, contact us as soon as possible. We might be able to hold the airbag manufacturer liable for your damages.
Are Airbag Injuries Preventable?
Some airbag injuries are preventable, but others, tragically are entirely unexpected. Here are a few tips for airbag safety.
Always Wear a Lap and Shoulder Seat Belt to Hold Your Body in Place.
When you have to hit the brakes suddenly in an attempt to avoid a wreck, the bodies of the driver and passengers move forward, which puts them closer to the airbag than they should be when it deploys.
Position Yourself Far Away From the Steering Wheel.
When driving, you should position the seat so that your breastbone is always at least 10 inches from the steering wheel.
Sit Upright in the Car.
Front-seat passengers should not lean forward when riding or sleeping, as that will put them in the path of the airbag when it deploys. People who ride with their heads down are at risk of catastrophic head, neck, and spine injuries if the airbag deploys when they are too close to the device. Also, if you ride with your feet on the dashboard, you risk leg injuries from airbag deployment.
Comply With Airbag Recall Notices Immediately.
If you receive a recall notice for your vehicle’s airbags, do not delay. The repairs are free, and they could save your life. If you have questions about how to replace a recalled device, contact Max Meyers Law today.