Airbags, when properly deployed, are vital safety tools that cushion the blow of car crashes for drivers and passengers. They can reduce the severity of injuries and save lives. Unfortunately, air bags can also cause injuries even when deployed correctly. If you have sustained injuries in a car accident from the deployment of an airbag, an experienced Huntsville car crash attorney can help you pursue the financial reimbursement you deserve.
How can an airbag injure a vehicle occupant?
Airbags are designed to provide protection and safety to vehicle occupants. However, over the years, since the invention and installation of air bags in vehicles, many individuals have sustained severe injuries from their deployment. These include neck trauma, traumatic brain injuries, and spine injuries. When triggered by a crash impact, airbags eject from an enclosed space at approximately 100 mph. At that speed, the airbag impacts the body. If the timing of the airbag deployment is off and your body has already moved forward from the momentum of the crash, your body may be too close to the deploying airbag and sustain injuries. In some cases, the chemicals that initiate the deployment of air bags can also inflict injuries on car crash victims.
Defective airbags can also lead to serious injuries even when there has been no collision. The Takata airbag recall saga is one example in which faulty airbags have caused numerous injuries and deaths. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), this recall was “the largest and most complex safety recall in U.S. history.” It involved vehicles (mostly model years 2002 to 2015) from 19 vehicle manufacturers in which front and/or passenger side airbags were recalled, some of which could deploy in an explosive manner, releasing metal shards into the cabin, and causing injury or death to vehicle occupants. More than a dozen individuals lost their lives in the U.S. due to the faulty deployment of these airbags.
Common injuries from properly deployed airbags
- Chest injuries: Airbags eject with sudden and extraordinary speed in order to prevent the body from lunging forward into objects or being expelled completely from the vehicle. When the airbag bursts forth from its space, either from the steering wheel in the driver’s case or another compartment for passengers, the chest area is vulnerable to injury. In some cases, drivers have sustained damage to soft tissue and broken bones in the chest.
- Facial injuries: One of the first parts of the body to contact an airbag when it is deployed is the face. A frontal airbag is designed foremost to prevent your head and face from impacting the dashboard and windshield. Even if the airbag deployment successfully accomplished this, your face may still be impacted severely from the force of the expanding bag. This can result in injuries to the nose, jaw, and eyes involving broken bones, scarring, and even temporary or permanent blindness.
- Burn injuries: Sometimes chemical burns can result from the sodium hydroxide contained in the aerosol produced during airbag deployment. Friction burns from the physical deployment of the airbag are also possible. High temperature gases released can cause direct thermal burns or melt clothing which can cause other injuries.
- Back and neck injuries: Airbag impact to the body can potentially result in whiplash, leading to serious and even chronic neck and back injuries. Often these injuries require long term physical therapy and medical treatment.
Side-impact air bags can cause injuries, too
Side-impact airbags are a recently incorporated feature into many lines of vehicles. They are designed to protect passengers and drivers from injuries during side (or lateral) collisions. They generally protect the head and torso. These bags, even when deployed correctly, can inflict the same types of injuries caused by front-deploying air bags.
The face and chest are the most likely locations for injuries caused by side air bags. The injuries can include broken chest bones, broken facial bones, and eye or nose damage, resulting from either the force of the bag’s impact or the dispersion of particulate matter from the bag. If the driver or passenger happens to be too close to the side air bag at the moment of deployment, the injuries caused can include bruising, concussion, and internal bleeding.
If a defective airbag has resulted in your injury or the injury of a loved one, our experienced Huntsville auto defect attorneys are here to pursue the justice and compensation you deserve and need for your recovery. To setup a free, no-obligation consultation about your case, call us today at 256.539.1990 or leave us a message through our contact form. From our law offices in Huntsville and Decatur, we offer our services across North Alabama, including in Athens and Madison, and throughout the Tennessee Valley.