Modern vehicles are equipped with innovative safety tech to help you stay safe if you are involved in an accident. If you have a vehicle made in 1999 or later, one type of safety feature it likely includes is an airbag. The purpose of an airbag is to help protect those inside the vehicle if a collision occurs. In fact, from the invention of airbags to 2017, it is estimated that more than 50,000 lives have been saved thanks to the presence of airbags.
Unfortunately, there are instances when airbags do more harm than good. Not only can airbags cause injuries, but they have also been reported to cause fatalities.
At The Burkett Law Firm, our Corpus Christi injury lawyers understand how difficult it can be to overcome an injury caused by an airbag. We are here to help you recover the compensation you deserve in these situations. Learn more about airbags and your rights if they cause an injury here.
How Do Modern Airbags Work?
After the invention of the airbag (which was initially called an air pillow), it took three decades for it to become a safety feature on all passenger vehicles sold in the U.S. One issue that caused a delay in this was the concern that passengers and drivers would no longer use seat belts and only rely on the airbag to protect them if they were involved in a collision.
When a vehicle hits another vehicle or an object, it will come to a sudden stop. The people inside the vehicle will keep moving and may hit the windshield, steering wheel, or dashboard. When an airbag deploys, it helps slow down the passenger’s movement and reduce the impact force. Without airbags, more serious injuries would occur.
There are sensors strategically placed to detect when a vehicle hits something. When the sensors are activated, the airbag will ignite a chemical charge, producing a small explosion to fill the nylon airbag quickly. The airbag will inflate and deploy at around 200 miles per hour when the explosion occurs. The airbag deployment is extremely fast, taking just 1/25th of a second.
After deployment, the airbag will deflate just as quickly to create a soft surface to cushion the force of a passenger’s body. If the airbag remained inflated, it would cause a passenger to rebound and bounce away.
Airbags will activate in front-end crashes when traveling at moderate speeds (usually 16 mph or faster). A general rule is that airbags should not deploy if you hit something while traveling under 10 mph. Newer vehicles are now made with curtain and side-impact airbags. These were added to help increase the safety of those inside a vehicle if an accident occurs.
Are Airbag-Related Injuries Possible?
These injuries can happen, necessitating the need of an airbag injury lawyer, in certain circumstances. While the injuries vary, some of the ones that are commonly seen in these situations include:
- Burns and skin abrasions to the neck, chest, and face.
- Irritation to the lungs when the dust and chemicals from the airbags are inhaled.
- Injuries to the eyes due to the force of the airbag.
- Potential hearing loss resulting from the loud noise related to airbag deployment.
The potential of airbag-related injuries is even higher for drivers or front-seat passengers who sit too close to the dash or airbag storage compartment. Experts recommend keeping your seat a minimum of 10 inches away from the storage compartment for the airbag in front of you.
Besides sitting too close to the airbag storage compartment, the risk of a serious injury is even higher if you are not wearing your seatbelt when an accident occurs and the airbags deploy. Airbags are designed to work in tandem with tensioning seat belts.
In these situations, additional injuries may occur, such as:
The bones in your face are extremely delicate and can be broken by an airbag that bursts with too much force. The injuries that occur may be disfiguring and could require surgery. In more serious situations, you may experience vision loss if the bones around the eye socket are broken or if the eyes are injured.
Torso and Chest Injuries
When the airbags deploy, they can hit the driver or passenger in the front seat with a lot of force above their waist. This can result in fractures of the ribs or breastbone. It’s also not uncommon to experience internal injuries, such as hematoma on an organ or internal bleeding.
Severe Cases of Whiplash
If an airbag deploys at the wrong time, it may forcefully throw a person’s neck and head back against the seat. This may cause spinal cord or neck injuries. Sometimes, these are debilitating. Brain injuries aren’t uncommon. When you collide with the airbag, your brain may bounce inside your skull with enough force to cause damage.
The Potential of Airbag-Caused Head Injuries
As mentioned above, the airbag will deploy with a lot of force. In some situations, this may result in a head injury, such as a concussion or traumatic brain injury. If an airbag malfunction occurs, like the ones issued government recalls, it may also cause a TBI or other injuries.
Improperly Installed or Defective Airbags
As the technology for creating and installing airbags has improved through the years, the complexity of how they are produced, installed, and maintained has also increased. This means there are many points of failure because of mistakes made long before the airbag deploys (or fails to deploy) during an accident.
If the airbag in your vehicle malfunctions, it may be due to negligence by the dealership or manufacturer. Because of this, it’s important to have your vehicle inspected if you experience an airbag-related injury.
The Takata airbag case is the most well-known case of defective airbags, causing around 67 million vehicles to be recalled. The problem is that the airbags would explode rather than inflate on deployment. When this happened, they often sent shrapnel into the body and face of those in the front seat.
Residents of Texas were especially concerned with this recall because of how heat and humidity affected the defect. In some situations, the airbags were reported to explode with no warning, and the defect was the cause of 15 deaths and hundreds of other injuries.
Some of the other defects that may occur with airbags that can lead to injuries include:
- Not inflating properly.
- Improper or inadequate design that did not help prevent injuries in an accident based on the minimum regulatory standards or warranty.
- Failure of the airbag sensors resulted in the airbag not inflating during an accident or unexpected inflation.
- Defects that caused the airbag to inflate unevenly and cause unexpected pressure.
- Counterfeit or aftermarket installation.
- Premature inflation.
- Faulty designs.
- Defects with the electrical system.
Sometimes, injuries in accidents that were inevitable are made worse because of a defective airbag. It is important to talk to a Corpus Christi injury attorney to know what your rights are.
Can You File a Claim for Injuries and Damages
If you experience injuries due to an airbag, it may be possible to sue the responsible party and receive compensation. In this situation, the biggest challenge related to filing a lawsuit is determining the at-fault party. A Corpus Christi injury lawyer can review your case and identify the parties who are at fault. In some situations, there could be multiple parties at-fault for your injuries.
The parties that may be held liable for airbag-related injuries include:
- Vehicle manufacturer
- Airbag manufacturer
- Airbag supplier
If you took your vehicle to a mechanic or the dealer to have your airbag inspected or replaced, and then you experienced injuries when the airbag did not work properly, it might be possible to hold the person or business that worked on it responsible for your injuries.
Get In Touch With Our Corpus Christi Injury Lawyer Today
Airbags are lifesaving technology. They can help protect you in an accident. However, airbags can also lead to serious injuries because of the force and speed of deployment. It’s important to know your options if you suffer injuries in an accident because of an airbag. Get in touch with our Corpus Christy injury lawyer to discuss your situation and ensure you are on the right path to compensation.
At The Burkett Law Firm, our team will give you the attention needed to help you receive the maximum compensation possible for your claim. The first step is to contact our office to set up a free, no-obligation initial consultation. We can discuss the details of your case and injuries.