Airbags are intended to protect drivers and other vehicle occupants. Most of the time, they do what they are supposed to do, but what if an airbag injures you when it deploys during a crash? Can you file a claim for compensation to cover your damages?
Anderson & Cummings explain more about airbags and how they may sometimes cause serious injuries during a crash.
Injured in a crash due to a defective airbag? Learn what legal options you may have to recover compensation for your medical costs, lost wages and other losses.
Call our law offices 24/7 to discuss your situation in a completely FREE case review. Our Fort Worth auto accident attorneys have extensive experience, and we are here to help.
What is the Purpose of an Airbag?
Airbags are safety devices that are made out of specially designed fabric bags that are designed to deploy whenever the impact sensors are activated. When airbags deploy, they form a cushion between the car and vehicle occupants. Although thousands of lives have been saved by these devices, sometimes things can go wrong.
Frontal airbags have been around so long now that they are standard equipment in nearly every passenger vehicle built from the late 1990s on.
Today, most modern vehicles have both frontal-impact airbags and side-impact airbags installed.
When Are Airbags Designed to Deploy?
Airbags should deploy during frontal or near-frontal crashes that are moderate to severe. For instance, a moderate to severe crash could mean rear-ending a car stopped at a traffic light at a speed of 16 to 28 mph or more. However, sometimes sensors may get triggered even when a crash is more minor.
There are several factors that help determine whether an airbag goes off. For instance, the speed a vehicle was traveling prior to impact, as well as where the vehicle was struck. Even the specific design of your airbags and the location of your sensors can determine whether they deploy.
What Can Go Wrong With an Airbag During a Crash?
If an airbag deploys properly, it comes between the driver and other vehicle occupants and hard objects in the vehicle, such as the steering wheel. To do this efficiently and avoid causing further injuries, the timing of when an airbag deploys is critical.
There are several things that can go wrong, however, including:
- Faulty sensors: If your airbags are triggered too late or not at all, it could cause serious injuries.
- Deteriorating airbags –Newer vehicles today claim that their airbags will last for the life of the vehicle. However, depending on the year, make or model of your vehicle, you may need to have your airbags inspected periodically.
- Where the vehicle was struck: Depending on the speed a vehicle was traveling and where it was struck, some airbags may get triggered while others may not.
- No airbags deploy: Rarely, all of a vehicle’s airbags may fail to deploy in a collision.
- Gasses or chemicals released from the airbag: Some vehicle occupants may be especially sensitive to the gasses or chemicals released by an airbag. For these individuals, a deploying airbag could either lead to or worsen respiratory issues.
- Victims could get hit by flying shrapnel: If shrapnel flies out from the airbag’s propellant canister, it could strike not only the driver, but also other occupants.
- Eye or facial injuries: If an airbag deploys at the wrong time or the driver or passenger is positioned too close to the airbag, it could cause eye or facial injuries.
How Can Airbags Cause Serious Injuries During a Crash?
Airbags are designed to reduce serious injuries to the driver and other vehicle occupants. However, if a driver or passenger is sitting too close to where the airbag is located, it can cause serious harm when it deploys. This risk is one reason why small children should never be placed in the front seat.
Additional situations, such as those described above or anytime an airbag does not work as intended, a deployment may cause severe injuries, including:
For instance, victims could sustain facial fractures, such as a broken nose, broken or dislocated jaw or orbital fractures (the bone that protects the eye). This is especially likely if the driver, for instance, is seated too close to the steering wheel.
Some eye injuries may result in temporary or permanent vision loss. Getting hit in the head by an airbag could also cause a concussion or other traumatic brain injury (TBI).
Sometimes a deploying airbag could cause serious chemical burns to a victim’s face, neck, arms or anywhere in the upper torso.
If someone is sitting too close to an airbag, the impact could be enough to cause severe bruising to the chest. It could even cause the victim to suffer heart injuries or one or more rib fractures.
Fetal Injuries or Miscarriages
If a pregnant woman is struck by a faulty airbag or even sitting too close to one when it deploys, it could harm the fetus or cause a miscarriage.
Airbag injuries can sometimes be severe enough to cause a fatal injury, especially if a younger, smaller child is seated in the front seat.
Who May Be Liable if I Suffer an Airbag Injury in a Crash?
It can be challenging to determine liability for an airbag injury. There are many factors that need to be considered, including:
- Manufacturer or distributor of the airbag: Were the vehicle’s airbag or sensors faulty? Did this defect cause the airbag to deploy improperly or not at all? Did the manufacturer or distributor know there was a defect and neglect to warn the public?
- The manufacturer of the vehicle: A vehicle manufacturer may be held liable if the airbag had a known defect yet took no steps to warn the public or issue a vehicle recall for the defect that led to your injuries.
- At-fault driver: If the airbag injury was the direct result of another driver’s negligence, and that negligence led to the accident and your injuries, then he or she may be held liable.
- Mechanic who inspected the airbag: While this may be rare if a mechanic inspected the airbag and cleared it as being fully functional, it may be possible for that party to share liability.
How Can You Avoid Suffering Airbag Injuries in a Crash?
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), you can help to prevent airbag deployment injuries by:
- Not using airbags as a replacement for wearing your seat belt – this could cause you to be ejected from the vehicle during a crash or cause the airbag to hit you the wrong way.
- Making sure you are seated properly and buckled in with both the lap belt and shoulder harness
- Placing all infants and children under the age of 13 in the back seat
- Making sure you are not leaning forward or positioned too close to the steering wheel
Call Our Law Offices to Discuss Your Legal Situation Today
At Anderson & Cummings, we are here to help you recover compensation for your damages. However, what we do is more than that. We fully investigate the cause of your crash and who was at fault. If you suffered airbag injuries, we find out why and who may be liable for those damages. We have the resources, staff and experience to help, regardless what type of vehicle crash caused your injuries. Our legal team in Texas is compassionate and fully prepared to guide you every step of the way through a process that is often complex and confusing.
Not sure if you have a case? We offer a zero-cost, risk-free case review to determine your legal options. Call today to get started. There is no obligation to file a claim, but if you choose our firm to represent you, there will be no upfront costs to pay.
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