There’s no doubt that airbags save lives. In fact, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that airbags have saved 44,869 lives from 1987 to 2015. That’s enough to fill Nashville’s Bridgestone arena — TWICE!
However, the airbags themselves can cause less severe injuries like burns and irritation from chemicals. Whether correctly deployed airbags or malfunctioning airbags cause the injuries, they need to be treated. Today, we’ll discuss how they work, common injuries, and how to treat them.
How Airbags are Deployed
The driver’s airbag is located in the steering wheel and is about the size of a beach ball. The passenger’s airbag is located in the dashboard in front of them and is larger because it is farther away from the passenger. Airbags are deployed by crash sensors in your car. Frontal airbags are designed to deploy during a “moderate to severe” head-on crash. This concept relates to accidents that are equivalent to hitting a solid, fixed barrier at 8 to 14 mph or higher or striking a parked car of similar size at about 16 to 28 mph or higher.
Get the Compensation You Deserve from a Defective Airbag
Common Airbag Injuries
Airbags are designed to work in conjunction with proper seat belt use, and drivers are encouraged to sit at least ten inches away from the steering wheel. When deployed (even routinely), the airbags are released with such force that they can cause severe injuries, even death. For example, the following injuries are common during a routine airbag deployment:
Abrasions or Burns
Abrasions can be caused by the speed at which the airbag is deployed which is 1/20 of a second!
Some chemicals help airbags deploy properly, but they can irritate the lungs and airways, possibly triggering an asthma attack.
Because airbags are specifically meant to protect the driver’s head, airbags can cause severe eye injuries like corneal abrasions or ocular damage. Those who wear eyeglasses are at a higher risk of injury from broken glass.
There are cases where an airbag can cause more damage than protection. Here are a few examples of how an airbag can malfunction:
The sensor could have malfunctioned and deployed the airbag at the wrong time. For example, at a time when a crash did NOT occur.
The sensor could not have deployed the airbag during a crash when it’s needed.
The sensor might not have deployed both the driver and passenger airbag.
The sensor might have deployed the airbag a second too late. In this scenario, your head might be too close to the steering wheel at the time of the release and cause injury.
Don't Lose Possession of Your Car
We encourage car crash victims to get treatment by professionals as soon as possible. The staff at a medical facility will have the proper tools and medication options for burns, irritation, or eye injuries.
However, in most instances when an airbag has gone off, the insurance company might take possession. If you think it’s an airbag defect that could have caused your injury, we encourage you to keep your car.
Bringing a case against an airbag malfunction requires proof. Having all the evidence possible including your car’s computer and airbag sensor to determine a malfunction happened is beneficial. If your insurance provider or anyone else tries to take the car, remember to ask to keep the vehicle for inspection purposes involving the case.
More questions about an airbag malfunction?