Airbags are designed to deploy when a vehicle decelerates suddenly to protect the occupants from the impact of a possible crash. They’re a safety feature that helps save many lives. However, risks of airbag deployment injuries do exist.
There have been numerous cases where vehicle occupants have sustained injuries from airbags following a crash. Car accident lawyers usually help victims in establishing liability, gathering evidence to build a strong case, and negotiating a fair settlement.
In this post, Attorney Jeff Injury Lawyers takes a closer look into the risks of airbag deployment injuries, including what happens when airbags deploy, types of injuries from airbags, and how you can avoid injuries from airbag deployment.
Contact our California car accident attorneys if airbags deployed in your crash, and you or a loved one sustained injuries.
What Happens When Airbags Deploy?
Front airbags are located within the dashboard and the steering wheel. Some vehicles also have side airbags for protection during side crashes, though they may also deploy in some frontal collisions.
Airbags are hidden but are connected to a crash sensor which triggers their deployment upon sensing a sudden deceleration. Upon sensing the crash, the igniter inflates the airbag with gas instantly, which cushions the occupants from being thrust against the vehicle’s hard surfaces. The bag also deflates immediately as soon as it absorbs the impact.
Some modern airbags have safety belt sensors that regulate the deployment force depending on whether an occupant has a safety belt on or not. If the occupant does not have a belt, the airbag deploys at a lower threshold than for occupants wearing safety belts.
Frontal airbags (mainly steering wheel and dashboard airbags) deploy in frontal collisions and protect the driver and front-seat passenger from hitting their head and chest when thrust forward. They may also deploy during side crashes if the impact jolts the occupants forward.
Side airbags may be mounted on the roof rail and seat and help protect the head and torso of the back seat passengers. Usually, these deploy during side crashes but may also offer protection during some frontal and rear-end collisions.
Types of Injuries from Airbags
Airbags help prevent serious injuries and save lives after collisions. However, sometimes they may deploy with excessive force resulting in injuries to vulnerable body parts like the face and chest. The gasses released can also cause respiratory issues.
Some common injuries from airbags include:
- Facial injuries such as bruises and damage to the eyes, nose, and jaw
- Chest injuries
- Neck and back injuries
- Abrasion from the airbag fabric
- Broken wrists and arms
- Head and brain injuries
- Rib fractures
- Ear trauma
- Internal bleeding
- Respiratory issues
- Fetus injury in pregnant women
In severe impacts, airbag deployment injuries can also result in death.
How Can You Avoid Airbag Deployment Injuries?
There are several precautions you can take to avoid airbag deployment injuries. These include:
Wearing seat belts
While airbags help prevent injuries, they’re most effective when occupants wear seat belts. Without the belt, you might collide against the wheel, dashboard, or sides before the airbag inflates and sustain injuries from the deployment force.
Sitting far away from the airbag enclosure
The driver and passenger should sit as far away from the airbag enclosure as possible to minimize the impact of deployment on the body. NHTSA recommends a minimum distance of ten inches between the chest and the enclosure.
Holding the steering wheel at safe positions
The driver should hold the steering wheel at 3 and 9 o’clock positions. Holding the wheel at other positions, such as 2 and 10 o’clock, increases the risk of your arm hitting the rear-view mirror when the airbag inflates. You should also avoid positioning your thumbs inside the steering wheel rim.
Avoiding leaning against the door
Generally, leaning against the door of a vehicle is unsafe. If the car has side airbags, you could get hurt when they deploy.
Hire a Car Accident Lawyer to Help You with Your Airbag Deployment Injuries Claim
While airbags are safety features that help save lives, sometimes they cause injuries during deployment. Failing to wear the seat belt, sitting too close to the steering wheel, dashboard, or door, and holding the wheel improperly, are common mistakes that increase the risk of airbag deployment injuries. You should avoid these mistakes for enhanced safety in the event of a crash.
However, if you’ve suffered injuries from otherwise functioning airbags, you may be eligible for compensation to cover your damages. You could pursue compensation from the at-fault driver’s insurer. At Attorney Jeff Injury Lawyers, we help auto accident victims across Southern California recover damages for injuries caused by the negligent actions of other people. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.
FAQs About Airbag Deployment Injuries
What types of crashes lead to airbag deployment?
Airbags are designed to deploy when they sense a sudden deceleration. Usually, this happens in moderate to severe crashes. An accident where the airbag doesn’t deploy doesn’t necessarily mean a malfunctioning airbag — it could be because it occurred at low speeds.
How many times can an airbag deploy?
Airbags deploy only once. Even if they inflate following an impact that does not involve a collision, you cannot reuse them again; you must replace them.