Airbags are meant to save lives, which they routinely do well. That said, sometimes airbags can injure the very people they are meant to help.
While individuals hit by an airbag may often only suffer minor wounds, there are some who suffer serious injuries. In the worst cases, an airbag deployment injury could be fatal. For instance, if the victim suffers internal bleeding or a severe traumatic brain injury.
If you suffered airbag injuries in a Louisiana car accident, Galloway Jefcoat may be able to help you seek compensation for your treatment costs and other damages. There are no upfront fees with our services, and we have a proven record of recovering millions for vehicle crash victims.
Galloway Jefcoat helps crash victims with the legal process. Call today: (337) 984-8020.
How Airbags Work
While airbags have a variety of components, the way they work is relatively easy to explain. There is a sensor that is designed to detect a crash. When a crash is detected, an igniter quickly pumps gas (argon or nitrogen) into the airbag to fill it up. The airbag fills up and deploys in less than a second at a speed of up to 200 miles per hour.
Most vehicles now come equipped with a driver airbag in the steering wheel and an airbag in the dashboard for front seat passengers. There are also some vehicles with airbags in the doors, which are meant to protect occupants in a side-impact crash.
The purpose of the airbag is to provide a cushion to prevent vehicle occupants’ faces to be thrown forward into the steering wheel or dashboard.
Airbags typically only deploy if the crash happens when your vehicle is going more than 10 miles per hour.
How Can an Airbag Cause Injuries?
Airbags deploy with such force that when you hit them, you could suffer an injury, especially if you put your seat too close to the steering wheel or dashboard. Sometimes the airbag deploys late, and the driver’s face hits the airbag as it deploys. It is important to note that even if an airbag deploys just a fraction of a second too late, the risk of injury increases dramatically.
Vehicle occupants sometimes get injured by the gases that are released when the airbag fills up. You could breathe in these gases, and it could worsen any existing respiratory problems.
Defective airbags could also cause you harm. For instance, if the propellant canister explodes and shoots out shrapnel that hits you in the face, head or neck.
Airbag Injuries That Could Happen in a Crash
While defective or malfunctioning airbags tend to cause the most severe airbag injuries, airbags can sometimes injure people even when they work as intended.
Here are some examples of injuries that can be caused by airbags:
- Traumatic brain injuries – Hitting the airbag could cause blunt trauma to the brain. Suddenly stopping when your face hits the airbag could also cause a brain injury.
- Facial injuries – You could suffer injuries to your eyes, nose or jaw. This could include burn injuries and broken bones. Some crash victims suffer temporary or permanent blindness.
- Internal injuries – If the airbag presses against your abdomen hard enough, you could suffer internal bleeding or internal organ damage. For example, you could experience liver, spleen or heart damage from the impact.
- Respiratory issues – You could breathe in chemicals that were released when the airbag deployed. This could irritate your lungs, particularly if you already have respiratory issues.
- Injuries to the chest – You could suffer bruised or broken ribs or soft-tissue injuries to the chest.
- Burn injuries – Your face and arms could get burned by the airbag because it deploys so fast.
- Injuries to pregnant women – Airbags can be especially dangerous for pregnant women, as the fetus could suffer an injury. This is why pregnant women should not sit too close to the airbag.
- Whiplash – When your head whips forward and hits the airbag, the sudden stop could cause soft-tissue damage to your neck.
Can You Claim Airbag Injuries When You Seek Compensation for a Crash?
You can seek compensation for any injuries you suffered in a crash if they were caused by another driver’s negligence. This may include injuries caused by the airbag.
Your Lafayette auto accident lawyer will need to provide documentation of these injuries from your medical records. This includes documentation about any treatment costs you have already received, as well as any treatment you may need in the future.
Can Airbag Manufacturers Be Held Liable?
It may be possible to hold an airbag manufacturer liable for your injury if the airbag malfunctioned, and this is the reason you were injured. However, further questions may follow, such as whether you were previously notified of an issue with the airbag.
For example, if you were notified about a recall for the airbag, but you did not get it repaired, then the manufacturer may not be liable for your injuries. Their argument would be that you were notified of the danger and had sufficient time to fix the problem.
Compensation for an Airbag Injury
Airbag injury victims can seek compensation for their past and future medical care, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, pain and suffering, and other damages. It will be up to your attorney to prove negligence. For instance, if the other driver and/or the airbag manufacturer is at fault for the collision that caused your injuries.
Avoiding an Injury When the Airbag Deploys
There are many practical steps you can take to help reduce your risk of an airbag injury, such as:
- Moving your seat as far away from the steering wheel or dashboard as possible.
- Holding the steering wheel at nine and three or eight and four to prevent your arms or wrists breaking.
- Always wear your seat belt while you are in the car. You need to keep your body from moving forward too quickly. Airbags were designed with the idea that vehicle occupants would be wearing seat belts.
- Children who are 12 years old or younger should sit in the back seat in the appropriate child-restraint device. If they sit in the front seat and the airbag deploys they are at risk for severe or fatal injury.
Our Experienced Lawyers Are Ready to Help. Call Galloway Jefcoat
For more than two decades, our firm has been a tireless advocate for the injured in Lafayette and throughout Louisiana. We have established a proven track record of securing justice for our clients.
If you have any questions after an accident, we are ready to help you seek full compensation for your damages. We do not charge upfront fees for our services. This means we do not get paid unless our clients are awarded compensation through an insurance settlement or courtroom decision.
Do you need help after an accident? Call Galloway Jefcoat: (337) 984-8020.