The National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration estimates that approximately 2,200 lives are saved each year due to frontal airbags deploying during head-on collisions. The success rate is higher if motorists are also wearing seat belts and have side airbags in their vehicles.
It's true that airbags drastically lower fatality rates during collisions. However, as a result of their design and function, airbags may also cause serious injuries upon impact.
Dangers of High-Velocity Airbag Deployment
Since 1998, airbags have been standard safety features in the majority of vehicles. By rapidly deploying at the moment of impact, the inflated bag provides a cushion between the driver and steering wheel—just enough to prevent a driver or passenger from colliding with the console or projecting through the windshield. However, in order to accomplish this task, the bag must deploy quickly and forcefully—sometimes at speeds of 100 to 200 mph.
When the airbag deploys, the following injuries can occur:
- Facial fractures and eardrum ruptures. Since frontal and side airbags are designed to protect your head, your face, eyes, and ears are susceptible to the effects of inflation force. In addition to fracture injuries suffered from the initial thrust of the bag, nitrogen gas within the bag could burn your eyes; explosion defects can cause shrapnel to scrape, cut, or stab your face; and the pressure exerted when the airbag deploys can perforate your eardrums, causing permanent hearing loss.
- Broken bones and internal injuries. Frontal airbags are positioned directly in front of your ribcage. Therefore, if the impact force of the bag punches you in the chest, chin, or abdomen, it can easily cause ribs to compress, neck vertebrae, and damage to internal organs.
- Lacerations and penetrations. Improper deployment of the airbag or defects in the inflation mechanism can cause debris and metallic pieces of shrapnel to propel toward you and your passengers. This debris might cause severe cuts and lacerations while also embedding itself into skin and, depending on the length of the projectile, even puncture organs.
- Brain and spinal injuries. Airbags are designed to prevent fatal head and neck injuries. However, if the force of the inflation is too great, instead of blocking your head from projecting forward, it could violently push your head backward. This force could potentially tear muscles in the neck, dislocate vertebrae, and lead to bruising or swelling of the brain.
Compensation Options for Airbag Injuries
If you or a loved one has suffered extreme pain or debilitating injuries from an airbag, as a result of someone else’s collision negligence, you may be eligible for a recovery settlement. In addition, if the airbag deployed improperly or has a defect, you may also have a case against the bag’s manufacturer. Contact Johnson & Gilbert, P.A. toll-free at 800-556-8890 to discuss your compensation options with an experienced and knowledgeable attorney.