Airbags are designed to inflate rapidly then quickly deflate during a collision or impact. However, this car important safety feature can inflict mild to serious injury on drivers and passengers alike. During an auto accident, there are actually four types of collisions which may occur. These range from mild to severe and are what cause bodily injury and/or death.
The first collision is between the vehicle and another object, whether it's a car, an immovable object, or something else. The second collision is between any unrestrained driver or passenger and the vehicle's interior. The third collision is between passenger internal organs and the body itself (such as the skull, chest, et cetera). And, the fourth collision is between the vehicle occupants and objects inside the vehicle, such as an airbag, which can cause injuries to the occupant(s) in the vehicle.
Vehicle Airbag Facts
Vehicle airbags were first developed and invented in 1952, designed to cushion collisions which occur between vehicle occupants and vehicle interiors. These safety features deploy very rapidly, inflating to provide a cushion and then deflating to allow occupants to exit or be taken out of vehicles. But it's this very safety feature that can actually cause injuries to vehicle occupants. Gas fills airbags in just a fraction of a second when sensors are triggered. The speed of airbag deployment can reach as fast as 200 mph, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Highway Loss Data Institute.
Air bags have received widespread support as an effective means of enhancing automotive safety. They are becoming more common as standard automobile equipment on most new cars. Although air bags have reduced the incidence of fatal and severe injuries in automobile collisions, they have been shown to carry a risk of injury themselves. Ocular injury in particular can often be a direct consequence of airbag deployment. --National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates in the period between from 1990 to 2008, more than 290 deaths were the result of frontal airbags in low-speed collisions. Of those, about 90 percent happened in vehicles manufactured before 1998. Also, 80 percent of those fatal accidents involved unbelted or improperly restrained occupants. Sadly, most of those deaths, over 90 percent, were children and infants.
Common Airbag Injuries
The most common airbag injuries are skin abrasion, head injuries, eye damage, facial lacerations, as well as hearing damage (resulting from loud deployment). Other common airbag injuries are broken nose, fingers, arms, hands, and ribs. In addition, thermal burns do occur to occupants because airbags are filled with hot gas, usually injuring the arms, face, and chest.
Airbag Injury Prevention
Even though airbags are a safety feature, it's clear these inflatables do cause injuries to vehicle occupants. Therefore, you and your passengers should be proactive when driving and/or riding in any vehicle.
- Use seat belts properly. Everyone in the vehicle should wear seat belts as they are intended. Seat belts have the potential to save occupants from airbag and other types of car crash injuries, both mild and serious.
- Restrain children correctly. Children under the age of 13 years old should not be permitted to sit in the front seat of any passenger vehicle. Children 8 years of age and under should always ride in the back seat(s) in an appropriate car seat or booster seat.
- Turn off airbags when necessary. In some instances, it is appropriate to turn off the passenger front seat airbag. For instance, when a 13 year-old child rides in the passenger front seat, the airbag switch should be set to the off position.
- Sit in at an appropriate distance. For drivers, an appropriate distance is at least 10 inches or about 1 foot from the steering wheel. Front seat passengers should sit as far back away from the dashboard as possible.
If you or a loved one have been involved in an auto crash resulting in an airbag other injuries, you need to speak with an experienced car accident attorney as soon as possible to learn about your legal rights. Contact Vititoe Law Group for a free evaluation of your case. There are time limitations to when you can file a claim so it's important to act as soon as possible.