Airbag Injuries and Your Personal Injury Claim

Without a doubt, airbags save lives. In fact, the NHTSA estimates that airbags have spared over 50,000 people between 1987-2017. However, airbags can also cause injuries. Sometimes this is due to their rapid deployment, or the chemicals involved. It’s just part of the tradeoff from protecting you. There are other times though when the injuries are due to airbag defects. When this happens, you may be able to take legal action against the airbag manufacturer as well as the at-fault driver.

In the post that follows, we’ll cover the basics of how airbags can hurt you and what the most common injuries are. Since we’re personal injury lawyers, we’re also going to share how airbags can impact your car accident claim. Finally, we’ll provide you with some steps to take if you believe your airbag was defective.

Common Airbag Injuries

When your car is in a crash, sensors in your airbag may tell it to deploy. This happens very quickly – within a fraction of a second. While those airbags will prevent your head from striking the windshield, the sudden jolt can cause other injuries, too. The chemicals used can also cause a host of irritations to your lungs and skin.

Here are some of the more common airbag injuries we’ve seen.

  • Neck and back injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries 
  • Chest injuries, including heart trauma
  • Lung/respiratory injuries
  • Skin irritation, including burns
  • Abrasions to the face

Many factors determine the types and severity of your injuries. These could include: if you were wearing a seatbelt, how your vehicle was struck (and by how fast), and your body’s position in the car.

Airbags and your Personal Injury Claim

In general, airbags are triggered to deploy in moderate to severe vehicle crashes. This can be evidence to support your claim if you were injured in a crash. Most insurance companies will be able to make a connection between your whiplash or back injury if the airbags deployed.

However, the biggest piece of evidence you have in an injury claim is your medical bills. Did you need an ambulance? Were you treated at the ER? How long did you seek treatment? Your medical bills and those doctor reports are the most powerful indicator of how severely you were injured.

Given this, please do seek treatment for all your injuries following a crash, including airbag injuries such as the ones we described above. In most cases, the at-fault driver’s insurance policy will compensate you for your damages such as medical bills, pain, and suffering.

Airbag Defects and Airbag Recalls

In 2013, several automobile manufacturers began recalling vehicles with Takata airbags installed. People were being injured and even killed when the airbags exploded, causing shrapnel to strike victims in the neck and face. Takata knew their airbags possessed a design flaw but chose to stay silent. In the end, the NHTSA ordered Takata to recall the airbags when the company refused to do it themselves.

In the wake of the Takata recall, standards have improved. Thankfully, airbags do what they’re supposed to most of the time: deploy on impact. Even so, defects can happen.

Examples of airbag defects could include:

  • Failure to deploy
  • Inflation issues
  • Failed sensors
  • Exploding airbags

Injuries caused by a manufacturer’s design or assembly flaws fall under what’s known as products liability. A products liability claim is different and more involved than most typical car crash claims. A good personal injury lawyer can handle both types of claims, investigate what happened, and identify who’s at fault. Once you understand who’s at fault and how, you can seek compensation.

When you Suspect your Injuries are Caused by an Airbag Defect

If you think your injuries were caused by a defect in your airbag, there are a few steps you can take.

  • Call a lawyer. Again, we can’t stress this enough. Products liability cases are often tricky. It’s best to seek professional, experienced advice from someone who can navigate this for you.
  • Keep evidence. As best you can, preserve evidence. While difficult, work to make sure the airbag and vehicle are not repaired or disposed of until you can talk with your lawyer. We recognize this may pose challenges. But preserving evidence is essential to proving your case.
  • Photos. If you or a witness is able, take photos at the collision scene, including a variety of angles of the airbags.
  • Doctor reports/medical reports. Make sure to keep or request copies of your doctor reports. Inform your doctor of any suspected airbag-related injuries.
  • Any reports from the police or crash investigation. A police report is a powerful piece of evidence that can corroborate your claim.

Lastly, work closely with your personal injury attorney. Every situation is unique. Your case may require additional steps or action to proceed.

Safety Tips to Reduce Airbag Injury Risk

There are a few practical steps you can take to reduce your chances of an airbag injury.

  • Check to see if there are any recalls for your vehicle. Enter your 17-digit VIN at NHTSA to see if there are any recalls on your vehicle.
  • Never ignore an airbag light. Take prompt action if your airbag light displays. It could mean there’s a malfunction that needs addressing.
  • Children under 13 should ride in the backseat. Where possible, have your child ride in the backseat. Passenger airbags have killed children.
  • Keep at least 10 inches between your chest and the steering wheel. This helps minimize your risk of injury.
  • Remember to wear a seatbelt. An airbag is far less effective if you are not wearing a seatbelt.

This could be a good nudge to pull out your car’s manual if you have any lingering questions about the airbags in your vehicle. Each car may differ with their safety features, so get familiar with yours.

Want to Talk to an Accident Lawyer at No Cost?

If you’ve been injured in a car accident (whether the airbags deployed or not), reach out to our team of lawyers for help. We do not charge a fee for an initial consultation. In fact, we only charge a fee if we’re able to win you a settlement. That means there’s nothing to pay upfront.

Reach out to us in whatever way is easiest and most comfortable to you. We’ve got a short contact form on our home page and you can call us at 253.272.5226. We’re also reachable by message on the Ladenburg Law Facebook page.

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