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Common Airbag Injuries and Steps You Can Take to Avoid Them


Posted On behalf of Pfeifer Morgan & Stesiak on Jun 06, 2017 in Car Accidents

deflated airbags in front seat of carAirbags are designed to quickly deploy in a crash to protect your head and upper body from hitting the steering wheel or dashboard.

In many cases, these devices not only prevent injury, but also save lives. From 1987 to 2012, air bags have saved 39,976 lives, according to statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Unfortunately, airbags deploy so quickly and with so much force that they sometimes cause severe injuries instead of preventing them.

If you suffered a severe injury or lost a loved due to an airbag, you may be able to file a car accident lawsuit to obtain compensation for the damages you have suffered.

The South Bend car accident attorneys at Pfeifer, Morgan & Stesiak can review your claim in a free consultation and inform you of your legal options.

Common Types of Airbag Injuries

Your head, neck, arms and torso can all come into contact with an airbag when it deploys in a crash, which means the airbag could cause a variety of injuries to different body parts.

Some of the most common injuries caused by airbags include:

  • Lacerations, abrasions and impact burns
  • Chemical burns
  • Asthma attacks
  • Pulmonary and cardiac complications
  • Ruptured right atrium
  • Rib fractures
  • Fractures to the sternum, skull, nose, eye socket, elbow, wrist or fingers
  • Eye injuries, including retinal tear or detachment
  • Organ failure
  • Internal bleeding
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Loss of hearing
  • Facial contusions
  • Strains or trauma to the neck or back
  • Damage to internal organs
  • Injuries to the fetus if the victim is a woman and is pregnant

How to Prevent Airbag Injuries

You can reduce the risk of an airbag injury in an accident by taking these precautions when you drive your car:

Always Wear Your Seat Belt

When an accident occurs, your seat belt will tighten to prevent your head and body from jerking forward and hitting the steering wheel, dashboard or other objects inside your car.

This will help keep your head and the rest of your body away from the area where the airbag will deploy. Many airbag injuries occur when the driver or passenger is too close to the deploying airbag.

You should also wear a seat belt because it is the law, according to Indiana Code (IC) 9-19-10-2. This section states that every occupant of a motor vehicle equipped with a safety belt that meets Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard Number 208 must have the belt properly fastened whenever the vehicle is in forward motion.

Sit as Far away from the Steering Wheel as is Practical

The NHTSA advises drivers and passengers to sit as far away from the steering wheel and dashboard as they can. A good rule of thumb is to position your seat at least 10 inches away from the area where the airbag will deploy.

Ensure Children are Properly Restrained

Under Indiana law, children under eight years of age must be fastened in a child restraint system according to the manufacturer's instructions. The only exceptions are for children with physical conditions that make it impractical to use a child restraint system.

These are the current recommendations from the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute (ICJJ) on car seats for children who are less than eight years old:

  • Children under one year old should always ride in a rear-facing car seat in the back seat.
  • Children between one and three years old should stay in a rear-facing car seat in the back seat until they reach the maximum height and weight limits for the seat. Once that happens, the child should be placed in a forward-facing seat.
  • Children between four and seven years old should be placed in a forward-facing seat in the back seat until they reach the top height or weight limit for the seat. If the child exceeds the height or weight limit, he or she should be placed in a booster seat.

After a child turns eight years old, Indiana law states that he or she needs to wear a safety belt or be secured in a child restraint system (IC 9-19-11-3.6).

The ICJJ advises parents to keep their children in a booster seat until they are big enough to properly use a seat belt. The belt fits properly if the lap belt is snug across the upper thighs and the shoulder belt is snug across the shoulder and chest and not across the neck or face.  

Monitor your children when they are in the car to ensure they are not wiggling out of their seat belt or sitting in odd positions that increase the risk of injury if an accident occurs. For instance, do not let kids sit on the edge of their seat.  

Consider Installing an Airbag On-Off Switch

The NHTSA will authorize you to install an on-off switch for the airbags in your vehicle in the following situations:

  • You must place a rear-facing infant restraint system in the front seat because there is no rear seat or the rear seat is too small for the child restraint system to fit
  • You have a child under 13 years old who must ride in the front seat because he or she has a medical condition that requires frequent monitoring
  • You obtain a statement from a physician that says you have a medical condition and it is safer for the airbag to be turned off
  • You are short and must sit within a few inches of the airbag

Avoid Driving if You are Pregnant

Whenever possible, pregnant women should avoid driving because there is a risk of injury to the fetus from the airbag and the steering column.

Defective Airbags

Airbag injuries sometimes occur because the airbag is defective. The Takata airbag recall shows how dangerous defective airbags can be.

Millions of these devices were recalled because they caused 16 deaths and 180 injuries worldwide. Injuries and deaths occurred when the airbags ruptured and sprayed metal shrapnel through vehicle cabins. 

In the U.S., more than 42 million vehicles equipped with these airbags have been recalled, making this the largest car safety recall in the nation's history.

If you suffer an injury from a Takata airbag or another type of defective airbag, you may be able to file a product liability claim

Contact Our Firm if You Suffer an Airbag Injury

No matter what you do to prevent an airbag injury, it could happen if you are involved in a serious accident.

If you ever suffer an airbag injury, contact the car crash injury lawyers at our firm to find out if you can file a lawsuit to obtain compensation for the damages you have suffered.

Your initial consultation with our experienced attorneys is free and you will not be charged legal fees unless you receive compensation.

Contact us today by filling out a Free Case Evaluation form.