air bag light in car

An Intro to Air Bag Injuries

By David Hammond

There has been a recent recall over potentially explosive airbag parts. Over 33 million people in the U.S. could be driving vehicles with airbag inflators that, in rare cases, explode in a collision and send dangerous shrapnel flying. As such, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has demanded that the manufacturers of these vehicles recall the approximately 67 million airbag inflators that have this explosion risk. Amidst these recall demands, a broader conversation over airbag safety has given way. It is important to know that airbags, in most cases, will save lives rather than endanger them. That being said, there is a risk of air bag injuries and that is what we will discuss today.

Understanding Air Bag Injuries

Airbags are usually located in the steering column of a vehicle. They can also be commonly found in the dashboard in front of the passenger’s seat as well as the sides of the driver and passenger seats. Made of light fabric, airbags are connected to a crash sensor that, upon detecting a collision, will trigger an igniter that fills the airbag with gas. The deployment and expansion of the airbag take only a fraction of a section and happen with a significant amount of force. The bag expanded with the gas is meant to cushion the impact of a crash if you are thrown forward or to the side of the vehicle and avoid being thrown into the hard surfaces that surround you in the vehicle.

Airbags do save lives and can prevent far more serious injuries from being incurred by a vehicle occupant, but the force and nature of an airbag deploying can cause injury in and of itself. The gas used to inflate the airbag has been known to cause or exacerbate respiratory problems. Other common airbag injuries include:

  • Facial bruising and fractures
  • Chest injuries
  • Heart injuries
  • Burns on the chest, arms, and face
  • Skull fractures
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Head injuries
  • Eye injuries from chemical irritation
  • Eye injuries from airbag impact
  • Internal organ damage

While these injuries are absolutely serious, they are often still better than what could have been without airbag deployment. There are, however, instances when airbag sensors malfunction and the airbags deploy when they shouldn’t. There are also instances when an airbag defect renders the airbag unnecessarily dangerous or ineffective. In these instances, you may be able to recover compensation for the harm you suffered from the hazardous airbag from parties such as the airbag or automobile manufacturer or anyone who was responsible for inspecting, maintaining, or replacing the airbag after you purchased the vehicle. You would be bringing a product liability claim and, in order to be successful in your claim, you would need to prove that the airbag was defective and that this defect was the direct cause of the harm you suffered.

Central New York Personal Injury Attorneys

Injured in a crash? Injured by an airbag? At CDH Law, we got you covered. We will help you pursue full and fair compensation for your injuries from the responsible parties. Contact us today.

About the Author
David is a former military prosecutor and defense lawyer with over a decade of experience fighting for service members and their families. He served nine years and two combat tours as an active duty US Army officer, then joined the Reserves and settled down in Syracuse to be near family. Now representing people across Central New York charged with serious felonies, misdemeanors, DWIs, and traffic offenses, he puts the same level of commitment into his civilian law practice. If you have any questions regarding this article, you can contact David here.