Advances in safety technology strive to make the roads safer for all drivers and passengers, but sometimes safety devices can respond to accidents in ways that exacerbate or add to injuries, even when responding correctly.
Airbags are one example of safety technology and devices that, while preventing a great deal of harm in many accidents, can also contribute to injuries. Even when deploying properly, airbags can cause lesser injuries in the course of preventing more serious ones.
If your airbags have deployed—in the course of an accident or due to a defect—it is important to be aware of the kinds of injuries they can cause and how to move forward in claiming compensation for your medical care.
Airbags, as the name implies, are bags of gas designed to act as a buffer during a car accident, keeping your body from slamming into the steering wheel, dashboard, and sometimes the sides of the vehicle.
Airbags are designed for safety, but like all technical equipment sometimes they are discovered to be defective and need to be recalled, such as the widespread Takata Airbag recall of 2015. Airbags largely rely on sensors to all-but-instantly analyze the impact severity and determine whether an airbag is needed. A fraction of a second too slow and the airbag deployment can cause more harm than good. Though airbags prevent some kinds of blunt trauma, they can cause other kinds of injuries. When an accident isn’t severe, airbag deployment can be the primary source of injuries.
Some defects or failings can include failure to deploy, deploying when no accident occurs, or an exploding airbag that sends shrapnel-like canister pieces into the vehicle.
Due to the high speed at which airbags must deploy, an airbag can add to your injuries during a car accident. Airbags are designed to work in tandem with a car’s seat belts, so airbag deployment when seat belts are not worn properly or if you are too close to the airbag can lead to injuries even when the airbag deploys safely.
Some common airbag injuries include:
A deploying airbag is noisy and generates a hefty sound pressure of 160 decibels—higher than the minimum level that can cause permanent hearing loss. So while you are not guaranteed to experience hearing loss after your airbags deploy in a car accident, it’s not outside the realm of possibility. Acoustic trauma is common when an airbag deploys and can cause ear bones to fracture or eardrums to rupture.
Sometimes an accident may cause tinnitus, an annoying ringing in the ears accompanied by deafness in the affected ear. When caused by an accident, it’s not uncommon for tinnitus to heal itself, but sometimes it becomes a permanent part of life.
A study presented in 2008 found that 17 percent of car accident victims in America who experienced airbag deployment suffered some sort of permanent hearing loss. If you are involved in a car accident with deployed airbags, you should have your hearing checked as part of your post-accident medical care and continue to monitor any changes.
After a car accident, it can take time for the worst of your injuries to reveal themselves. Therefore, you must pay close attention to your body and know what to watch for. Internal injuries, head injuries, and spinal injuries can easily be mistaken for whiplash and minor injuries in the immediate aftermath of an accident. You should watch for:
Your body’s adrenaline high after a car accident may leave you feeling like your injuries are minimal, but in the days and weeks that follow you will likely find aches and pains cropping up. It is important to get these medically checked out so that you can claim any compensation you are entitled to, as well as prevent your injuries from getting worse or turning into long-term conditions.
In many cases, compensation for your airbag injuries will be part of your car accident claim. If you are bringing a personal injury suit against the at-fault driver, documentation of your injuries will be used to calculate the medical bills and damages you suffered.
In other situations, you may be able to bring a separate suit for a defective airbag. A product liability suit might sue the vehicle manufacturer, the airbag manufacturer, or an inspector, mechanic, or retailer who missed or ignored the faulty airbag.
Frontal airbags saved more than 50,000 people between 1987 and 2017, so even though airbags can cause some additional injuries they are still invaluable as a safety measure. Drivers and passengers can take additional precautions to minimize the potential for airbag injuries in the event of a car accident.
You should sit centered in the seat and keep at least 10 inches between your chest and the steering wheel. Know where your airbags are located and make sure you do not rest your arms or legs against them. Children under 13 should always ride in the back seat. Know whether your vehicle has side airbags and remind all passengers not to lead or rest against the side of the vehicle where an airbag will deploy from.
Most of the time, you can’t control whether an accident happens to you. But by adopting safe vehicle habits and routines, you can take practical steps to reduce the severity of your injuries if an accident does occur. Your next practical step is making sure you know an experienced car accident lawyer who will help you pursue the compensation you are entitled to.
The attorneys at Regan Zambri Long PLLC are experienced with all kinds of car accident claims and are ready to represent your case and recover the compensation you deserve. Even when an airbag saves a life, it can still leave the accident victim with injuries. We believe that you should be compensated for the damages you sustained. Our legal team has recovered millions of dollars for car accident victims and they are ready to do the same for you.
Schedule a free consultation with an experienced car accident attorney today by calling 202-960-4596. Our attorneys are recognized as the best of the best in Washington, DC, Virginia, and Maryland. With Regan Zambri Long, your claim is in capable hands.