Can Airbags Cause Injuries in a Car Accident?

April 4, 2023 Defective Products

Airbags are meant to protect us in a car crash, and they often prevent serious injury, but they can also harm automobile occupants. Front airbags were required in cars beginning in 1998.

Side airbags are not required by law, but are usually included as standard equipment in new vehicles. Side-impact airbags inflate more quickly because there is less space between the side and vehicle occupants. Both front and side airbags can cause injuries.

Many serious injuries can be caused when airbags deploy. Even if deployed in a slowly moving vehicle, an airbag can cause injuries and even death. Injuries are likely to happen when airbags are defective, deploy unexpectedly, or deploy with too much force.

What Types of Injuries are caused by Airbag Deployment?

Airbags deploy at very high speeds and can cause abrasions or burns on the skin. In addition, the force of an airbag can break bones and can cause debris to be thrown into a person’s eyes.

The following are some common injuries that can be caused by airbag deployment:

  • Upper body injuries
  • Spinal fractures of the neck
  • Broken arms, wrists, hands, and fingers
  • Eye damage
  • Broken noses
  • Broken ribs and fractured sternums
  • Bruising and swelling
  • Soft tissue and organ damage
  • Burns and abrasions
  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
  • Asthma and other respiratory conditions and injuries.

Airbags are meant to protect drivers and other vehicle occupants in crashes. Since they began being installed in cars, they’ve done a good job of that. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), they have saved tens of thousands of lives. But when airbags are defective, they can be responsible for serious and even fatal injuries.

It is important to always wear a seatbelt and sit at a safe distance from the airbag to reduce the risk of injury. If you are involved in a collision and an airbag deploys, seek medical attention even if you do not think you are injured, as some injuries may not be immediately apparent.

When Can I Sue for an Airbag Injury?

Fake Airbags

Fake and counterfeit airbags have had a significant impact on consumer safety since these airbags can potentially malfunction during a car accident and fail to deploy properly. This can result in serious injury or even death for the vehicle’s occupants.

In addition, fake airbags that do not meet safety standards are sold to consumers as legitimate and pose a serious threat to consumer safety. These fake airbags may not function properly in a collision, putting the vehicle’s occupants at risk.

Takata Airbag Recall

The Takata airbag recall is one of the largest and most complex recalls in history, affecting millions of vehicles globally. The recall was initiated due to a defect in the airbag inflators, which can rupture and cause the airbag to deploy improperly in a car accident. This defect has been linked to several deaths and hundreds of injuries worldwide.

The recall affects a wide range of vehicles from various automakers, and repairing or replacing faulty airbags has been ongoing for several years. The recall has had a significant impact on the automotive industry, and consumer trust and safety. It has also led to financial difficulties for the Takata Corporation, which filed for bankruptcy in 2017.

Suing for Airbag Injuries

If you have been injured by an airbag and believe that the car manufacturer or airbag manufacturer is at fault, you may be able to file a lawsuit to seek compensation for your injuries.

The following are some circumstances under which you may be able to sue a car manufacturer or airbag manufacturer for an airbag injury:

  1. Defective design: If the design of the airbag or the car was defective, leading to your injury, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the manufacturer.
  2. Manufacturing defects: If there was a problem with the way the airbag or car was manufactured, leading to your injury, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the manufacturer.
  3. Failure to warn: If the manufacturer failed to adequately warn you about the risks associated with the airbag or the car, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the manufacturer.
  4. Breach of warranty: If the manufacturer made a warranty claim about the safety or performance of the airbag or the car and it was not upheld, you may be able to file a lawsuit against the manufacturer.

It is important to note that to win a lawsuit against a car or airbag manufacturer, you will need to provide evidence that the manufacturer was at fault for your injury. This may include expert testimony, documentation of the defect, and other evidence.

Suppose you have been injured by an airbag and believe that the manufacturer is at fault. In that case it is recommended that you speak with an experienced personal injury lawyer to assess your case.

How Do Airbag Injuries Happen?

Most serious airbag injuries are due to product defects. Defective airbags can cause injuries by:

  • Deploying with excessive force
  • Deploying unexpectedly when not in a crash
  • Deploying too late
  • Not deploying at all
  • Firing chemicals and debris at vehicle occupants
  • Exploding.

Some of these problems are because of defective sensors that don’t send proper signals to the airbag.

How Bad Do Airbags Hurt?

When an airbag hits you, it can hurt very badly. They deploy with great force—sometimes at more than 200 mph—and can be very hot. The impact and the heat can be very painful. The pain that you may feel depends on all the factors in your accident, including your particular injuries.

Has Anyone Died from an Airbag?

Hundreds of people have been killed by airbags. In the early days of their use, younger children sitting in the front passenger seats of cars suffered the most fatalities. Since then , safety precautions have reduced the number of people who have died. However, fatalities still can and do happen. There have been at least 26 deaths worldwide related to exploding Takata airbags.

What Should I Do if I am Hurt by an Airbag?

For your well-being, the very first thing you should do is get medical attention if an airbag hurts you. Doctor reports of injuries will also be evidence if you make a legal claim for compensation due to the defective airbag.

Additionally, document the accident by taking photos or video of the accident scene if you are able, including the deployed airbag. The insurer might want to total the vehicle if you were in a serious accident that badly wrecked your car. Do not let the insurance company total the vehicle – you must preserve evidence. 

Without the airbag and its parts, it will be difficult if not impossible, to prove that it caused your injuries. The airbag itself, the sensor, and even the vehicle’s computer should be kept as evidence should you decide to file an insurance claim or a lawsuit.

Liability in an Airbag Injury Case

Who can be held liable for compensation in an airbag injury case? The airbag manufacturer or car maker may be held liable. But to be successful in a defective airbag case, you’ll have to prove the defect, which can be very difficult.

Big companies that make defective products have teams of lawyers on their side who know how to quiet consumer complaints and injury claims. A product liability attorney who handles car accident attorneys can be of great help in proving liability.

If an airbag injury case is successful, compensation could include payment for:

  • Doctor bills, hospital bills, and the cost of other medical treatment for your injuries
  • Payment for lost wages while you recuperate
  • Money for future lost income if you can’t work anymore
  • Pain and suffering from physical pain and emotional trauma
  • Wrongful death benefits if a family member dies.

You could get punitive damages if it is proven that the manufacturer was grossly negligent. Punitive damages are meant to punish at-fault parties so they are less careless in the future.

Even airbags that are working properly can cause injuries. If you feel that your airbag functioned properly in a crash, but you were not informed by vehicle labels and documentation about proper seating when it comes to airbag safety, you may also have a claim against the car maker, depending on the circumstances.

Safety Tips for Avoiding Airbag Injuries

Here are some tips for increasing airbag safety and avoiding injuries. It takes less than 1/20th of a second for a frontal airbag to deploy. If you’re seated too close to it before it finishes deploying, you could be struck by that excessive force and be severely injured. This is why the NHTSA says that people should take these precautions:

  • Sit at least 10” from the steering wheel or passenger dashboard.
  • Wear a seatbelt at all times while driving.
  • Seat children 12 and under in the back seat.
  • Avoid placing rear-facing car seats in the front seat.

Always have airbags that have been deployed replaced by a qualified repair center. Airbags are not reusable.

Contact Our Experienced Car Accident Attorneys for Help

You may be feel confused when you’ve sustained an injury from a product meant to protect you. You could be wondering how such a thing could happen. As the car accident and product defect attorneys at Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law know, airbags can and do malfunction, hurting people – and innocent consumers shouldn’t pay the financial and physical costs.

If an airbag has injured you, we can explain your compensation options as we learn your case details. Contact Terry Bryant Accident & Injury Law today for a free, no-obligation consultation at (713) 973-8888 or toll-free 1 (800) 444-5000.

Attorney Terry Bryant

Attorney Terry BryantTerry Bryant is Board Certified in personal injury trial law, which means his extensive knowledge of the law has been recognized by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, setting him apart from many other injury attorneys. The 22 years he spent as a Municipal Judge, Spring Valley Village, TX also provides him keen insight into the Texas court system. That experience also helps shape his perspective on personal injury cases and how they might resolve. This unique insight benefits his clients. [ Attorney Bio ]

Table of Contents