When purchasing a vehicle, buyers typically consider the available safety features, and one of the most important features is the number of airbags. Since the late 1990s, front-seat airbags have been required in passenger vehicles. Airbags save lives and prevent some injuries, but they may also cause other injuries.

How an Airbag Works

An airbag comes out of the car with great force during a collision. A crash sensor causes an ignitor to produce a gas that causes the airbag to deploy.

There are three essential parts to an airbag that make it work:

  • The bag. The bag is simply the part that explodes out of the vehicle and comes into contact with the driver or passenger. It is made of thin nylon fabric and folded into the steering wheel, dashboard, or other vehicle parts.
  • The sensor. The sensor tells the bag when to inflate. It detects a collision force equal to running into a brick wall at 10 to 15 miles per hour.
  • The inflation system. Airbags are inflated by the equivalent of a solid rocket booster. Sodium azide and potassium nitrate react very quickly to produce a large pulse of hot nitrogen gas. This gas inflates the bag, which bursts out of the steering wheel or dashboard as it expands. About a second later, the bag is already deflating (it has holes in it) to get out of your way.

Airbag Risks Car Manufacturers Don’t Tell You About

Some of the common injuries that airbags can cause include:

  • Facial injuries. When an airbag deploys, it expands with a significant amount of force and can cause damage to the face or eyes. Some injuries that may occur include a broken nose, crushed cheekbones, and black eyes.
  • Neck injuries. During a crash, the head and neck can be forcefully whipped in one direction. When the airbag deploys, it whips the neck back in the other direction. This can cause a neck injury. Typical neck injuries caused by airbags are a sprained neck, fractured vertebrae, or a broken neck.
  • Head injuries. The action of an airbag deploying and striking the head can cause damage. It can also cause the head to strike against other objects in the vehicle, such as the window or headrest.
  • Hearing injuries. Airbag deployments may be loud and cause ear damage, hearing loss, tinnitus, and other injuries.
  • Chest injuries. An airbag deployment may result in fractured ribs and a broken sternum.
  • Burn injuries. The heat and force of the airbag may cause burns.
  • Respiratory injuries. The dust and chemicals of deployed airbags may cause lung and breathing issues.

Airbags Don’t Prevent Traffic Accidents

Airbags are designed to lower the risk of injury in some collisions, but it is impossible to reduce the risk to zero. Additionally, airbags may cause injuries during a car crash.

If you’ve been hurt, then you need to know who was liable for your injuries and who should pay for your damages. For example, a manufacturing defect may cause your airbag injuries. In that case, the car manufacturer should pay for your airbag injuries. However, if the airbag deployed properly and you were hurt because of another driver’s negligence, then that driver is responsible for all of your injuries, including any injuries that occurred because of a properly functioning airbag.

Our experienced car accident lawyers will thoroughly investigate your case to identify all potential defendants and help you get the compensation you deserve. Your recovery may include compensation for past and future medical bills, lost income, out-of-pocket expenses, physical pain, emotional suffering, and other damages in a successful car crash case.

If you have been involved in an Illinois, Iowa, or Wisconsin car accident we encourage you to contact us for a free, no-obligation consultation. We are happy to meet with you in any of our 11 Midwest offices, by videoconference, phone, or in your home or hospital room. Contact us any time by phone, live chat, or contact form to schedule your free case evaluation.