I Was Injured by an Airbag in a Car Accident. What Do I Do Next?
The past thirty-five years have seen massive improvements for driver safety, from camera systems that aid in backing up to reinforced frames. This began in 1986 with universal seatbelt laws and car seat requirements for toddlers. The next big step was airbags, which were required for every vehicle by federal law starting in 1998.
And while all these changes have made driving safer, a whole new set of dangers have popped up for drivers. Airbags especially can be dangerous when they deploy. When some flaw causes improper deployment, it can cause serious injuries — and could even potentially be deadly.
If you’re in the Tampa area and have been a victim of an injury due to an airbag, whether because of a flaw or just an accident, give us a call before you talk to insurers or anyone else. The law offices of Darrigo & Diaz have over 20 years of success, in court and out, helping clients get the compensation they need to get on with life. Give us a call at (813) 774-3341 to set up a no-risk, free consultation with a Tampa airbag injury lawyer today.
How Do Airbags Work?
Airbags are usually made of a lightweight fabric, often nylon. Most automobiles have airbags in several places. Steering wheels have been the prime location from the beginning, but there are usually airbags installed in the passenger-side dashboard. Some cars have airbags in the doors for side-impact accidents, and many have airbags behind the front seats to protect passengers in the back.
When an automobile is in an accident, a sensor in the vehicle is tripped, deploying the airbag. The sensors are designed in such a way they only deploy if the collision impact is significant, such as during a head-on accident or a collision when the car is going more than 10 miles per hour. The sensor is triggered, and a gas — usually argon or nitrogen — is released to rapidly expand and deploy the airbag.
Airbag expansion happens very, very quickly. It takes something like 1/20th of a second for an airbag to fully deploy. They can move as fast as 200 miles per hour to full deployment. Afterward, the bag will deflate to allow the driver or passenger to get away from the accident. The rapid deployment can cause injury, and various chemicals left behind after deflation can cause irritation on the skin or in the eyes.
What to Do After Your Airbag Deploys
If you’ve been in an accident where an airbag deploys, first check yourself for injuries. Then turn off the vehicle’s engine if it’s still running.
Once you’ve determined the severity of the injuries you or the passengers might have suffered, call 911 and request an emergency medical response for any serious injuries. Request a police respondent to come document the accident at the scene. Examine your vehicle, and document any damage. Most of us carry smartphones with very nice cameras and recording equipment, so make ample use of them.
Report the accident to the police, as is required by law, and keep your answers to any questions short and to the point. Then, seek prompt medical care. Even if you don’t feel hurt, go to receive a full medical evaluation and diagnosis any time your airbag has deployed. Before you call anyone else, though, call your Tampa car accident attorney.
How Airbags Can Cause Injury
Airbags were first introduced into cars way back in 1974 but didn’t become standard until the ’90s. Between 1987 and 2017 they have saved the lives of over 50,000 people. They can be considered an unquestionable success, but like everything else, problems can arise and injuries can occur.
For example, while airbags are designed to give occupants plenty of room, the high speed of an airbag’s inflation can often result in facial or neck injuries caused by rapid inflation.
Other causes of injury can include:
- Airbags with too much propellant, causing them to inflate too quickly.
- Oversized airbags that shoot out farther than necessary.
- Improperly tethered airbags where the cloth strips are sewn inside of the bag to limit movement fail to operate properly.
- Some airbags that inflate at low speeds rather than high speeds could cause unnecessary injuries.
- Defective sensors or electrical systems can cause airbags to inflate thanks to a pothole or bumping a curb or can prevent them from deploying during a collision.
Common injuries due to airbags can include:
- Facial abrasions and lacerations, hand and finger sprains, and contusions to other parts of the body such as the chest, arms, or legs
- Metal and other materials can be contained within the airbag receptacle, leading to dangerous flying shrapnel when the airbag deploys
- Eye injuries, brain injuries, hearing injuries, or injuries to other bodily organs, such as the liver or lungs, including internal bleeding.
- Concussions and loss of consciousness.
- Spine and neck injuries, whiplash, broken bones, and facial fractures.
- Chemical burns or breathing problems such as asthma are aggravated by the propellants used to inflate the bag.
Drivers Should Be Aware of Air Bag Dangers
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has recently begun an engineering analysis on an estimated 30 million vehicles in the United States from 2001 to 2019, exploring injuries caused by faulty airbags. Over fifteen automobile manufacturers — including Ford, Honda, Porsche, and Tesla — will have their systems examined and may require recalls.
In the past decade, over 67 million airbags have been recalled after causing 19 deaths and over 400 injuries. These are all linked to Takata, the company that manufactures airbags for most automobile companies. Of the recalled airbags, over 50 million have been repaired or replaced, and the NHTSA emphasized that cars with air bags are much safer than without.
What To Do If You’ve Been Injured By An Airbag
If you’ve been injured by an airbag that failed to deploy properly during an accident — or otherwise obtained an injury worse than would have occurred without the airbag — and feel you deserve compensation, it’s important to take the right steps. First, keep the bag and associated parts after the crash. Most deployments are from accidents that result in a totaled automobile, but try to keep all the components — the bag, crash sensor, and car computer — in your possession. Your claim will be much harder to prove without them.
The next step, even before you call your insurance company, is to get in touch with an experienced automobile accident attorney. That’s the easy part with Darrigo & Diaz on your side. Our team is available 24/7 for any questions or problems you may have, and we don’t ask for payment unless you win compensation in your case. Call us today at (813) 774-3341 or contact us online to get started on your case today.