Airbags save lives and reduce injuries, but sometimes they cause them. A combination of materials, speed and chemicals makes airbags hazardous under some circumstances. Most of the time, they work to prevent harm. However, there are circumstances when airbag deployment goes wrong.
How airbags work
Manufacturers install airbags in the steering wheel, dashboard, side panels and in some models, ceiling. They vary in size depending on their location. They're about beachball size on the driver’s side, while side panel curtain airbags are much larger.
Airbags deploy when a collision activates the crash sensor. Crashes usually must be severe, head-on or near-head-on, at approximately eight to 10 miles per hour. The sensor activates gas that fills the airbags and inflates them in about 1/20 of a second.
Injuries–and how they happen
The primary cause of airbag injuries is malfunctioning crash sensors. Malfunctions can include:
- Deploying airbags too early or late
- Failing to deploy airbags
- Deploying one airbag and not the others
These errors are dangerous because airbag effectiveness depends entirely on timing. When that timing is off, people get hurt.
Airbag speed can cause abrasions and burns on hands and faces. Chemicals within airbags irritate the lungs and can cause asthma attacks in vulnerable people. Severe eye injuries also occur if the airbag only partially inflates and comes at a driver or passenger like a missile–instead of forming a pillow meant to catch them.
If you’re injured from an airbag malfunction, you likely have a personal injury claim against the other driver. But you could also have a product liability claim against the car manufacturers and the airbag manufacturers.
It can be unsettling when the device meant to save your life instead leaves you with serious injuries. Our attorneys can handle accident and product liability claims when airbags malfunction. Call the experienced accident lawyers at Goldman, Babboni, Fernandez, Murphy & Walsh in Bradenton, FL, today.