A car accident can be a harrowing and scary experience, especially when serious vehicle damage or severe injuries are involved. It’s good to drive as carefully as possible and be prepared for anything because it’s important to get medical care quickly if an urgent injury occurs.
Thankfully, airbags have been designed and built into cars to help absorb some of the impacts of collisions and protect individuals. In fact, airbags reduce driver fatalities a great deal, and they’ve been required in passenger vehicles for decades as a result. However, there are also potential complications that may occur as a result of an airbag deployment, including injuries of various kinds.
Are All Airbags the Same?
Not all airbags are the same, and different manufacturers and models are incorporated into different types and areas of vehicles. The most basic and common types of airbags are frontal airbags, side airbags, knee airbags, and inflatable seat belts. Having multiple types of these in a vehicle helps protect all vehicle occupants (not just front-seat passengers).
The driver and passenger airbags in the front of the vehicle are frontal airbags, which are the type that most people think about when they think of airbag deployment. Frontal crashes make these especially necessary, but they can also cause significant damage to younger children. Children 12 years old and under should sit in a rear seat with the appropriate booster or car seat setup. Other types of airbags can be positioned in multiple places in the vehicle and can provide further protection for both front-seat passengers and rear-seat passengers alike.
What Causes Airbags to Deploy?
Airbags are designed to deploy in the event of moderate to severe collisions. Usually, collisions that occur between 8 and 14 miles per hour toward the front of a vehicle are enough to cause the airbags to activate.
Because it doesn’t always take a significant collision to cause airbags to activate, it’s important to know where they are in your vehicle and understand how to respond when they deploy, whether the collision was high-impact or not.
In the event that an airbag does not deploy as it should, it’s essential to report it and keep a good record of the event should it become relevant later on. It’s also important to have the airbag checked out and fixed or replaced to prevent injury in the future.
How Fast Do Airbags Deploy?
Airbags typically deploy in one-tenth of a second or even less, which is extremely fast and makes a high impact on the passenger. The speed at which airbags contact passengers is upwards of 100 miles per hour. This is why airbags need to be functional and well-designed. Contact at that speed can be very dangerous, especially if there are any issues with how the airbag deploys.
Is a Car Automatically Totaled if the Airbag Deploys?
Vehicles involved in car accidents are not automatically totaled because of deployed airbags. A vehicle is considered totaled only if the amount it would cost to fix the vehicle exceeds its value. Therefore, cars are totaled in some accidents involving airbags, while others are not.
It’s important to remember, however, that after an airbag deploys, it is used up for good. That’s why the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration strongly recommends replacing airbags after deployment. This will ensure that, in any subsequent collisions, passengers will still be protected.
Can Airbags Cause Injuries?
Airbags can sometimes cause injuries. Depending on the car accident in question, there are several different ways that the impact of an airbag can cause bodily harm to passengers and drivers alike. Here are some of the possible injuries that may occur.
Some of the most common types of injuries from airbags are facial injuries. Facial injuries can vary from minor scratches to significant burns or even temporary or permanent blindness in the eyes. It all depends upon the kind of impact that occurs.
Chest injuries can also occur from airbag deployment. There are a couple of ways airbags can cause these injuries. On the one hand, soft tissue injuries may occur, but there are also more significant cases involving broken bones.
Neck and Back Injuries
Other common airbag injuries are whiplash and neck or back pain resulting from the airbag’s impact. This injury may not kick in at its worst level until several hours after the accident. It can require a great deal of patience and physical therapy to resolve, even though it may only involve damage to soft tissue.
Burns and Other Injuries
Some of the most serious injuries that occur as a result of airbags are burns. Burns can occur anywhere on the body due to the immediate impact of the material of the airbag, but they can also occur from chemicals released during its deployment.
Furthermore, faulty airbags may have little pieces of debris that can be thrown into the car, resulting in cuts and other wounds. That’s why a vehicle’s airbag system needs to be checked to ensure that it’s put together correctly and all airbags are safe for use.
Finally, the chemicals released by the airbag system can also cause internal injuries. For example, someone with asthma may experience an asthma attack due to breathing in the chemicals. Skin irritation can also occur (referred to as airbag dermatitis).
How Common Are Airbag Injuries?
Airbag injuries are relatively common. While there are plenty of other ways a car accident can cause physical damage, airbag deployment is one of the more common ways drivers and passengers are affected by the impact.
Even in collisions at lower speeds (or otherwise “less dangerous”), an airbag injury can be just as bad because the airbags will deploy the same way they would in a higher-speed collision. Airbag injuries are one big reason why so many recalls happen on airbags found to be defective in some way.
Can You Prevent Airbag Injuries?
While you can never be sure that an airbag deployment won’t cause you injuries, you can do your best to avoid such injuries by following simple rules when driving or riding in a car.
First, always wear your seat belt. Seat belts can stop your forward momentum even before the airbag kicks in, preventing unnecessary force from the airbag. This can also be especially protective if your airbag deploys late due to a defect.
Second, if you’re driving, try to hold your arms at the 9 and 3 o’clock positions as much as possible or close to them. This helps in a couple of ways. First, it helps to protect your wrists and arms from being significantly impacted by the airbag. Second, it keeps your hands from making harmful contact with your face as a result of airbag deployment.
Finally, whether you’re driving or in the passenger seat, sit as far back from the airbag, and ensure that children 12 years old and younger are in the back seat. Also, be sure to use a child safety seat and seat belt as appropriate for each child in the vehicle. Children are especially susceptible to damage from the force of airbag deployment.
Get the Legal and Medical Help You Need
Following these rules and driving safely can help eliminate needless collisions and prevent unnecessary injury due to accidents you can’t control. However, if you are involved in an accident, it’s crucial to get the right aid as soon as possible. Contact 1800AskGary to find the professional legal and medical help you need today.