Can Airbags Be Dangerous During Accidents?
The premise of a car’s airbag sounds calming, doesn’t it?
Instead of colliding with your car’s dashboard or steering wheel — a pillow of air cushions the impact. While an airbag isn’t as cuddly-soft as you think it is — it certainly beats making contact with the steering wheel.
Since 1998, driver and front-seat passenger airbags have been mandatory in the United States of America. Between the years 1987 and 2008, frontal airbags saved more than 25,000 people in car accidents. Because of these astonishing numbers — they were deemed one of the greatest achievements in safety technology history.
Now, it’s easy to find cars that have ten airbags, and some companies have incorporated airbags into their car’s seatbelts too.
But are airbags actually killing the people they’re supposed to protect?
Believe it or not, but an accident caused by an airbag is possible. Anyone who has been in a car accident in which the airbag deployed can tell you that it is not as comfortable as you could think it is. But first, let’s try to understand how an airbag works.
Understanding How an Airbag Works
An airbag is made from soft and light fabric. The driver’s airbag is inside the steering wheel while the passenger’s airbag is inside a panel on the dashboard. The driver’s airbag is about the size of a beach ball, while the passenger’s airbag can be a lot larger.
This is mainly because the passenger’s airbag is inside the dashboard. It has to be significantly larger so it can reach the passenger. A car can also have additional bags, like the ones located in the doors of the vehicle. These are deployed when the car is impacted from the side in a car accident.
Connected to an airbag is a crash sensor that sends the signal to the airbag to deploy if there’s a severe crash. A severe crash can usually be head-on or near-head-on at any speed above 10 MPH.
When a severe crash happens, the sensor will trigger the car’s igniter to produce a gas which fills up the airbag. It only takes an airbag 1/20th of a second to deploy, and it has to be that fast to ensure the passenger’s safety. The deployment can also release some dust, which can be irritating to the skin.
But then how can airbags be dangerous?
What Makes an Airbag Dangerous?
The most common error that can occur is the malfunction of the sensor. There are a few things that can go wrong with the sensor:
- The airbag might deploy at the wrong time because of a problem in the sensor (even when there was no collision)
- There might be a situation when the airbag might not deploy at all
- Only one airbag might deploy and the other might not
- The airbag might deploy, but it might be a second too late
It’s understandable that the timing of the airbag is crucial to your safety. If the airbag deploys even a microsecond too late, it can cause a serious injury because late deployment would mean that the passenger’s head is too close to the steering wheel.
Frequent Airbag-Related Injuries
A malfunctioning sensor can lead to devastating injuries or even death. But with that being said, any time an airbag deploys, an injury can be caused. For example:
- If an airbag deploys too fast, it can cause burns or abrasions on the skin
- The chemicals that are released when an airbag is deployed can be irritating and can also cause an asthma attack.
- Airbags can also cause severe injuries to a person’s eyes.
Even if an airbag deploys correctly, it can cause serious injuries if a person is sitting too close to the steering wheel. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), a driver must sit at least 10 inches away from the dashboard and the steering wheel.
Can You Sue for the Injuries You Suffered?
A faulty airbag can give you the chance to make a claim for personal injury. For you to win this case, you and your personal injury lawyer in PA must be able to prove that the airbag was faulty when it left the manufacturer.
You can also claim that the airbag was unreasonably dangerous. This argument is known as product liability. You should also remember that just because you were injured by the airbag, doesn’t mean that someone is automatically liable for your injuries.
In this case, there can be at least 3 defendants:
- The manufacturer of the automobile
- The manufacturer of the airbag
- If the airbag was inspected by a car mechanic or replaced — both of these parties can be held responsible
What to Do If an Airbag Malfunctions
When an airbag malfunctions, the most important thing you can do is collect and save the evidence that is related to the airbag. Make sure that the airbag or the crash sensor attached to it is not thrown away as debris.
If your car has a computer attached to it, make sure that it is not wiped clean. The computer can hold important information that can help your personal injury lawyer in PA create a strong case for you. Also, make sure that the car is not transferred to your insurance company.
Usually, if your insurer deems your car to be a total loss — they’ll want to take possession of your car. If they do this, you’ll lose the evidence for your case. Try to hold on to the car if you can. This will be difficult, but remember, the defendant will try to prove that you were negligent.
Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer in PA
Since no one will expect you to be well versed with all personal injury laws — it’s best if you hire a personal injury lawyer in PA. The presence of a lawyer gives you peace of mind that a professional is looking over your case, and your chances of receiving a compensation increase tenfold.
If you were a part of an accident caused by an airbag, contact Cherry Injury Law. You can relax while we take care of your compensation claim.