Getting Compensation For Airbag-Related Injuries

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The average automobile features a broad range of safety features that are intended to help protect you and other occupants in the event of an accident. These include airbags, which are a part of your vehicle's supplemental restraint system. Although airbags are supposed to safeguard against serious injuries, there's also a small chance that they could malfunction and cause injuries of their own. The following explains how this could happen and what your legal options are in the aftermath.

How Injuries Occur

The idea behind the airbag is relatively simple – it's designed to provide drivers and passengers with a cushion of air to help slow their momentum during a crash, thus preventing serious injuries from occurring. The entire airbag deployment process from start to finish happens in the blink of an eye – approximately 40 milliseconds, in most cases. That requires some serious firepower in the inflation department, which is why a chemical propellant is used to make the airbag literally burst onto the scene.

Most airbag injuries occur when the airbag fails to deploy as intended or deploys in such a manner that causes severe injury to occupants within the vehicle. In some cases, the airbag could deploy accidentally due to a malfunction of the sensors used to detect crash forces. The sheer force needed to successfully deploy the airbag can cause substantial injuries, especially to those who may not be properly restrained or are sitting too close to the steering wheel during deployment.

The airbag could also fail to deploy due to a malfunction, causing serious injuries to all occupants during a severe crash.

Common Types of Airbag Injuries

There's always the possibility that the following injuries could occur during an airbag deployment.

  • Burns and abrasions are the most common types of injuries seen in airbag deployments. Both driver and passengers can suffer friction burns as the fast-deploying nylon bag makes contact with bare skin. Burns can also occur if the airbag itself catches fire after overheating.
  • Sprains and fractures to wrists and arms are also common during airbag deployment, especially if the driver or passenger has his or her hands and arms in the path of the airbag.
  • Abdomen and chest injuries could also result due to the full force of the airbag being focused in these areas. These injuries are usually the result of short-statured and elderly drivers sitting too close to the steering wheel.
  • Malfunctioning airbags can also spray plastic and/or metal shrapnel into the cabin during deployment, creating a severe injury risk to all passengers.
  • Lung and skin irritation can occur if occupants are exposed to the gasses generated during the airbag deployment process.

Seeking Compensation for Injuries

If you were injured by an airbag deployment during an accident, it may be possible to seek compensation for your injuries depending on the following criteria:

  • The type of collision and the severity of your injuries
  • Whether or not you were wearing a seat belt at the time of the accident
  • Whether or not the airbag system required maintenance at the time of the accident
  • Whether or not the airbag was subject to a recall for known defects

There's also the task of determining who should be held liable for airbag injuries. For example, the automobile manufacturer could be held if the airbag was not properly installed when the vehicle was being built or if the manufacturer knew the airbag was faulty and installed it regardless. The manufacturer of the airbag itself could also be held liable if underlying defects or design flaws result in serious injury. If your airbag malfunctions and causes injury after it was recently serviced by a dealership or other service center, then the service center may be held liable for those injuries. For more information, talk to an auto accident or personal injury lawyer at a firm like Gibbs and Parnell.


22 December 2015

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