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Injuries Caused by Airbag Deployment in an Auto Accident

December 26, 2016

Considering there were 177 million vehicles on the road in 2006 which were equipped with airbags, it's hardly surprising that there have also been injuries caused from the airbags themselves. There are also records of injuries or death resulting from the airbag's failure to deploy in a serious accident. While no one will dispute that airbags do save lives, injuries and deaths from this safety device happen more often than you would think. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that over 22,000 people have had their life saved by an airbag.

On the flip side, since the early 1990's, there have been 284 deaths which were directly caused by an airbag. These injuries and deaths could be a result of faulty design or manufacture, or defects which cause the airbags to deploy too early, too late, or to fail completely to deploy when they should. Many times airbags will also deploy in a simple bump-in at low speeds which would otherwise have caused no injuries, leaving the victim suffering airbag injuries.

Possible Injuries from Airbags

Aside from death, airbags have caused traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, neck and head injuries, internal trauma, hearing or sight loss and less serious injuries such as lacerations, concussions, fractures, burns and abrasions. Shorter, smaller women, the elderly, and children are all at a particular risk for airbag injury.

How an Airbag Works

Sensors in your car are meant to detect any sudden deceleration or a crash, but they are not meant to detect a simple hard braking. In some vehicles sensors are located in several positions, because studies have indicated that a single sensor may misread the need for deployment. Some manufacturers will even install back-up sensors in case of sensor failure. Once the sensors detect the need for airbag deployment, a signal is sent to an electronic command post of sorts which alerts the inflator in the airbag—in the most sophisticated, high-end vehicles, these sensors can also send information regarding the occupants weight, the seat position and whether or not the seatbelt is being properly used, which in turn affects the speed and force of airbag deployment.

The control unit then triggers a chemical reaction, which produces a gas that immediately inflates the folded airbag. The entire process occurs in less than the blink of an eye, and the gas used is generally argon or nitrogen. The airbag is meant to deflate as quickly as it inflates, so the occupant's movements will not be restricted following the crash. Because airbags deploy at an astonishing 200 mph, you can see the potential for injury; when the occupant comes into contact with an airbag, which is still in the process of inflating, that means he is being hit by an airbag moving 200 mph. Alternatively, if the occupant is thrown into an airbag which has already begun deflating, they will hit the interior hard surfaces of the vehicle rather than the airbag. Even in the best circumstances many people suffer bruises from the force of the airbag striking their chest and arm area.

Getting Help Following an Airbag Injury

If you've been injured in an accident due to an airbag malfunction, you must immediately contact a knowledgeable attorney who can examine the facts and circumstances of what happened and advise you on your rights and options. Even when a vehicle manufacturer has properly complied with regulated safety mandates, they can still be held liable for airbag injuries which result from design flaws, manufacturing mistakes, installation issues or even inadequate safety warnings. Although airbags save lives they also cause injuries, and if you are a victim of such injuries, you deserve compensation for your medical bills, lost wages and pain and suffering.

Put Our Law Firm's Over 38 Years of Legal Experience to Work For Your Accident Claim!

Montlick and Associates, Attorneys at Law, assists victims of Georgia car wrecks and other traffic collisions in the Southeast recover compensation for their injuries and losses. This may include monetary compensation for medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, punitive damages if the at-fault driver's conduct rose to the level of gross negligence and more. We strive to achieve the most favorable outcome possible for our clients under the law. 

Our law firm has over 38 years of experience in representing car accident victims across Georgia and in the Southeast. Contact us to schedule your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.


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Category: Auto Accidents

Please Note:
Many of our blog articles discuss the law. All information provided about the law is very general in nature and should not be relied upon as legal advice. Every situation is different, and should be analyzed by a lawyer who can provide individualized advice based on the facts involved in your unique situation, and a consideration of all of the nuances of the statutes and case law that apply at the time.