Air bags are safety devices that were developed to provide protection from devastating injuries. While that is usually the case, air bags have also caused devastating injuries and even deaths.
Reports show that frontal air bags saved 44,869 lives from 1987 to 2015. During that same period of time, 290 deaths were blamed on the deployment or non-deployment of air bags. Among the fatalities, most were car passengers, and 90 percent were children or infants.
Technological advances and a better understanding of how air bags work have significantly decreased the number of injuries and deaths from air bags, but they can still be a cause for concern.
How can air bags injure or cause death?
Typically, the most common time an air bag causes a serious injury is when it is deployed due to a malfunction. This can happen:
- If the crash sensor malfunctions, it may not deploy at the time of a crash.
- When it deploys at the wrong time, like when going full speed down a highway.
- When it deploys during a low speed, or minor impact, crash.
- When one air bag deploys but another one in the vehicle fails.
- If the air bag slightly delays in deploying, it is not fully inflated at the time of need.
Possible air bag injuries
- Face – An air bag is used to prevent your head and face from hitting the steering wheel or windshield during an accident. Even without an air bag malfunction, eyes can be struck by the bag, causing temporary or permanent damage. You can also suffer facial fractures – especially to the nose and cheeks.
- Body/torso – An air bag keeps you inside the car during an accident. If your body is thrust into an air bag, you may suffer broken bones, internal or soft tissue damage.
- Neck and back injuries – Impact from a car accident will jolt your head, neck and body. While an airbag can save your life, it can also contort your head and neck enough to require extensive medical treatment and ongoing therapy.
- Ears – Because of the incredible amount of compressed gas being expelled to quickly inflate the bag, it can cause significant noise. Estimates have determined that some air bags reach 160 to 180 decibels which is equivalent to firing a large pistol inches from your ear. This level of sound can damage your ears and result in hearing loss.
A car accident, no matter how big or small, can cause serious injuries. If you have been in a collision, regardless if the air bag was deployed, you should speak with an attorney who can assist you through the legal process that accompanies being in a car accident.