Reducing the number of injuries and death in vehicle accidents makes sense for many parties in many countries. Automakers want to make their vehicles safer so that people will buy them, and also to stay out of the courts, where expensive lawsuits and horrible publicity await.
Drivers want safer vehicles because they know that not everyone on the road is as careful as they, and they don’t want to end up in an ICU simply because someone was texting, ran a red light and barreled into them.
Governments want safer vehicles because their health care systems are already overtaxed, and if fewer people could vie for health care services, the city and state budgets could be helped in this era of sluggish global economy.
With these ideas in mind, the invention of the airbag in vehicles in the 1970s was greeted by enthusiastic applause in many quarters. As the airbag has been refined and tweaked, it has become obvious that it has proven to be a true lifesaver in hundreds of thousands of cases in the U.S.
At the same time, however, it has introduced a new array of injuries to the accident scene (and sometimes even when there is no accident). This has led to a new wave of legal practice as airbag accident lawyers have rushed to defend motorists and passengers that have been injured by airbags that inflate unexpectedly and/or too quickly, hit too hard, release dangerous chemicals and deflate too readily.
If you have been injured by an airbag’s deployment, consider pressing charges against the vehicle manufacturer, especially if you are experiencing lingering symptoms from a bag’s blow to a given part of your body.
Here is a brief rundown of the most common types of injuries caused by airbags:
- In studies done on injuries caused by airbags, the numbers usually fall this way: about 40% to the face, 30% to an upper limb area and 10% to the chest, with other areas comprising the remaining 20%. The other number that is interesting when examining airbag injuries is that 95% are said to be “minor.” That is often in comparison to injuries suffered in cars that do not have airbags. Overall, three-point seatbelts are safer than airbags, but seatbelts plus airbags greatly reduce your chance of sustaining a serious injury.
- Head and neck injuries are the most common area of injury from airbags, but it should be noted that this is true in all vehicular accidents. Some of these injuries can be as serious as decapitation, but most involve injuries to the eye such as orbital fractures, lens rupture and retinal detachment. Chemicals in airbags also have caused injury to the eyes. Other types of head and neck injury involve cervical spine and jaw fractures. Some studies show that airbags cause fewer skull fractures than seatbelt-only restraints but more brain injuries.
- The torso is another common area of injury, with injuries to the chest and abdomen more frequent when larger U.S. airbags are deployed, rather than the smaller airbags used in European and Asian models. In fact, smaller airbags result in no increase in injuries to the torso, as compared to vehicles without bags. For those who have been impacted by U.S. airbags, the list of these injuries includes rib fractures, cardiac rupture and thoraco-lumbar spine injuries.
- The upper limb area has been the most frequent recipient of airbag impact that results in injury. The shoulder and forearm are oft-injured in both airbag-equipped vehicles and those that lack the devices. Airbags do, however, result in greater incidence of injury to the clavicle, sometimes fracturing or dislocating them upon impact if an injury occurs.
- In other miscellaneous injuries caused by airbags, damage to hearing, burns and rupture of the membranes in a pregnant woman are those that pop up from time to time. It has been clearly demonstrated that the sound emitted when an airbag deploys is far above normal levels and can damage one’s hearing. Likewise, the chemicals emitted during an airbag deployment can be easily ignited and cause one’s clothes or interior to burst into flame.
The Fight against Injuries Caused by Airbags
In response to the number of injuries caused by airbags, vehicle manufacturers continue to refine these safety devices. Here are several steps that engineers are taking to make airbags safer:
- The chemical mix used to ignite airbag deployment has been tinkered with for years, with an aim to get sodium azide out of the equation. This chemical has been the primary culprit for injury caused by an airbag’s ingredients.
- “Smart” airbags continue to be developed that would adjust how fully and quickly the airbag will inflate, among other new sensitivities. The hope for these advances would be that airbags would realize when a child is in the front seat, for instance, drastically reducing the likelihood of injury as the airbag fills up less fully and less quickly, ensuring greater safety for a child or unusually short adult on the front seat.
- Other forms of restraint are being tested to work in better concert with airbags. Head restraints in particular are a subject of inquiry because they are proven to lower the incidence of injury in an accident, but few people adjust them for maximum benefit. If these restraints can be better utilized, even fewer injuries from airbags would result.
Even with its imperfections, the airbag is seen as an advance in driver and passenger protection. Although stories involving injury seem to be widespread, more than 95% of these injuries are deemed “minor.”
That does not mean, however, that people who have been struck by airbags should shrug off their injuries. Let a physician and lawyer decide if your injury is minor, then you can make a more fully informed decision about taking your case to the courts. Each successful lawsuit prompts auto manufacturers to improve this praiseworthy safety restraint until the injury rate is near zero.
Car Accident victims may be entitled to financial compensation for pain and suffering in addition to economic damages.
Please consult with an experienced Car wreck attorney now for free consultation.