Airbag Injuries in Car Wrecks

Working alongside the seatbelt, the airbag is one of the most important vehicle safety features used in vehicular transportation. In the event of a crash, airbags offer added protection to the most vulnerable parts of your body: your head, neck and chest. This extra cushion protects the driver and the front seat passengers from more serious harm. Similar to other safety features, the full safety benefits of the airbag depends on the airbag’s ability to deploy functionally. While airbags mitigate physical damages in most car accidents, sometimes their sudden deployment causes more physical damage. Have you been injured by an airbag that either unexpectedly deployed or didn’t deploy correctly during an accident? If you or someone you love has suffered injuries because of a faulty airbag, contact the experienced airbag injury lawyers at Curcio Law Offices for help.

Airbag Deployment Injuries

All vehicles have airbags that deploy due to signals from sensors. These sensors are very sensitive to changes in the vehicle, such as its speed or deceleration. They are necessary to proper airbag deployment. Unfortunately, airbag injuries can occur from both the proper functioning and malfunctioning of the airbags, as well as the sensors that deploy them.

An airbag is a pillow-like safety device that inflates during an automobile accident. They’ve been a mandatory addition for vehicles in the United States since 1998. Airbags are passive safety devices. Passive safety features lay idle, until they’re called to action. Once a sensor determines a crash, passive features, such as the airbag, become active.
Airbags function to cushion the driver and passengers from injuries that occur during a car crash. All vehicles must come equipped with front airbags. However, the majority of vehicles also include side airbags.

Airbag injuries can range from mild to very severe.
Mild airbag injuries include:

  • bruising,
  • temporary hearing loss, and
  • burns.

More serious airbag injuries include:

  • head injuries,
  • bone fractures,
  • permanent hearing loss,
  • lung injuries,
  • cuts, or
  • punctures.

The most serious possibility of a major airbag injury or malfunction is death. This can occur if metal shrapnel cuts through major arteries located in the neck, or if other complications occur resulting from the airbag injury.

Sudden deceleration, like that experienced in a car crash, causes airbags to deploy. Sensors responsible for detecting this deceleration will trigger a chemical explosion that causes the airbag to inflate. Once the explosion is triggered, the actual deployment only takes about one-tenth of a second. After the driver’s (or passenger’s) head makes contact with the airbag, the air pocket begins to deflate.

The speed at which this process occurs makes driver preparation impossible. The same speed and force that deploys to protect is also the most common source of airbag injuries.

Three types of burns can occur as a result of airbag injuries: thermal burns, chemical burns, and friction burns. Address airbag injuries quickly, as they could become more serious over time.

For chemical burns, you’ll want to remove any clothing that’s been contaminated with the airbag chemical. Wash the skin clean with water, for at least 20 minutes. If any chemical gets into the eyes, flush the eyes with water immediately.

Thermal burns, caused by the heat of airbag deployment, are the most common types of airbag burns. If possible, exit the vehicle, or move the airbag away from the body. Cool the burned area with water, not ice. Ice may make the airbag injury more severe, so cool water is best. To combat pain, swelling, and infection, take a pain reliever, and apply a burn cream to the affected area.

Friction burns occur when a deployed airbag rubs against the skin. They are usually mild, and can often be treated at home. Friction burns may cause blisters on the skin, which should not be popped or removed. Blisters protect the raw skin underneath until new skin can be formed. Airbag injuries are not always severe, but if a burn cannot be treated at home, seek medical treatment as soon as possible.

As with any type of car accident injury, seek medical attention immediately.

The length of a product liability lawsuit varies from case to case. How quickly you are able to get through it depends on a variety of factors. The first depends on the extent of your injury. More serious injuries that result in either long-term of permanent disability generally take longer to resolve. This is because it is harder to determine what amount of compensation is appropriate to cover future expenses. 

If the injured plaintiff has fully recovered before filing a claim, it will be easier to determine the amount of compensation and thus, reach a quicker settlement. However, you must keep in mind that there is a statute of limitations for how long you have to file a claim. In Illinois, the statute of limitations for personal injury claims is two years. This means, from the date of the injury, you have two years to press for civil action before your time limit is up.

Another factor that determines the length of a product liability lawsuit is how quickly your lawyer can prove that the product was defective. This can take a lot of investigating on your lawyer’s part. Your lawyer must gather enough evidence to prove that the average consumer would not have noticed the defectiveness of the product. 

With all of this in mind, it may take months, potentially years, to reach a settlement. However, choosing a law firm like Curcio can make sure your case is moving forward at the quickest possible rate. 

Sometimes, the lack of a deploying airbag causes airbag injuries. Several reasons for this exist--some are intentional, while others are malfunctions.

Rapid deceleration triggers airbag deployment. So, unless the vehicle previously reached a specific speed, before rapidly decelerating, the airbag will not deploy. For most vehicles, these triggers begin anywhere from 8-14 miles per hour.

Common malfunctions occur in the sensors, the wiring, and the electrical parts of the airbag system.

The nature of the collision, itself will determine whether or not your airbags will deploy, for the most part. If the impact occurs at an angle, not on a specific side of the vehicle, the airbag deployment may not trigger.

Malfunctioning airbag systems can also cause airbag injuries. If the impact occurred head-on, your airbag may fail to deploy if the sensors did not activate as designed. The majority of airbag deployment claims fall into this category. Most manufacturers fail to properly test, calibrate, or include enough sensors.

In other cases, your airbag’s sensors may work and would have fired as designed, but the signal failed to reach the air bag module. We see this in cases where one airbag deploys, but the other doesn’t.

Another scenario includes a malfunctioning airbag module. This occurs when the manufacturer creates a faulty airbag design. This is most recently seen with the Takata airbag recall.

Contact The Chicago Airbag Injury Lawyers at Curcio Law Offices

At Curcio Law Offices, safety is our top priority. If you or a loved one have been affected by an airbag injury, you can trust us to represent your case with dedication. Since 1957, Curcio Law Offices has made protecting and representing the people of Chicago our ultimate goal. We pride ourselves on having recovered millions for those who have experienced airbag injuries.

If you’d like to learn more about our firm, feel free to give us a call at 312-321-1111 or fill out our free consultation form below.