Auto manufacturers have experimented with airbags since the 1970s. In 1999, frontal airbags became mandatory safety equipment in all new vehicles sold. According to the most recent data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), airbags helped to save more than 50,000 lives between 1987 and 2017.
But airbags sometimes save lives at the cost of causing injuries. The inflation force of an airbag can fracture bones, break cartilage, and tear ligaments. These injuries can temporarily or permanently disable you and cost thousands of dollars for treatment and therapy.
How Our St. Louis Car Accident Lawyers Can Help You Recover Compensation for Airbag Injuries
Schultz & Myers Personal Injury Lawyers has represented accident victims against insurers and at-fault parties since 2010. Our car accident attorneys in St. Louis have over 100 years of combined experience in personal injury law, and our firm has recovered over $100 million for its clients.
If you hire us for help after a car accident in St. Louis, MO, we’ll:
- Investigate how the crash happened and who is liable for your losses
- Handle your claim from start to finish and explain your options throughout the process
- Negotiate on your behalf as we work towards the best outcome for you
- Represent you in court if we fail to secure a favorable out-of-court settlement
While airbag injuries are rare, they can have serious consequences. Contact Schultz & Myers Personal Injury Lawyers to discuss your airbag injuries and the compensation you can seek for them.
How Common Are Airbag Injuries?
From 1990 to 2008, airbag regulations required greater inflation energies. The federal government also allowed manufacturers to use airbags without switches to deactivate them when the seat was occupied by a short adult, child, or car seat. During this time, the NHTSA estimates about 300 deaths and thousands of injuries happened.
In 2008, the regulations changed to allow lower inflation forces. Auto manufacturers also started installing intelligent inflation systems. These improvements allowed the car’s computer to deactivate or reduce the inflation energy for passengers of a certain size. Since 2008, airbag fatalities rarely happen in new vehicles.
But even with the improvements, airbag injuries still happen. Sometimes, these injuries occur because the vehicle was made before 2008, using older and more powerful inflators. Airbag injuries also happen in newer cars due to 67 million defective airbags installed by almost every manufacturer since 2001.
Overview of Airbag Injuries in St. Louis, MO
Airbag injuries tend to follow a pattern. They only happen in certain kinds of accidents and affect specific body parts.
How Airbags Work
Airbags have three main components: sensors, inflators, and gas. The sensor sits in the front of the car. When it detects a front-end collision, it triggers an inflator. In most cars, only a front-end collision will set off the airbag. A side-impact or rear-end crash will not trigger the frontal airbags, although they might trigger the side airbags.
The inflator contains two chemicals. When triggered, the chemicals mix and quickly produce a large volume of gas, inflating the airbag. The bag has vents, and it deflates when you strike it. As the airbag deflates, it gradually slows your body’s forward motion. In other words, the airbag catches you rather than bumping or bouncing you.
How Airbag Injuries Happen
Airbag injuries happen due to a few different mechanisms, including:
Even when everything works perfectly, the impact of an airbag can cause injuries. The speed of the vehicle before the collision can transfer a large amount of energy to the occupant. This energy must go somewhere, even when the airbag functions correctly.
This energy can injure your face and chest, including:
- Bruised face
- Broken cheekbones
- Broken nose
- Broken teeth
- Bruised chest
- Broken ribs
These injuries will heal. But they can leave you disfigured and may require reconstructive surgery to repair them.
The force of the inflator can injure you. For example, the inflator can break or sprain your thumbs if your hands cover the airbag when it is inflated.
The risk of these injuries is greatest when the person sits near the dashboard or steering wheel. This makes short adults and children susceptible to airbag injuries. Instead of striking the airbag after it inflates, they strike the airbag as it is inflating. As a result, they absorb the full force of the inflator as they strike the airbag.
In these situations, the airbag can hit the occupant near the top of their head. The force of the inflator can snap their heads backward, resulting in severe or even fatal neck injuries.
A company called Takata manufactured tens of millions of defective airbags throughout the late 1990s and early 2000s. These airbags inflated with so much force that they would send shrapnel into the accident victim’s face and neck. They were also susceptible to unexpectedly triggering when there was no collision.
Liability for Airbag Injuries
The liability for airbag injuries depends on when the airbag was triggered. If it was triggered in response to a collision caused by someone else’s negligence, the at-fault driver would bear liability for the airbag injuries.
If the airbag injury resulted from a defective airbag system, the manufacturer bears product liability for the injury. Product manufacturers have strict liability for defective products.
Schedule a Free Consultation With Our St. Louis Airbag Injury Lawyers
Airbag injuries can cause disabilities and disfigurement. Contact Schultz & Myers Personal Injury Lawyers for a free consultation to discuss your airbag injuries and your options for seeking compensation for them.