How do airbags work and why are they potentially dangerous?

airbagYou drive into DC every day for work and see fender-benders all the time. Even though many of the accidents seem minor, you notice that airbags almost always deploy. You wonder if what you’ve heard is true—drivers and passengers can be injured by airbags, the very things that are supposed to keep them safe. During rush hour last week, you found out for yourself. You were forced to come to a sudden stop and, although you were able to brake in time, the truck behind you wasn’t and crashed into your bumper. You hit the car in front of you and your airbags deployed. You were left in a daze. Your face felt irritated and sore, and you noticed burns on your neck. You’re pretty sure you would have been fine if the airbag hadn’t gone off. Why did this happen?

How the Airbag Does Its Job

Injuries from airbags are quite common, and knowing how these safety features work can help you understand why. Airbags are typically located in the steering wheel and the dashboard. When inflated, the driver side airbag is about the size of a beach ball, while the passenger’s side airbag is much larger. When the crash sensor senses a collision, it will deploy the airbags in about 1/20th of a second. While this cushion can be a lifesaver in a serious crash, it can also cause injuries due to the following:

  • Force. The force of the airbag can cause broken bones and lacerations.
  • Irritating Chemicals. Once the sensor notices impact, it triggers an igniter to produce a gas and inflate the airbag. Typically nitrogen or argon, the gas fills the airbag quickly, which provides a cushion for the occupant’s head and face to land in. Deployment of an airbag typically releases dust and chemicals that can burn and irritate the eyes and skin.
  • Malfunction. If the crash sensors don’t detect a collision, they may not deploy the airbag. Additionally, if they incorrectly feel an impact, they can deploy when not needed making driving dangerous.

Shevlin Smith Can Help

When an airbag does more harm than good, you may end up with medical bills and vehicle repairs. The legal team of Shevlin Smith may be able to help you receive compensation that can help pay for these expenses. Contact us today to learn how.