Airbags are carefully designed to deploy in a car accident to reduce any potential injuries you could suffer from.
They help provide a cushion between you, your passengers, and your car’s solid and unmoving parts, like the steering wheel and windshield. Despite this, they do sometimes cause injury, such as the many reported cases of severe burns from airbag chemicals out there.
This article will discuss what causes a vehicle to deploy its airbags, what the common injuries are, how to avoid them, and what to do if you’ve been injured by one. Most of the time, airbags work the way they were intended to and prevent you from suffering greater harm, but sometimes, they may fail to do so.
When this happens, it’s important to understand what could have caused the failure and how to react to what happened.
When Airbags Might Deploy
A few conditions must be met for an airbag to deploy. First, the vehicle’s computer checks many things, such as deceleration speeds, to determine whether or not the airbags should be deployed. The airbags will be deployed once the numbers fall within a certain range.
Most, if not all, of the conditions must be met before the computer allows the airbags to actually inflate. However, a few things could interfere with the computer and either cause the bags to deploy at inappropriate times or prevent them from inflating at all.
There could be many reasons why you need to modify your vehicle, from making small quality-of-life improvements to installing holders and stands for extra electronics. If you accidentally place these items in the way of the airbag deployment areas, they will have reduced benefits if they’re even able to deploy at all. So before installing large or bulky attachments, check to see where the airbags may come from and try to keep these places clear.
Should you decide that major repairs or electrical work is necessary, you need to be careful, since this work could also interfere with the airbags. Before performing this kind of work on your vehicle, remove the battery and give the airbag extra time to deplete before you begin your work.
Once completed, take your vehicle to a shop and allow them to reactivate the airbags and check to ensure there is no reason why it could malfunction. If you have an electric vehicle or are uncomfortable doing this yourself, you could always have the shop do it for you. Failing to take these precautions could cause the airbags to deploy prematurely or never at all.
What Injuries You Could Face
When your airbags deploy, they could cause a few injuries on their own despite being a safety measure. On top of the aforementioned burns, you could also experience a variety of injuries.
If the force they’re deployed with is too great, you could expect to deal with possible injury to your face or spine or even eye injuries from the chemicals or the impact. People with glasses are especially prone to eye injuries from airbags.
You may also experience damage to your lower spine or even rib damage should the bag hit your torso with too much force. On top of these, you could also experience arm injuries or even hearing damage. Luckily, your legs seem to be safe from the airbags in most cases, though a collision may still cause damage in general.
Children and adults who are shorter than average are at increased risk of experiencing airbag injuries.
How to Avoid Injuries In Accidents
There are a few ways to avoid being harmed by your airbags, and the most important step is proper preventative care. Always know where the airbags would deploy from in your vehicle and keep those areas clear.
When you have a new passenger, or you’re letting someone else drive your vehicle, ensure they’re aware of these deployment spots as well. If you make any modifications to the vehicle, even if the electrical systems weren’t involved, it may be a good idea to take the car to a repair shop and have them ensure the airbags are still fully functional. If they aren’t, have the shop perform the necessary repairs.
Outside of preventative care, the best way to avoid an airbag injury is to not be in a car accident at all. Unfortunately, not everyone on the road practices safe driving techniques, so even if you do everything right, someone else may cause a collision with you. This is another reason why knowing where your airbags come from is vital; you’ll be prepared for their deployment. Being caught by surprise can cause you to tense up or panic, which could result in injuries that could have otherwise been prevented.
Furthermore, another way to avoid injury is to always wear your seatbelt while on the road. Your vehicle’s safety measures are designed to work together, so relying on one without employing the others may lead to unnecessary harm and injury.
What to Do When You’re Injured
If you’ve taken all of these steps and are still injured by your airbags, there are a few things you can do. The first step is to contact an attorney and explain your situation to them, which is vital since you also need to keep all the devices associated with your accident and injury, namely the airbags and their deployment systems.
Without an attorney, your insurance may take possession of the entire vehicle if it’s declared a loss, and you would lose access to these valuable pieces of evidence. Your attorney will also help you decide whether to seek damages from the vehicle manufacturer, the airbag manufacturer, or the people involved during the inspection, maintenance, and replacement of the airbags.
Once all of this evidence has been collected and your car has been repaired, ensure the airbags have been replaced. Even if the airbags deploy prematurely, they’re a one-time-use-only item, so get new ones installed as quickly as possible.
Airbags are designed to protect us, just like seat belts are. However, just as with seatbelts, they can still sometimes cause injuries. That being said, the results of not having airbags at all are far more tragic and consequential than not having them at all.
There’s no reason to fear them, but being aware of what could happen when they deploy can prepare you to deal with the consequences as professionally as possible.