The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that as of January 1, 2009, more than 28,000 lives had been saved by the front airbags in cars or trucks. Front airbags have been required equipment in new passenger vehicles since the 1999 model year. Side airbags have also been found to dramatically reduce the risk of death for drivers and passengers. While side airbags are not specifically mandated, the vast majority of new passenger vehicles have them in order to meet the required level of head and torso protection in side-impact crashes.
Although they are intended to save lives and prevent serious injuries, airbags also present the risk of injuring a vehicle’s occupants. If you or your loved one was injured or killed by an exploding or otherwise defective airbag in a car, SUV or truck, the Indianapolis airbag injury lawyers of McNeely Stephenson can help you obtain compensation for your loss. We have been successfully litigating injury cases in Indianapolis and across the state of Indiana since 1982. Call us at 855-206-2555 to schedule a free consultation about your accident.
HOW AIRBAGS WORK
Airbags are stretchable materials tightly compressed into small areas of the vehicle. Crash sensors monitor things like sudden stopping, impact and seat occupant status. These sensors relay data to the airbag control unit. Once the control unit determines there has been an accident, it sends a signal to the airbag inflator system which sets off a chemical charge producing an explosion of nitrogen gas to fill up the airbag. All of this takes place almost instantaneously, in milliseconds, and with the force of nearly 200 miles per hour. When any aspect of this safety system malfunctions, lives can be lost or forever changed.
CAUSES OF AIRBAG FAILURES AND INJURIES
The crash sensors are the key to airbag success. If they malfunction, the airbags may not deploy when they should. On the other hand, faulty sensors can cause airbags to deploy when there hasn’t been a crash. Airbags have been known to deploy when a vehicle hits a bad pothole at high speed or when crossing railroad tracks.
Most recently, millions of vehicles worldwide have been recalled because of defective airbags which inflate suddenly and inexplicably or with such force that metal shrapnel is sent into the occupant’s face and torso. Several deaths and more than 100 injuries have been linked to Takata airbags since 2001.
Airbags can also cause injuries because of the size or position of the person in the vehicle. Children under 12 are especially at risk of air bag injuries, as are drivers of short stature because they generally sit closer to the steering wheel.
COMMON INJURIES CAUSED BY AIRBAGS
Some of the common injuries associated with airbags are:
- Abrasion to the face, chest or upper extremities
- Bruising to the face, chest, upper extremities, knees or internal organs
- Fracture of face, skull, ribs, spine
- Burns on the chest, upper extremities or hands
- Concussion or traumatic brain injury
- Lacerations of arteries or organs
- Rupture inside the heart muscle
- Eye injuries
- Hearing loss or ear trauma
- Internal bleeding
- Irritation of the skin, also called airbag dermatitis
- Scarring and disfigurement.
Obviously, many of these injuries are likely to be fatal or to cause permanent impairment. The vehicle accident lawyers of McNeely Stephenson may be able to help you obtain compensation for your injuries or loss due to a defective or malfunctioning airbag.