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6 ways an airbag can injure you in an accident

By Ken Gibson on July 12, 2021

During a car accident, the two best safety devices in your car are your seatbelts and airbags. Together, these devices have saved thousands of lives.  But, while airbags may prevent fatal injuries, you may still suffer serious trauma in a collision. At GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys, we have met with many clients who experienced hearing loss, neck pain, and burns after car accidents — some of which were the result of their airbags.

If you were injured by a negligent driver and suffered an airbag-related injury, you should not ignore your trauma. The at-fault driver is responsible for paying compensation for your accident, and you may be able to file a claim for one of these injuries.

1. Hearing damage

When two cars collide, it can be scary, confusing, and loud — but not for the obvious reasons. You may think that two cars crashing into each other will create an explosive-like sound, and that is the cause of your hearing loss. Yet it is often your airbags.

During a collision, a small explosion will occur in your steering wheel that allows your airbag to fill up with air and deploy. This explosion can reach sounds as loud as 160 decibels (dB). Unfortunately, the human ear can only process up to 90 dB before suffering permanent hearing damage. After an accident, it is important to see a doctor if you are experiencing a ringing in your ear, because that is a symptom of tinnitus.

2. Vision loss

Along with hearing damage, another permanent disability you can suffer in a car accident is vision loss. Your eyes are directly in the path of an airbag when it deploys, and they can absorb the full force of the bag. A broken bone in the skull can damage the eyes themselves or the optic nerve, causing blindness. Airbags are also filled with a powder called sodium azide, which can irritate eyes.

3. Facial fractures

As mentioned, airbags can cause severe trauma and even break bones. Fragile bones near the nose and eye can fracture during deployment, and a high-speed collision can also damage your teeth and jaw.

4. Chemical burns and scars

Airbags can cause two types of burns: thermal burns and chemical burns. Thermal burns, also called “rug burns,” occur when the skin is damaged by a rough material. The fabric of an airbag can scrape across your face’s skin at high speed, leading to first- or second-degree burns.

Chemical burns occur when acidic chemicals touch the skin and irritate or burn it. Airbags can cause chemical burns when sodium azide ignites and fills the bag with nitrogen gas. If the bag is ruptured during a collision, this high-temperature gas can be released and cause burns on the face and hands. The majority of these burns are second- or third-degree and should receive immediate medical treatment.

5. Neck and back injuries

Airbags are designed to protect drivers’ and passengers’ heads during a collision and prevent traumatic brain injuries, which can be fatal. While airbags reduced fatal accidents by 40%, a collision still puts pressure on the neck and upper back, potentially injuring the spinal cord. You can also experience whiplash, which occurs when the muscles of the neck, upper back, and shoulders are stretched.

6. Internal injuries

Internal injuries are wounds sustained to the organs of the body, such as your lungs, kidneys, and liver. Airbags help prevent the majority of these injuries, but there is still some risk of internal trauma. At high-speeds, a driver can be thrown against the steering wheel, putting pressure on the chest. This can cause:

  • Fractures in the ribs and potentially puncturing of the lungs
  • Damage to the liver, spleen, or heart
  • Internal bleeding and bruising on the chest

Once again, sodium azide makes an appearance. It’s easy for a driver or passenger to breathe in this chemical when an airbag deploys, irritating the lungs. For individuals who have asthma, sodium azide can also cause an attack.

Getting compensation for an airbag injury

We should not discount how important airbags are. These devices have saved over 50,000 lives in a 30-year time period. Unfortunately, drivers and passengers can still suffer serious injuries that require costly medical treatment. These costs can quickly add up and cause anxiety surrounding finances.

But you should not have to pay for these costs alone. The driver who injured you is responsible for paying compensation through his or her insurance policy.

Insurance companies will often dismiss or minimize injuries caused by airbags, but our team at GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys can hold them to their policies and fight to get you full compensation for your injuries.

GibsonSingleton serves our neighbors in Virginia, and we work to prevent injuries from happening by sharing safety information. But when a serious accident happens, we consider it a calling to help those who are hurt.

If you were injured by a negligent driver in a Middle Peninsula car accident, reach out to us at GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys. Our Virginia injury attorneys know what it is like to be an accident victim, and we can help you take the next steps to get compensation.

To get a free case evaluation, call us today at (804) 413-6777 or toll-free at (855) 781-6777. We will sit down with you in a free meeting and explain how to get compensation for your injuries.

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Prevention, empathy, and diligence are hallmarks of everything we do at GibsonSingleton Virginia Injury Attorneys. Our community can see these ideals lived out in our work to prevent personal injuries from happening.

  • Safety Education
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