Certainly, airbags installed in today’s passenger vehicles are important safety features. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that more than 20,000 lives have been saved by airbags.
The bad news is that airbags can also cause severe personal injuries and even wrongful deaths. Detailed NHTSA reports show that since 1990, airbags have killed more than 230 people and injured thousands of others.
Because of this, it is important to be aware of how airbags can play a part in auto accident injuries. Following are the most commonly seen injuries related to airbags.
Airbags must come out of the steering wheel or front instrument panel very quickly to be effective in an automobile accident. (Airbags can be ejected at speeds as high as 200 miles per hour.) But that quick deployment means there is also a large amount of force. That force can cause contact injuries, including:
- Cuts and scrapes
- Contact burns
Types of eye injuries from airbag deployment include eye-socket bruising, broken bones of the eye socket, bleeding in the eyeball or ruptured eyeball. These injuries can lead to blindness or the development of angle-recession glaucoma.
Concussions can easily occur because of an airbag hitting a person’s head on deployment. But more serious injuries, like traumatic brain injury, can also result.
Because of the position of the airbag, children in rear-facing child seats in the front seat, and children and petite adults who sit closer than 10 inches from where the airbag deploys are at the largest risk for serious brain injury.
Broken Bone Injuries
If your arms are in the path of a deploying airbag, the airbag can cause broken bones in your arms, wrists and fingers.
Internal Organ/Soft Tissue Injuries
Because the engineering behind airbag systems was created for a 5 ft 8 inch 180 lb. male, the bags can put others who do not fit that driver model at serious risk for internal injury. But internal damage can happen to anyone, especially unconscious drivers who may be slumped over the steering wheel or drivers who are not wearing seat belts and who slide forward during a crash.
Other Airbag-Related Injuries
- Spinal cord injury
- Chest injury
- Amputation of arms or fingers