Being involved in a car accident can be one of the most traumatic—and too often, deadly—situations that you or any driver could be involved in on the road. Fortunately, recent developments in safety features, such as airbags, and efforts to combat distracted driving have helped make Georgia’s roads safer for you and other drivers alike.
Despite this, the risk of injury in a car accident is ever-looming, and reckless drivers can still cause an untold amount of damage to both yourself and other passengers if proper precautions are not taken. Even worse is the fact that safety devices meant to protect you can, in turn, exacerbate an accident injury further, or even cause unnecessary harm due to accidental deployment.
To best understand what types of injuries you may sustain—and what you can be compensated for—in the event of airbag deployment, we’ve outlined several common types of airbag injuries and how best to prevent them.
How Can Airbags Both Help and Harm Drivers?
While an airbag’s purpose is to soften or otherwise “cushion” the blunt impact of a car accident, the specific mechanisms of an airbag can sometimes cause more harm than good depending on:
- The rate of airbag deployment;
- Chemicals used within/on an airbag;
- The design of the airbag/car; and
- The use of a seatbelt.
Understanding your car’s model and build—particularly its safety features—is key to negating any negative side effects during an accident. A car with an older airbag mechanism, for example, may deploy at an inappropriate time or fail to deploy at all, resulting in unnecessary injury to drivers affected by faulty or malfunctioning airbags.
Airbag Deployment Injuries
In order to successfully prevent injuries during a car accident, airbags must deploy with explosive force upon sudden deceleration—often taking only milliseconds after impact to fully inflate. Unfortunately, this means that if a driver or passenger comes into contact with the airbag or dashboard before an airbag is fully inflated, severe injury can occur.
In addition to any injuries sustained during an accident, airbag deployment can also result in several other kinds of injury, including (but not limited to):
- Abrasions to the upper body (arms, chest and face);
- Burns to the hands, arms and chest;
- Wrist injuries and/or sprained fingers;
- Cervical spine injuries including fractures, strains and blunt force trauma;
- Concussions, brain swelling, brain bruising and loss of consciousness;
- Lacerations to the liver, spleen, veins, heart, arteries, lungs and brain stem;
- Asthma attacks, coughing and throat irritation;
- Hearing loss and other trauma to the ear;
- Internal bleeding; and
- Fetal injury or puncture to the placenta in pregnant women.
Any of these injuries can result in severe, life-long pain, and in extreme cases can even be fatal if airbag deployment is delayed or otherwise malfunctioning. Too often, the injuries caused by an airbag are just as bad (if not worse) as the accident itself.
How Can I Best Prevent Airbag Injuries?
Because airbag deployment can carry the risk of serious harm, it is very difficult to completely eliminate the risk of injury during (and immediately following) a serious car accident. By practicing safe and defensive driving, as well as utilizing a vehicle’s other safety features, the risk of airbag injury can be minimized to keep both you and your passengers as safe as possible in the event of an accident.
Common ways to prevent airbag injuries before and following an accident include:
- Always wear your seatbelt – Airbags are designed to supplement seatbelts, not completely replace them. Ensure that both you and all of your passengers are properly fastened (including children, who may require a car seat or booster seat) before embarking on any commute, no matter how short it may be.
- Sit as far away from the wheel or dashboard as possible – The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends that at least 10 to 12 inches of space between your chest and the airbag enclosure is given to ensure that the airbag has ample time to deploy before impact.
- Do not allow small children to sit in the front seat – Because children are smaller, the risk of airbag injury or fatality is much higher compared to adults over 5’4” in height. Ensure that all children in your vehicle are securely fastened and restrained in a seat appropriate for their age and height.
- In addition, NEVER put a child in a rear-facing car seat in the front seat!
- Ensure the steering wheel is in a proper position – To prevent arm/wrist injury, try to keep the steering wheel at a level or parallel position to your chest. Also, try to hold the steering wheel at a 9 and 3 o’clock or 8 and 4 o’clock position to prevent your limbs from hitting your face if the airbag deploys.
Contact an Experienced Car Accident Attorney
While the risk of injury in an accident can never be completely eliminated, taking necessary safety precautions can help minimize the possibility of injury in the event of airbag deployment. In the event that another driver has caused unnecessary harm to either you or a passenger, you may be entitled to compensation for the injuries sustained.
Greathouse Trial Law has a proven track record of helping our clients affected by car accident and airbag deployment injuries receive the results they deserve at the time they need them most. If you or a loved one has been injured in a car accident or due to a faulty airbag deployment, contact us to discuss your legal options in a free consultation today.