A Brief History Of Airbags

The first airbag was installed in the 1950s. By 1995 approximately 70 percent of the motor vehicles manufactured in the United States came equipped with airbags. In the late 1999’s laws were  passed requiring airbags to be installed in all newly manufactured vehicles. Under the current law, all cars manufactured on or after 1998 were required to have airbags and all light trucks manufactured on or after 1999 were required to have air bags.

Do airbags really save lives?

Yes. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration airbags save thousands of lives every year. However, airbags can cause severe, and sometimes permanent, injuries. The statistics related to airbag injuries have been somewhat ignored because approximately 29,000 lives have been saved by airbags since 2009.

How do airbags work?

Airbags are made from a light and strong fabric that are packed into various locations throughout the vehicle. The driver’s side airbag is packed into the steering wheel while front passenger side airbags are stored behind the dashboard.

All vehicle airbags are connected to a series of crash sensors. These crash sensors are placed throughout the car. Theses sensors can tell when the vehicle has been in involved in a crash. When the sensor sense a crash they send signals to the airbags causing them to deploy if the vehicle is involved in a low-crash range of 8 to 14 MPH (naturally, they also deploy at higher speeds as well.)

Once the sensor determines there is an accident it sends an electronic alert to an inflator system that inflates the airbag. This inflator system ignites a chemical reaction which produces an explosion of nitrogen or argon gas that fills the airbag. This whole process takes place in a matter of milliseconds. These chemical explosions can cause airbags to deploy at speeds over 100 MPH — a speed the exceeds most crashes – and can cause serious trauma related injuries.

Who is most likely to be injured by airbags?

Approximately 2.5 percent of drivers involved in serious crashes are likely to suffer serious injury due airbag deployment. However, most airbag injuries occur in low-speed collisions. Shorter people are located closer to airbags and therefore are at an increased risk of injury. Children and elderly are also more susceptible to airbag injuries.

Some airbags may be defective and are more likely to cause an injury. Manufacturers may be held liable for injuries caused by defective airbags.

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Types Of Injuries Caused By Airbags

Many types of injuries can occur because so many different parts of the body are exposed to airbags. The following are some examples of ways in which airbags can cause serious injuries to drivers and passengers:

  • The speed at which the airbag deploys can cause abrasions, lacerations and impact burns which can be disfiguring;
  • The chemical reaction that produces the hot gases which inflate the airbag can cause burns;
  • Vehicle occupants can suffer chemical burns if the airbag is ripped and the chemicals that inflate the airbag are released;
  • An asthma attack could ensue if the chemicals are release in the air and then inhaled;
  • Cardiac and pulmonary complications may result. The right ventricle is located right behind the sternum and the sternum sustains a full impact upon deployment;
  • This can result in a cardiac contusion or a ruptured right atrium which is very susceptible to ruptures because it is a very thin vascular structure;
  • Airbag deployment can cause fractures in the rib, sternum, skull, eye socket (orbital fracture), nose (nasal fracture), wrist, elbow, fingers;
  • Eye injuries like retinal tears or retinal detachment;
  • Internal bleeding;
  • Organ failure;
  • Major Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI);
  • Concussion/closed head injury/Post Concussion Syndrome;
  • Lumbar/lower back sprains and strains;
  • Cervical/neck sprains and strains; and/or
  • Herniated or protruding discs.

Were you injured by an airbag in a car accident caused by someone else? Our attorneys can help.

No matter where you are located, we are just a phone call away. Call our Boston Car Accident Lawyers to schedule a free no-obligation case review and consultation at (508) 588-0422 and you will have taken your first step towards getting fair compensation for your injuries or for the loss of a loved one.

Our knowledgeable and experienced Boston Personal Injury Attorneys assist auto / car accident victims throughout all of Southeast Massachusetts, including but not limited to Brockton, Taunton, Bridgewater, Weymouth, Hingham, Quincy, Plymouth, Marshfield, Attleboro, Braintree, Rockland, Hanover, Duxbury, Whitman, Middleborough, Raynham, Mansfield, Avon, Canton, Stoughton and all smaller cities and rural areas in Southern Massachusetts. We also serve the counties of Plymouth, Norfolk, Bristol, Massachusetts.