Airbags are designed to save lives, but can cause injuries in car accidents
The purpose of airbags is to reduce the likelihood of death in a crash. They do this by preventing contact with the steering wheel or dashboard during a collision. These nylon bags can deploy within a split-second when the sensors on the front of a car detect a frontal collision. According to safercar.gov, airbags can deploy in crashes that occur at 8-14 mph or greater. Sometimes airbag burns and other injuries can occur during a collision.
Common airbag injuries
According to a study published in Medscape, airbags are inflated by nitrogen during deployment. Carbon dioxide is also released during the process. These two substances form a highly alkaline substance called sodium hydroxide. Airbag deployment has caused the following injuries:
- Irritant dermatitis — exposure to gases and abrasive powders often causes irritant dermatitis. This usually affects the upper chest, arms and face. Common symptoms include erythema (red patches on skin), swelling, purpura (skin hemorrhages), itching, burning and stinging.
- Traumatic lesions — abrasions, lacerations and friction burns that can affect the hands, wrists, forearms, head, face and neck. The impact of an airbag opening often causes these injuries.
- Chemical burns — highly alkaline gasses and chemicals emitted from airbags often cause burns. These substances can penetrate the skin and cause deep tissue injuries in some cases.
- Thermal burns — exposure to high temperature gas from the explosion of chemicals that affect the hands, arms and chest.
- Eye and ear lesions — damage to the eyes and ears caused by exposure to highly alkaline aerosol vapors or from contact with other chemicals emitted during airbag deployment.
The study also found that children and elderly people affected by osteoporosis can sustain broken bones (particularly the sternum, ribs and clavicle), cervical spine contusions and respiratory complications from airbag deployment. These injuries can be life-threatening.
There is also the possibility of traumatic brain injuries and/or whiplash from making head-on contact with a deployed airbag.
Contact our Chicago attorneys for legal help
Always seek medical attention after a crash. Your airbag may have prevented a serious injury and you may feel OK at the moment. You could have sustained trauma to the head, neck, spine, or internal organs from the impact of your collision. In addition, if you sustained burns or other injuries linked to airbag deployment, you will likely need to get medical attention for those, as well.
Medical treatment for your injuries will be costly. Moreover, you may need to take time off from work and avoid certain activities while you recover. The Chicago car accident attorneys at Coplan + Crane can help you get the compensation you need to help pay for medical bills, lost wages, property damage and other crash-related damages. Our experienced litigators know how to build strong legal cases against negligent parties and take on the insurance companies that represent them.