Case Studies: Real-Life Stories of Airbag Injuries and Their Outcomes

Defective airbags present serious risks for drivers and passengers. When defective airbags explode, they do so with extreme force, and this force is more than enough to cause life-altering injuries. Tragically, some defective airbag explosions have proven fatal as well, and to date, at least 26 deaths have been linked to defective Takata airbags. Unfortunately, it is impossible to know whether an airbag is going to explode—and, as a result, it is impossible to know if you may end up needing an airbag attorney to represent you or your family.

Along with at least 26 deaths, more than 400 injuries have also been linked to defective airbag explosions in recent years.

However, case studies are relatively few and far between. There are a few reasons why. First, many victims and families understandably prefer to keep the details of their ordeals private. Second, when airbag lawsuits result in settlements, the terms of the settlement are usually confidential. Third, many victims and families are yet to come forward.

Examples of Serious and Fatal Airbag Injuries and the Consequences of Airbag Failures

Even so, there are some cases that we can examine to see just how severe the consequences of airbag failures can be. This includes not only defective airbag explosions but also airbag failures involving delayed deployment and non-deployment. Here are some examples of stories that have been reported in the media, as well as a scientific study that examined the real-life risks of airbag failures:

An Airbag Explosion During a Moderate-Speed Car Accident Causes a Fatal Injury

According to a report published in September 2023, a 37-year-old male was killed when his airbag exploded during a crash at moderate speed. The report indicates that the driver suffered fatal hemorrhagic shock “due to bleeding from ruptured neck vessels caused by primary shrapnel projected from the faulty airbag system.” The report further indicates that a cylindrical metal object was found lodged in the driver’s spine, which was later identified as “part of the metal canister in the inflator component of the airbag system.”

An Unrecalled Takata Airbag Causes Serious Injuries

In December 2023, news outlets reported that a driver in Chicago suffered serious injuries after the driver’s Takata airbag inflator “exploded in a BMW and hurled metal fragments” toward the driver. Notably, the airbag inflator was not one that was subject to the widespread Takata recalls. However, shortly after reports of the accident surfaced, BMW reportedly issued a recall for 486 SUVs, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is investigating to determine whether more widespread recalls are warranted.

“Large Gold-Colored Metal Disc” Removed from Driver’s Lung After Airbag Explosion

In October 2023, the airbag inflator in another BMW SUV reportedly exploded, “shooting a large gold-colored metal disc that a surgeon had to remove from the driver’s lung.” This incident also appears to have contributed to BMW’s decision to issue an additional recall, with company representatives reportedly stating that the problem in this case was “in contrast to previous recalls related to Takata airbag gas generators in which the aging of the propellant was the issue.”

Airbag Failure Results in Pickup Truck Driver’s Death

In July 2023, reported that the driver of a 2003 Dodge Ram 1500 pickup truck was killed by a faulty Takata airbag. While the article does not state the driver’s cause of death specifically, it references the risks associated with Takata’s defective airbag inflators and notes that airbag explosions “may result in sharp metal fragments striking the driver or other occupants, resulting in serious injury or death.”

Study Finds Significant and Dangerous Inconsistencies in Airbag Deployment Time

Researchers intending to examine the risks of delayed airbag deployments and airbag non-deployments reached startling and unsuspected findings during their analysis. Despite testing multiple airbags of the same model and from the same manufacturer, they found that the time from gas release to full airbag deployment varied by up to 191 milliseconds. Since airbags need to deploy in around 30 milliseconds in order to provide adequate protection, this is a major issue that presents serious risks for life-altering and life-threatening injuries.

Common Injuries Resulting from Airbag Explosions and Other Failures

Airbag failures can cause many different types of injuries. While different types of failures (i.e., explosions, delayed deployment and non-deployment) present different risks, some of the most common types of airbag injuries include:

  • Facial injuries (i.e., facial lacerations, jaw injuries, nose injuries and eye injuries)
  • Arm injuries (i.e., nerve damage, soft tissue damage, and bone fractures and dislocations)
  • Chest injuries (i.e., rib fractures, internal bleeding and collapsed lungs)
  • Shrapnel/metal fragment injuries (i.e., severe cuts, puncture wounds, and severe loss of blood)
  • Traumatic brain injuries (i.e., concussions, coup-contrecoup injuries and cranial hematomas)

The Financial and Non-Financial Costs of Defective Airbags

These injuries (among others) can lead to significant financial and non-financial costs. This is true whether an injury requires emergency medical treatment or tragically results in an accident victim’s death. When accident victims and families have lawsuits related to airbag defects and injuries, they can (and should) hire an airbag attorney to seek full compensation for all of their accident-related losses. This includes compensation for their:

  • Medical expenses (i.e., emergency medical care, diagnosis, treatment and surgery)
  • Other out-of-pocket expenses (i.e., prescriptions, transportation and rehabilitative services)
  • Loss of income (i.e., wages or salary, commissions, tips, and benefits)
  • Emotional trauma (i.e., pain and suffering, emotional distress, and post-traumatic stress)
  • Other non-financial losses (i.e., loss of consortium, loss of companionship and loss of enjoyment of life)

Have You or a Loved One Been Harmed By a Faulty Airbag? Talk to an Airbag Attorney for Free

If you or someone you love has been harmed by a faulty airbag, it is important that you talk to an airbag attorney about your legal rights as soon as possible. You may have grounds to file an airbag lawsuit—and, if you do, your attorney will need to get to work right away. To learn about your legal rights in a free, no-obligation consultation, call us at 866-247-2247 or contact us online today.