Child Safety and Airbags: What Every Parent Should Know

Jan 24, 2024Safety Tips

Airbags can present serious injury risks for children. While airbags are designed to protect vehicle occupants in the event of a crash, they can be dangerous for children whose bodies and brains are still developing. As the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP) explains:

“Because airbags (and seat belts) were designed to protect average-sized adult males and NOT children, they can be extremely dangerous to infants or young children seated in front of them. According to research conducted by CHOP, children exposed to airbags during a crash are twice as likely to suffer a serious injury.”

Unfortunately, manufacturers simply don’t take this risk into account in most cases. While some vehicles come equipped with on/off switches that disable airbags based on a passenger’s weight, even this does not provide adequate protection for children in all circumstances. As a result, child airbag injuries are alarmingly common, and many parents find themselves needing to hire an experienced airbag attorney to take legal action.

Understanding the Child Safety Risks that Airbags Present

When a vehicle’s crash sensors detect a collision, its airbags will deploy (or, at least, they are supposed to deploy) with extreme force. To protect occupants, a vehicle’s airbags must deploy almost instantaneously—in less than 1/20th of a second or about the blink of an eye. In many circumstances, this force is too much even for an adult’s body to withstand. As a result, airbag injuries ranging from concussions and facial injuries to arm and chest injuries are common.

For children whose bodies and brains are still developing, the forces generated during an airbag’s inflation can present even greater risks. While the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends that children under age 13 sit in the back seat to avoid impacts from frontal airbags, back seat airbags can also present risks. Child safety seats can help reduce children’s risk of suffering airbag injuries, but even the best child safety seats don’t provide complete protection.

Tips for Protecting Children From Airbag-Related Injuries

With this in mind, what can parents do to protect their children from airbag-related injuries? Here are some tips from the NHTSA and the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP):

  • According to the NHTSA, “rear-facing car seats should not be placed in front of an active airbag, and children under 13 should be seated in the back seat.”
  • Children should sit in age and weight-appropriate car seats or wear an appropriately positioned seatbelt at all times.
  • Infants and toddlers should ride in rear-facing car seats “as long as possible or until they reach the highest weight or height allowed by their car safety seat’s manufacturer.”
  • Once a child outgrows a rear-facing car seat, the child should wear a forward-facing car seat with a harness “as long as possible, up to the highest weight or height allowed by the car seat’s manufacturer.”
  • Children who have outgrown their forward-facing car seats should ride on a booster until they are at least four feet and nine inches tall.
  • Parents should never drive with children who do not have appropriate restraints available, and they should plan ahead to avoid having too many children in their vehicles if they do not have all necessary child safety seats or boosters.
  • If placing a child in the front seat is the only option, “move the vehicle seat back as far as it can go, away from the airbag[, and b]e sure the child is restrained properly.

What about disabling your vehicle’s airbags? The NHTSA says this isn’t necessary in most circumstances. However, it advises that disabling a vehicle’s airbags may be appropriate if:

  • A rear-facing child seat must be placed in the front seat because the vehicle doesn’t have a back seat or the back seat is too small to fit a rear-facing child seat, or,
  • A child under 13 years old must ride in the front seat because the vehicle does not have a back seat or the child requires frequent medical monitoring.

Filing an Insurance Claim or Lawsuit for a Child Airbag Injury

Even when parents take the necessary steps to provide maximum protection for their children, their children will still be at risk of suffering airbag-related injuries in the event of a crash. If your child has suffered an airbag-related injury, here’s what you need to know about hiring an airbag attorney to represent your family:

1. Child Airbag Injuries are a Very Real Concern

Even though modern vehicle airbag systems are supposed to be safe for children and adults, child airbag injuries are a very real concern. Children can suffer injuries due to airbag deployment, airbag non-deployment and airbag defects.

2. Parents Can (and Should) File Claims for Their Children’s Airbag Injuries

Parents who are forced to cope with the effects of child airbag injuries will be entitled to financial compensation in many cases. If your family has a claim, recovering this compensation could be important for your child’s health and your family’s financial stability.

3. Manufacturers Can (and Should) Be Held Accountable for Airbag Defects

Airbag defects are a leading cause of child airbag injuries. If your child was injured by a defective airbag, you can (and should) hire an airbag attorney to hold the manufacturer accountable.

4. The Costs of Airbag Injuries During Childhood Can Be Substantial

Over the course of a child’s lifetime, the costs of an airbag injury during childhood can be substantial. These include not only financial costs but also emotional trauma, pain and suffering, and loss of enjoyment of life.

5. You Can Hire an Airbag Attorney at No Out-of-Pocket Cost

If your family has an airbag injury claim, you can hire an attorney to handle your claim at no out-of-pocket cost. The first step is to schedule a free initial consultation.

Schedule a Free Initial Consultation with an Airbag Attorney

If you need to know more about filing a claim for a child airbag injury, we encourage you to contact us promptly. To speak with an experienced airbag attorney about your family’s legal rights as soon as possible, please call us or request a free consultation online today.