Airbag Head & Traumatic Brain Injuries

Learn About Your Legal Rights Following an Airbag Head Injury

The primary purpose of an airbag is to prevent head injuries. Federal law now requires that all vehicles sold in the United States have airbags, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that airbags have saved more than 50,000 over the past 30 years—primarily as a result of preventing head and traumatic brain injuries (TBI).

But, airbags don’t always work. In fact, in some cases airbags cause head injuries and TBI rather than preventing them. If you or someone you love has suffered an airbag head injury, you may be entitled to financial compensation, and you should speak with a lawyer about your legal rights.

How Airbags Cause Head Injuries

Airbags can cause head injuries and TBI in four primary ways. In some cases, airbag and vehicle manufacturers can potentially be held liable for the financial and non-financial costs of victims’ injuries. The four primary causes of airbag-related head injuries and TBI are:

  • Blunt-Force Trauma from the Airbag – Airbags deploy with extreme speed and force. While they are supposed to inflate just enough to cushion drivers’ and passengers’ heads in the event of a collision, in some cases the speed and force of deployment can injure—rather than protect—vehicle occupants. When airbags explode instead of deploying properly (as is the case with many Takata airbags), this can present a high risk for an airbag head injury as well.
  • Airbag Failure to Deploy – Airbag and vehicle manufacturers can also be held liable when airbags fail to deploy. Whether due to a faulty sensor, inflator or any other defective component, airbag failures can provide strong grounds to seek just compensation for all types of head injuries.
  • Delayed Airbag Deployment – If an airbag deploys too late, this can give drivers’ and passengers’ heads just enough time to get too close to the steering wheel, dashboard or seat in front of them. This amplifies the force at the time of impact, and can significantly increase the risk of a serious airbag head injury or TBI.
  • Secondary Impacts Caused By Airbag Deployment – When airbags deploy and explode, they can also cause drivers’ and passengers’ heads to impact other objects in the vehicle. This secondary impact can cause head injuries and TBI as well; and, here, too, manufacturers can be held liable in many cases.

Common Airbag Head Injuries

All of these issues can lead to a variety of types of airbag head injuries. These include (but are not limited to) common injuries such as:


Concussions are the most common form of TBI caused by airbags. While concussions are generally classified as a “mild” form of TBI, they can have significant and long-term consequences, and adequate treatment and rest are essential for a full recovery.


A contusion is a bruise on the brain. Contusions can vary widely in terms of their severity and risk—with the most severe contusions presenting risks for long term, and potentially permanent, complications. The primary risks associated with contusions relate to the swelling associated with drivers’ and passengers’ bruises, which can put pressure on other areas of the brain.

Coup-Contrecoup Injuries

Coup-contrecoup injuries happen when the head bounces off of one object (i.e., an airbag) before making contact with another object (i.e., a headrest) on the opposite side. They can cause concussions, contusions and other forms of TBI, and they can have a wide range of short-term and long-term consequences.

Diffuse Axonal Injuries

Diffuse axonal injuries (DAI) are characterized by tearing of the connective fibers within the brain. They can have widespread effects within the brain, and can cause comas, permanent brain damage, and other serious complications.

Facial Fractures

Along with TBI, another common form of airbag head injury is a facial fracture. The forces involved with airbag deployments and explosions are more than enough to fracture bones in the face, including ocular bones and bones in the nose and jaw.


A hematoma is characterized by the pooling of blood within the brain or skull. Hematomas can result from airbag failures, deployments and explosions, and they will require emergency medical attention in many cases.


A hemorrhage, also called a brain bleed, is a type of airbag brain injury that involves bleeding either within the brain tissue or between the brain tissue and the skull. Similar to hematomas, these can be extremely dangerous injuries, and they will often constitute medical emergencies.

Along with these (and other) forms of head injuries and TBI, airbag deployments and explosions can also cause eye injuries and blindness in some cases. When airbags send metal fragments and plastic debris flying into drivers’ and passengers’ faces, they can cause serious (and in some cases disfiguring) facial injuries as well.

What Compensation Can You Recover for an Airbag Head Injury?

If you or a loved one has suffered an airbag head injury, what compensation are you entitled to recover? Ultimately, the answer to this question depends on your (and your family’s) unique circumstances. With that said, generally speaking, the types of compensation that may be available in airbag head injury cases include:

Compensation for Financial Losses from Airbag Head Injuries

  • Medical bills for diagnosis, treatment, surgery, rehabilitation and recovery
  • Prescriptions, medical supplies, transportation and other out-of-pocket costs
  • Loss of income, benefits and future earnings

Compensation for Non-Financial Losses from Airbag Head Injuries

  • Emotional trauma resulting from the accident or airbag explosion
  • Pain and suffering caused by the airbag head injury
  • Scarring and disfigurement (whether due to facial injuries or surgery)
  • Loss of consortium, companionship, support, services and enjoyment of life
  • Loss wages or loss of earning capacity

Contact Us for a Free, No-Obligation Consultation

Lead airbag injury lawyer, David P. Willis is a Board Certified Personal Injury Trial Lawyer since 1988 and has been representing injured clients against product makers and the automobile manufacturers for 40+ years. If you, your spouse or your child has suffered an airbag head injury, we encourage you to contact us promptly to learn more. For a free, no-obligation consultation, call us or tell us how we can reach you online today.