Learn About Your Legal Rights After Suffering Side Airbag Injuries
Modern vehicles are equipped with side airbags / side-curtain airbags that are designed to protect drivers and passengers in the event of a T-bone collision or other side impact accident. Unfortunately, these airbags don’t always deploy as they are supposed to, and in some cases they can cause extensive injuries from the side impact along with side airbag injuries. If you or a loved one has been seriously injured due to a side impact airbag failure or defect, you may be entitled to financial compensation, and you should speak with a lawyer about your legal rights promptly.
How Side Impact Airbags Are Supposed to Work
Like all airbags, side-curtain airbags are designed to inflate almost instantaneously in the event of a collision. Once a vehicle’s sensors detect a side impact crash, its side airbags should deploy to help protect drivers and passengers from injuries to the head and chest. As the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) explains:
“Head- and chest-protecting side airbags are designed to inflate in side crashes to prevent people’s heads and chests from contacting intruding parts of vehicle side structure, a striking vehicle or an object such as a tree or pole. . . . A head-protecting side airbag is particularly important because it may be the only thing between the occupant’s head and the striking vehicle, since window glass can shatter in a crash.
“Because of the small space between an occupant and the side of the vehicle, side airbags must deploy very quickly, typically within the first 10-20 milliseconds of a side crash.”
If a vehicle’s side airbags deploy correctly, they will serve as a physical buffer between vehicle occupants and injury risks both inside and outside of the vehicle. But, if they fail to deploy—or if they deploy improperly—they can leave drivers and passengers to suffer with serious side airbag injuries.
Common Side Impact Airbag Failures
So, that’s how side impact airbags are supposed to work. Now, why do side airbag injuries happen?
Side airbag injuries typically happen for one of two reasons—either: (i) a side impact airbag fails to deploy in the event of a collision; or, (ii) a side impact airbag deploys improperly, causing injuries rather than preventing them. Both of these can result from issues including:
- Failure to Detect a Side Impact Collision – A properly functioning sensor is the first essential component in the chain reaction that triggers a side airbag deployment. If a vehicle’s sensors fail to detect a side impact collision, then its side airbags won’t deploy.
- Failure to Deploy After Sensing a Collision – Once a vehicle’s sensors detect a side impact collision, then the next step is proper airbag deployment. Various issues can cause an airbag not to deploy after a vehicle detects a collision, from improper design and manufacturing to corrosion and other failures.
- Deploying Too Slowly – As noted above, side impact airbags must typically deploy within 10 to 20 milliseconds in order to protect drivers and passengers. This is faster than the blink of an eye. If a side impact airbag deploys too slowly, it won’t provide the protection it is supposed to provide.
- Deploying with Too Much Force – Side impact airbags can also cause injuries if they deploy with too much force. Concussions and other traumatic brain injuries (TBI) caused by airbags are a very real concern, and exploding airbags can cause chest injuries, facial injuries, and other serious and disfiguring injuries as well.
- Other Airbag Defects – Along with these issues, various other airbag defects can also cause side airbag injuries. When you choose our law firm to represent you, we will examine all potential causes of your (or your loved one’s) injuries and fight to recover just compensation by all means available.
Common Side Airbag Injuries
Issues with side impact airbag deployment can cause numerous types of injuries. These injuries can be life-altering, if not life-threatening, in many cases. Some examples of side airbag injuries for which we help accident victims, and their families seek just compensation include:
- Chest Injuries – Chest injuries can result from side impact accidents when airbags fail to deploy and when they deploy (or explode) with excessive force. In both scenarios, the forces imposed on the chest can be more than enough to cause rib fractures, collapsed lungs and other serious injuries.
- Facial Injuries – Facial injuries are also common in cases involving side airbag failures. Lacerations, punctures, jaw injuries, nose injuries and eye injuries can all result from an airbag failing to provide proper protection or an exploding airbag sending fragments and shrapnel (small, sharp, and often jagged fragments or pieces of metal) into vehicle occupants’ faces.
- Neck and Back Injuries – Neck and back injuries can also result from all types of side impact airbag failures. These include soft tissue injuries, nerve injuries, herniated discs, spinal cord injuries (SCI) and vertebrae fractures, and the consequences of these injuries can range from chronic pain to paralysis.
- Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI) – Whether an airbag fails to deploy or explodes with excessive force, failures during a side impact accident can cause various types of TBI. Along with concussions, these include coup-contrecoup injuries, diffuse axonal injuries (DAI), brain hemorrhages, intracranial hematomas, penetrating injuries, and other injuries that have the potential for severe consequences.
- Other Internal Injuries – Along with chest, neck, back and brain injuries, side airbag failures can cause other types of internal injuries as well. In many cases, internal bleeding will be a very real concern, and internal damage could cause organ failure—potentially resulting in a life-threatening emergency.
Talk to a Lawyer About Seeking Just Compensation for Your Side Airbag Injuries
If you need to file a claim for side airbag injuries, we have the experience required to fight for the financial compensation you deserve. 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. To get started with a free, no-obligation consultation, give us a call or tell us how we can reach you online today.