Airbags in modern vehicles do save lives, without question. However, that doesn’t mean that airbags are 100% effective at eliminating injuries in car collisions.
In fact, airbags are sometimes the cause of injuries – and not just when the airbags themselves are faulty. The sheer force of an airbag exploding can cause significant physical trauma to drivers and passengers alike. The type of injury you can suffer from an airbag deployment may depend on where you’re sitting, what you’re doing and a number of other factors, but here are some of the most common injuries:
Burns and lung damage
Airbags operate through a chemical reaction that triggers an explosion, releasing gases (usually nitrogen or argon), along with dust and other chemicals into the air. The explosion takes about 1/20th of a second, and the resulting friction can cause contact burns to anybody in range. Inhaling the dust and chemicals can also lead to lung damage and other problems.
While the airbag may prevent your face from hitting the steering wheel, you may still feel like you went face-first into a rock when you hit that airbag. Injuries to the fragile eye sockets, cheekbones and jaws are not uncommon.
Whiplash and other spinal injuries are still quite possible, despite the presence of airbags. You can take quite a jolt as your body bounces between the airbag and the seat, and that can lead to chronic pain and permanent damage.
A broken sternum and broken ribs are both possible after colliding with an airbag – as are invisible injuries to your liver, heart, spleen and kidneys. It can take days for the full results of an airbag collision to be known.
Ultimately, you don’t want to let yourself be convinced that “everything is okay” after a crash just because the airbags deployed. Make sure that you get seen by a medical professional right away to check for both obvious and hidden injuries. With experienced guidance, you can find out more about your legal options.