Carmakers put airbags in motor vehicles with good reason. They work. In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) estimates that these safety devices saved more than 50,000 lives over 30 years. But airbags aren’t perfect. Sometimes something goes wrong – and airbag deployment actually ends up injuring occupants.
Ongoing airbag issues prompt yet another recall
Earlier this year, ongoing concern about airbags prompted Ford to heed the NHSTA’s advice and recall millions of vehicles. Vehicles subject to the recall in the United States and Canada are equipped with Takata-made airbags. Takata is the same Japanese manufacturer that made airbags related to 18 known deaths and hundreds of injuries in the United States. Although the airbags now in question are not exactly the same as those with defective inflators, they are reportedly similar.
Analogous circumstances caused General Motors (GM) to recall 7 million pickups and SUVs in November 2020.
Recalls stemming from the prior Takata airbag issues began in 2014.
Examples of California airbag injuries
Although many injuries can be traced to malfunctioning airbags, occupants may also get hurt when airbags are activated in collisions. In any case these are some of the most common injuries stemming from airbag deployment:
- Trauma to the head and face – Sitting too close to the airbag (less than 10 inches away) put occupants of motor vehicles at greater risk for head and facial trauma upon activation. This type of trauma typically happens when sharp debris from the airbag deployment strikes the occupant, and is often more serious for babies, kids or people of less than average height.
- Chest and cardiac trauma – Even in a relatively “minor” collision, airbag deployment can cause trauma to the ribs and sternum. Internal injuries, including those to the heart, are also possible. These types of internal and external injuries are most common when the occupants are too close to the airbag when it is activated, or when the airbag doesn’t work properly.
- Ear trauma and auditory impairment – The noise generated by airbag deployment can sometimes cause temporary or permanent deafness. Other hearing impairmentfrom airbag deployment includes ringing in the ears (tinnitus), and eardrum ruptures. Some victims have reported dizziness and/or loss of balance.
- Eye trauma – Flying debris from airbag activations or “explosions” are known to cause eye injuries including lacerations. But debris is not the only threat. Chemical exposure following airbag activation also causes eye injuries.
- Lung damage and breathing difficulties – Inhalation of the chemicals or chemical byproducts following an airbag explosion can damage the respiratory system. Accident victims have experienced asthma and inhalational chemical pneumonitis following this type of exposure.
- Chemical burns – Airbag punctures, ruptures or explosions trigger release of certain chemicals. These chemicals can burn not only the eyes, but also the skin and any other areas subject to exposure.
- Puncture wounds and lacerations – Metal frames are used to support airbags. These frames sometimes shatter during an airbag malfunction or violent deployment. The shattered pieces can then strike the vehicle occupants, causing severe cuts (lacerations) and puncture wounds.
Your legal options following a Los Angeles airbag injury
If an airbag deployment in a motor vehicle accident or a malfunctioning airbag injured you or a loved one, you may have legal recourse. Depending on the circumstances, you may be able to pursue a product liability claim or simple personal injury claim.
The personal injury attorneys here at the Law Office of Parag L. Amin P.C. can easily assess your situation during a free consultation. If you have a viable case, we’ll discuss the legal option that is best for you. To get started, fill out our contact form or give us a call.