Nearly every vehicle on the roadways in California includes airbags. These devices became commonplace in vehicles in the 1990s, and saved many lives in serious auto accidents happening across the state. Auto makers have conducted several safety tests to determine how best to place airbags in cars to lessen the impact of a collision. In this post, we wanted to take a closer look at the basics of airbags, and some of the reasons that they may not work as intended, which can have a devastating result for those in crashes.
How airbags work
Automobiles may contain up to 10 airbags connected electronically to impact sensors that measure the force and direction of an impact. The sensor then sends a signal that activates a propellant to release nitrogen gas into one or more airbags.
The bags deflate slowly when an occupant’s head or chest presses against them. All of this occurs almost instantaneously at the time of impact in motor vehicle accidents. Airbags act as a temporary cushion, protecting an individual from the steering wheel, dashboard, windshield, door and structural reinforcements.
Injuries commonly caused by airbags
Airbags save lives, but they also cause injuries. Airbags deploy with enough force to cause facial fractures, particularly to the nose. A frontal airbag’s powerful, explosive launch can also damage your eyes, ribs, fingers, wrists and arms. Modern cars have side airbags, and these may damage the spleen.
Experts recommend that drivers leave 10 inches between their chest and the steering wheel to minimize inflation impact.
Why do airbags fail?
Some injuries are the result of a malfunctioning airbag. A faulty sensor may fail to send a deployment signal or send an alert when there is no crash. Poor construction may cause the airbag to burst or the inflator to rupture.
Each crash is different, and it will be important to examine the facts of the accident to determine if the airbag caused injuries to the vehicle’s occupants. If there were defects with the airbag or the airbag’s sensors, individuals may have products liability claims for these injuries. These can be difficult cases, so it is important to understand all of your options before making any decisions on how to proceed.