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While airbags do in fact save lives in car accidents, that does not mean that those who are restrained by an airbag emerge unscathed, as a car accident lawyer can attest. In some cases, an airbag itself can actually cause death, rather than prevent it. When it comes to walking away from a crash involving airbags, the number one predictor of your survival remains using a properly secured seat belt. Failure to use a seat belt increases the chance that a person will be seriously injured or even killed by an airbag.
It’s important to keep in mind that an accident necessarily involves an incredible amount of force both outside and inside of the vehicle. Airbags are designed to prevent a person in the car from being forced out of the car through a window or seriously injured from a side impact. To do this, however, the airbag must be deployed with a great deal of force as well to counteract the force that may be carrying the individual towards the windshield.
Even when drivers and passengers are properly restrained, they can still sustain serious, but non-life-threatening injuries from airbags such as abrasions to the face and arms, contusions, burns, fractures, concussions, bruising, cuts, eye injuries, internal bleeding, hearing loss, and irritation of the lungs, mouth, throat or skin.
It is possible, however, to mitigate these potential injuries. First, everyone in the vehicle should wear a seat belt without exception. The car should not move out of park until all belts are locked in place. Make certain that you are sitting at least 10 inches from the airbag. Have your car serviced regularly and pay close attention to recalls that affect the airbags. The largest safety recall in U.S. history involves airbags that have killed 11 people and injured 180 due to flying shrapnel from deploying airbags. If you purchase a used car, find out as much as possible about the history of the vehicle including having your mechanic inspect the car carefully, especially if the car was previously in an accident where the airbags deployed.
If you have children in the car that are still in car seats, ensure that the seats are properly installed and you are using the correct seat for the child’s height and weight. Rear-facing car seats should never be used in seats with front airbags. Children should not ride in the front, but if necessary, the oldest child should sit in front with the seat back as far as possible. Children who are sitting in the back with seatbelts should be instructed on sitting properly in the seat and keeping the seatbelt on correctly at all times.
No matter the event that precipitates the deployment, it is vital to keep the airbag with the car so that an investigation can be done to determine if the airbag was the cause of injuries. This means not allowing your insurance company to take the car away if it was totaled and not allowing anyone to cut out the bag or wipe the car’s computer clean. Vital information is stored in both places, which can make the difference in a personal injury claim for damages.