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Airbag Injuries

Posted by Harlene Labrum | Sep 30, 2022

Airbag Injuries

Airbags help save lives, but they can also lead to dangerous injuries, which can serve to complicate the matter of your car accident claim. If another driver causes you to be harmed in a car accident, incorporating any airbag injuries in your claim is critical to your ability to fully recover on your losses – and to regain your health and well-being to the degree possible. If this is the challenging situation you find yourself in, call the experienced Tennessee car accident attorneys at Labrum Law (615-338-9500) for the insightful legal guidance you are looking for.

How Airbags Work

Airbags are crafted from light fabric that fills with air as its deployed from either the steering wheel, a dash panel on the passenger side, or a side panel. The size of the fully deployed airbag depends upon its distance from the passenger it is protecting, which is why the driver's airbag is smaller than the front passenger's. In order to do their job, which is keeping the car's driver and occupants safe, airbags must be deployed with immense power – once the relevant sensors detect the degree of impact necessary to trigger deployment. In more serious accident situations, airbags are tripped and inflated more quickly by a gas that is produced in the process. While this can help save lives in the most dangerous accidents, dust, chemicals, and other lung irritants can be released.

Airbags: The Statistics

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the following three important statistics apply to airbag usage in the United States:   

  • Front air bags on our vehicles saved 50,457 lives from 1987 to 2017 (enough to fill a major league stadium NHTSA points out).
  • In 2017, front airbags saved the lives of 2,790 vehicle occupants (aged 13 and up).
  • Front airbags decrease the risk of front-crash driver fatalities by 29 percent and the risk of front passenger fatalities (for those 13 and older) by 32 percent (NHTSA)

All passenger cars since model year 1998 – and all pickups, SUVs, and vans since 1999 – have been equipped with front airbags as part of their standard lineup. Many newer passenger vehicles of all kinds are now also offering side airbags (SAB) as either standard or optional equipment. If another driver causes you to suffer airbag injuries in a car accident, the seasoned Tennessee car accident attorneys at Labrum Law are standing by to help. 

The Five Basic Categories of Airbag Injuries

Airbags can injure you in the process of saving your life or protecting you from even more serious injuries in the course of an accident, and these airbag injuries are generally grouped into five basic categories.


When an airbag activates, the sheer force against your skin can lead to abrasions and surface burns. Your face, arms, and hand are most vulnerable, and the results can be similar to the dangerous effects of road rash (the damage caused by dragging against the ground in the course of an accident). Additionally, when the skin reacts to the chemicals that are discharged during an airbag's deployment, it can lead to what is known as airbag dermatitis.

Facial Injuries

Your face is very likely to come into contact with the airbag as it inflates, and while this helps to protect your head from going through the windshield, it can damage the fragile bones in your face. When the impact is intense, a concussion and/or damage to the eye is possible. Your face is especially vulnerable to injury when a front airbag is ignited.

Injuries to the Chest

Your chest area is also vulnerable to the impact of your front airbag, and it can lead to soft tissue injuries and/or to broken bones in the area affected.

Injuries to the Neck and/or Back

the immense power behind an airbag deploying leaves your neck and back susceptible to painful injuries, including soft tissues injuries, such as whiplash.

Internal Injuries

The chemicals that are often released when an airbag is inflated during the course of a car accident can leave the lungs seriously irritated or can even trigger an asthma attack. When enough pressure is exerted on the chest or abdomen by the airbag's deployment, it can lead to life-threatening organ damage to the heart, liver, lungs, spleen, and more – and can result in internal bleeding.

Some of the specific airbag injuries that are most common include the following:

  • Sprained fingers and wrist injuries
  • Injuries to the cervical spine, including blunt force trauma, strains, and fractures
  • Skull fractures
  • Fractures to the face, arms, wrists, or rib cage
  • Lacerations to the lungs, heart, liver, spleen, veins, or arteries
  • Concussions and other forms of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
  • Fetal injuries (in pregnant women)

Protecting Yourself from Airbag Injuries

Airbags are the second line of defense when it comes to your safety (after your seatbelt), and there are a variety of steps you can take to help airbags better protect you and minimize the risk of airbag injuries in the process (according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety). These include all the following:

  • The driver and the front passenger should both sit in the middle of their seats with their backs upright and their feet planted (as appropriate for the driver).
  • No one should rest their head, arms, or legs against an airbag at any time – the risk of injury with deployment is simply too great.
  • Avoid installing any aftermarket seat or dash covers, which can interfere with an airbag's safe deployment.
  • Motorists should allow at least 10 inches between themselves (at the chest level) and the airbag. Shorter drivers may need to angle their seatbacks slightly to achieve this distance.

Contact an Experienced Tennessee Car Accident Attorney in Your Corner

If a negligent driver leaves you injured in a car accident, including any airbag injuries you sustain in your car accident claim is critical. The formidable Tennessee car accident attorneys at Labrum Law recognize the gravity of your situation and dedicate their practice to skillfully fighting for the legal rights and rightful compensation of clients just like you. We are on your side, so please do not delay contacting or calling us at 615-338-9500 today. 

About the Author

Harlene Labrum

Harlene is focused and passionate about helping those injured in car wrecks.  She earned her J.D. at Nashville School of Law and her Bachelor's degree at State University of New York at Albany, awarded with the highest GPA and high honors.  Harlene began her career in law as a personal injury par...

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