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Fort Lauderdale Personal Injury Attorneys > Blog > Auto Accidents > Side Airbags Can Cause Serious Injuries

Side Airbags Can Cause Serious Injuries


Frontal airbags have been required in all new vehicles since the late 1990’s, but in recent years more and more manufacturers have also started installing side airbags in newer models. These devices go a long way towards preventing occupants from sustaining serious injuries in the event of a crash. In fact, some reports reveal that side airbags reduce the risk of death in drivers by almost 40 percent. Unfortunately, side airbags also often end up causing injuries, like burns, fractures, and eye or ear trauma to vehicle occupants.

What are Side Airbags? 

Side airbags are designed to inflate on the sides of a vehicle, protecting an occupant’s head and chest and spreading the load of impact to reduce impact forces. There are a few different types of side airbag systems, including:

  • Combination airbags that deploy from seatbacks, protecting the head and torsos of occupants;
  • Head-protecting curtain airbags, which deploy from the roof rail; and
  • Seat-mounted airbags that aim to protect the torso and pelvis.

Side airbags deploy quickly, usually within only a fraction of a second. When they deploy, however, will depend on the type of crash. For instance, deployment thresholds can be as low as eight miles per hour for narrow object crashes (i.e. collisions with trees or poles) and as high as 18 miles per hour for more widely distributed side impacts, like vehicle-to-vehicle collisions. Side curtain airbags are also often designed to deploy in rollover accidents when the system detects that a vehicle is tilting or moving sideways and can remain inflated much longer, in order to protect occupants involved in multiple-roll crashes. They also often cover window openings and are stiffer to help keep passengers from becoming ejected.

Side Airbag Injuries 

Airbag injuries can occur in a few different ways, often even when they are working correctly. For instance, these devices inflate so quickly that they can cause chemical and friction burns to the face, hands, arms, and chest. The small bones in the face are also prone to injury in severe impacts, as are the ribs. Some suffer traumatic brain injuries and chest injuries, while others experience eye irritation from the chemicals released by the airbag. These chemicals can also cause asthmas attacks and other respiratory problems in occupants.

It is also possible, on the other hand, for a side airbag to cause an injury because it malfunctioned. A problem with a sensor could, for instance, cause an airbag to deploy at the wrong time, or could result in a failure to deploy at all. Shrapnel from the propellant canister in airbag systems have even been known to strike vehicle occupants, causing severe lacerations. Fortunately, accident victims can often recover compensation for airbag-related injuries, either from the at-fault driver who caused the crash, or from the vehicle manufacturer responsible for the car’s production.

Call Today to Learn More About Seeking Compensation for Your Injuries 

For an assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of your own airbag injury claim, please call 954-566-9919 and set up a meeting with the dedicated Florida car accident lawyers at Boone & Davis today.




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