Frontal airbags have saved tens of thousands of lives since they became mandatory in all new cars in 1998. When you get into a frontal collision, the airbag deploys to catch you and slow your forward motion so you do not strike the steering wheel or dashboard at full speed.
But frontal airbags also have their dangers. In some car accidents, airbags can injure or even kill front-seat occupants.
After a crash in Portland, OR, our Oregon airbag injury lawyer at Tillmann Law Personal Injury Lawyers can review the circumstances and evaluate any injury or wrongful death claims that might result from it. Contact our law firm at (503) 272-8986 to schedule a free initial consultation if you need legal assistance.
Tillmann Law Personal Injury Lawyers was established to help accident victims fight for injury compensation. Our Portland car accident attorney has over 17 years of experience representing injured clients against at-fault drivers and their insurers.
If you get injured in a car crash in Portland, Oregon, our firm can provide:
An airbag injury may require expensive medical care and force you to temporarily or permanently cease working. Contact our Oregon car accident lawyer for a free consultation to discuss your collision and the compensation you can seek for your injuries.
Airbags have three parts. A sensor sits at the front of your vehicle to detect the rapid deceleration characteristic of frontal impacts. The sensor triggers an inflator that uses a chemical reaction to rapidly produce a large volume of gas. The gas inflates a vented airbag that erupts from its case in the dashboard or steering wheel.
The goal of the airbag is not to bounce you away. Instead, the vents allow the airbag to catch you and then deflate rapidly to slow you down.
Because of the location and orientation of the sensor, frontal airbags usually deploy only when the front of your vehicle strikes something.
Airbags might deploy in the following accident examples:
According to the 2021 Oregon Traffic Crash Summary report, Portland had 5,800 multi-vehicle crashes that year.
These crashes included:
The Oregon Traffic Crash Summary does not state how many crashes involved an airbag deployment. But you can estimate that about 3,696 vehicles had their airbags deployed during these crashes.
Airbags deploy at approximately 200 miles per hour. The force of the airbag bursting from its casing causes injuries for three reasons:
Despite the inflation force, fatal airbag injuries occur very rarely. Between 1990 and 2008, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) identified only 290 deaths caused by airbags. Many of these airbag fatalities happened before 2008, when the NHTSA changed its regulations to make airbag inflators less powerful and require deactivation switches.
Non-fatal airbag injuries are much more common.
When your face strikes the airbag, you can suffer injuries such as:
Most of these injuries heal without complications. But some facial injuries can produce significant scarring and disfigurement.
Smaller occupants have three main risks when riding in the front seat of a vehicle with airbags. First, people under about four feet six inches tall need to sit close to the steering wheel to reach the pedals. In this position, they can take the full force of the inflating airbag to their chest in a crash.
Second, an airbag can strike short occupants in the head, snapping their necks as their head whips back. A broken neck can cause death or paralysis when broken vertebrae sever the spinal cord.
Third, deploying airbags can strike and flip rear-facing car seats. The child might get ejected or suffer whiplash injuries in the crash.
A large recall involving almost all major car manufacturers has been running since 2014. A company called Takata supplied manufacturers with airbags that used chemicals that could break down in hot, humid weather. As a result, the airbag could deploy unexpectedly.
Worse yet, the force of the airbag deployment could shatter the inflator. Metal shrapnel from the explosion could lacerate the vehicle occupants. These defects killed 19 and injured over 400 in the U.S. alone.
The liability for airbag injuries can fall on the at-fault driver who caused the crash that resulted in airbag deployment. Liability can also fall on manufacturers of defective airbags. Contact Tillmann Law Personal Injury Lawyers for a free consultation to discuss your airbag injuries and who might bear liability for your losses.