When they function properly, airbags save lives, and since the 1999 model year, the U.S. has required manufacturers to include frontal airbags in all of their newest vehicles. With the mandate, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that airbags have saved over 50,000 lives since the 1990s.
Still, airbags can malfunction in some situations, injuring or even killing the same vehicle occupants they’re meant to protect. Thankfully, a car accident attorney from Roderick C. Lopez, PC can review your airbag injuries in Laredo, TX, and assess your right to compensation. Schedule a free initial consultation today to learn more or call at at (956) 529-7336.
How Our Laredo Car Accident Attorney Can Help If You’ve Sustained Airbag Injuries
Roderick C. Lopez, PC was founded in 2010 to serve accident victims in Laredo, Texas. Our founding lawyer has over 25 years of legal experience fighting at-fault parties and insurance companies on behalf of injured clients.
If you suffer an airbag injury, our firm’s Laredo car accident lawyer can help by doing the following:
- Evaluating your case for free, explaining your legal options for compensation
- Using his experience as a former claims adjuster to protect you from insurers
- Providing negotiation and litigation experience that has won millions of dollars for clients
A car accident can lead to seat belt and airbag injuries that leave you with long-lasting pain and disabilities. Contact Roderick C. Lopez, PC for a free consultation to discuss your injuries and the compensation you may be able to seek for them.
How Many Airbag Fatalities and Injuries Have Occurred?
Airbag fatalities are, thankfully, exceedingly rare. According to statistics, between 1990 and 2008, the NHTSA recorded over 290 airbag fatalities, which might seem like a lot at first glance. Still, roughly 260 of these deaths occurred before September 1998, when airbag regulations went into effect and effectively set airbag standards.
These standards reduced the power of airbag inflators, making them safer during car accidents without compromising deployment speed.
In addition, even after 1998, many of these losses took place largely as a result of misuse. Manufacturers designed frontal airbags to function with seat belts, so when you have no seat belt keeping you away from the inflating airbag, you can catch the full force of it in your face, head, or chest.
Of the 290 airbag fatalities mentioned above, about 230 of them involved occupants who were not wearing seat belts at the time of their accidents.
Now, although airbags have caused only a few hundred deaths, they have caused thousands of injuries. That said, however, some of these occur by design, as airbags catch your upper body and head to slow them down in the event of a frontal collision.
That impact can injure your head, face, neck, and chest, but it ultimately prevents you from suffering more serious injuries from hitting the steering wheel or dashboard.
Serious injuries also occur when airbags malfunction. In the U.S. alone, 26 people have died, and over 400 people have been injured due to defective airbags manufactured (and since recalled) by the company Takata.
Causes and Effects of Airbag Injuries and Deaths
Airbags can injure or kill vehicle occupants in many ways. Millions of defective airbags have reached consumers since the early 2000s. And even a properly functioning airbag can injure or kill children, small adults, and people who do not wear seat belts.
Some reasons for airbag injuries and deaths include:
Severe neck and chest injuries are often sustained when airbags function correctly but strike the occupant with an excessive amount of force. For example, when children or small adults sit in the front seats, an airbag can strike them in the forehead, causing their heads to snap back. The resulting neck injuries may produce neck strain, herniated discs, or even paralysis.
The inflating airbag can also strike the occupant in the chest, breaking their ribs, tearing cartilage, and hyperextending their chest muscles. In a worst-case scenario, the force of the airbag can damage the lungs or heart, threatening the life of the victim.
The liability for these injuries can fall on the driver, who — even though they might not have foreseen your exact injuries — could reasonably expect you to be injured when they caused your car accident.
Ejection can happen when an airbag hits a rear-facing car seat. Texas does not ban children from riding in the front seat, but it does ban drivers from misusing child car seats.
Additionally, all manufacturers prohibit the use of rear-facing car seats in a front seat with an airbag. In that position, the airbag can catch the edge of the rear-facing car seat and flip it over, ejecting the child and potentially inflicting severe head and spine injuries.
As mentioned earlier, Takata’s airbags used defective inflators. The chemicals in the inflators degraded in hot, humid weather, which caused the airbags to inflate unexpectedly. Worse yet, the chemicals were prone to explosion, sending shrapnel into the occupants’ faces and necks. The liability for these injuries has fallen on Takata and the car manufacturer under product liability law.
Schedule a Free Consultation With Our Laredo Car Accident Lawyer To Discuss Your Airbag Injuries
Airbags can cause permanent injury or death. Contact Roderick C. Lopez, PC for a free consultation to discuss compensation for your airbag injuries in Laredo, TX.