There is little doubt based on safety studies that vehicle airbags offer protection against severe injuries in automobile collisions; that said, the deployment of airbags during a crash can also in and of itself cause injuries – albeit in a vast majority of cases, those injuries were classified as minor. So while data reveals that airbag deployment can cause injuries – most often to the face, upper extremities and torso – those injuries should be considered in the context of the more serious injuries that the deployed airbag prevented.
Studies have found that the eye area is especially prone to airbag injury, moreso if the party wears glasses. Such injuries include retinal detachment, lens ruptures and orbital fractures. Also, when the airbag deploys it releases chemicals which can be injurious to the eyes. Children seated in front are at risk of eye injuries due to height/position. However vulnerable the eye/face area appears to airbag injuries, studies have consistently shown that airbag deployment reduces the risk of skull fractures.
Airbags can also cause injury to the torso – specifically chest and abdominal area. Some of these documented injuries include pneumothorax, heart valve injury, rib fractures, aortic transection, and cardiac rupture. Overt and occult abdominal injuries have also been documented. Injuries to the clavicle and upper extremities (shoulder and forearm) are some of the most common airbag-related injuries seen. It makes sense that airbags would not add risk of lower extremity injuries, and the research bears that to be true.
If you or someone you love has been in an automobile accident and sustained injury – airbag-related or otherwise – call me now at 916.921.6400.