A 3D render of a crash test dummy in a car about to perform an airbag test.

The airbag in your car is supposed to keep you safe in the event of an accident, but if the bag is defective, it could cause more harm than it prevents. Common injuries associated with defective airbags include broken noses, facial injuries, hand and arm injuries, chemical burns, or worsened injuries from the accident because the bag failed to protect the rider.

How Does a Bridgeport Airbag Injury Attorney Evaluate an Airbag Injury?

Of course, not every injury from an airbag is due to a defect. If you’re wondering whether your injuries were unavoidable or caused by this common safety device, an airbag injury lawyer can assist you in learning more about your car accident and who may have been responsible for your injuries. It’s also important to understand that there could be other liable parties in your case, such as an at-fault driver. We will help you identify all the options for recovering compensation.

How Does a Defective Airbag Cause Injuries?

It depends on the situation, but here are some types of cases we often see:

  • Failure to deploy. This one is fairly simple: If your airbag doesn’t deploy in a moderate-to-severe frontal or near-frontal crash, your injuries may be more severe than they would be otherwise. We’ll examine the information from your car’s Event Data Recorder (EDR) to learn more about the severity of the collision and why the airbag didn’t deploy.
  • Late or faulty deployment. Most people know if their airbag didn’t deploy at all, but a late or defective deployment is frequently less noticeable. However, if the airbag doesn’t inflate as quickly as it should, you might suffer more severe injuries. Again, the EDR data can be very helpful in determining whether your airbag deployed appropriately.
  • Unnecessary deployment. Airbags always carry some risk of injuring the person they’re protecting, which is why they aren’t supposed to deploy for minor collisions. In more serious crashes, the risks are typically outweighed by the potential benefits. But what if your airbag explodes because you drove over a pothole or hit a curb at a low speed? In these situations, you might be injured by an incorrect deployment.
  • Defective materials. Sometimes, the airbag is made with materials that are toxic or cause unnecessary injuries, like chemical burns, even if the bag deploys as it should.
  • Defective or uneven inflation. If the bag deploys but doesn’t inflate completely or inflates unevenly, you may receive too little or too much cushioning in the crash.
  • Electrical problems. In some cases, the electrical system that controls the airbag malfunctions, affecting how or if the bag deploys. This is another example where there could be more than one liable party: the airbag maker or the car manufacturer.

What Should You Do if You Suspect an Airbag Problem Caused or Worsened Your Injuries?

We recommend that you speak with a Bridgeport personal injury lawyer before you have your car repaired after any accident. First, we can help ensure you receive the total value of your car’s repair or replacement costs from the insurance company. Second, we may need to examine the airbag before it’s replaced and discarded.

However, if the airbag has already been disposed of, we may still be able to file a claim, especially if your airbag model is known to have issues. We’ll gather evidence in other ways to show that the airbag didn’t behave as expected in your accident. For instance, we might use witness testimony, videos of the accident that show the airbag deploying, EDR data, etc.

What Damages Are Available in an Airbag Injury Case?

We will discuss your injuries and other damages to ensure we have a complete picture of what your claim is worth. Additionally, we’ll consider insurance coverage—both yours and the at-fault driver’s.

Some people ask if an airbag claim is really necessary when car insurance is going to pay for their damages. In some cases, it may not be. However, if you have extensive damages that outpace the limit of your or the other party’s insurance coverage, you may still have unpaid damages after reaching the policy limit.

For example, Connecticut law only requires a minimum of $25,000 each in bodily injury liability insurance and property damage liability insurance. If a faulty airbag worsens your injuries, causing you to need surgery and other extensive treatments, your medical bills might be much higher than $25,000.

At the same time, the at-fault driver’s insurance company may claim they are not responsible for injuries caused by a defective airbag.

For these reasons, you may need to file more than one claim to cover all of your damages after an accident involving an airbag deployment.

Here are some of the damages you could suffer in a defective airbag deployment accident:

  • Medical bills. Facial fractures, broken arms or wrists, chemical burns, and other injuries can all be expensive to treat. For a “simple” fracture, you will need an emergency room visit, X-rays, possibly other imaging like a CT scan, cast setting, follow-up visits, and in some cases, physical therapy. Most health insurance plans will cover some, but not all, of the costs. If you’re still in treatment, we’ll usually wait until you’ve recovered completely to close your case, so no future costs are left out of your final settlement.
  • Lost income or earning potential. Again, a “simple” broken hand could mean you’re out of work for six weeks or more if you work with your hands. If you have multiple or severe injuries, you might be unable to work for months. We’ll fight to get you compensation for both paid and unpaid time off, and if you become permanently disabled, we can seek to recover your lost earning potential as well.
  • Permanent disability or disfigurement. Aside from the potential loss of income, a permanent disability or significant scarring can impact your quality of life in multiple other ways.
  • Pain and suffering. Car accidents, in general, are often traumatic for the people involved, and it’s not unusual for accident survivors to experience anxiety, depression, or symptoms of PTSD. For some, having an airbag deploy violently can be particularly distressing, and you may suffer both physical pain from your injuries and emotional or mental suffering as well.
  • Wrongful death. If you’ve lost a loved one and you believe a defective airbag caused or contributed to their death, we may be able to file a wrongful death claim. Damages might include loss of financial support, loss of consortium or companionship, funeral or burial expenses, final medical bills, and more.

Is There Anything You Can Do to Prevent Airbag Injuries?

You can’t prevent all possible injuries associated with airbag deployments, especially those caused by a defective airbag or other car component. However, there are some steps you can take to reduce the risk of being injured when your airbag deploys:

  • Avoid sitting too close to the steering wheel. Allowing at least 10 inches between the steering wheel and your chest or torso is ideal, but we understand this can be difficult for shorter drivers. If you have trouble reaching the pedals, you can tilt the seat backward slightly but don’t tilt it back too far, as this can also cause difficulties. If you’re still having trouble, consider using a seat cushion or tilting the steering wheel downward.
  • Always wear your seatbelt. If you don’t, you could be thrown forward in a crash, eliminating the 10 inches of space between you and the airbag. Seatbelts and airbags work best when used together.
  • Did you learn to keep your hands at the 10 and 2 o’clock positions when you were in Driver’s Ed? Many of us were taught this method, but in modern cars with airbags, it can increase the risk of hand and arm injuries. Instead, position your hands at 9 and 3 o’clock.
  • It’s also helpful to avoid placing your hands and arms in front of the steering wheel, so don’t turn the wheel hand-over-hand.
  • Never lean against the door while you drive. Although side airbags aren’t mandated, most modern cars have them, and if the door airbag deploys while you lean on it, you could suffer severe injuries. You’ll also be positioned better in your seatbelt if you don’t lean on the door.

How Can You Get Help From a Bridgeport Airbag Injury Law Firm?

Please contact Bert McDowell Injury Law for a free consultation about your case. We’ll help you understand how the airbag affected your injuries, determine who the liable parties are, and learn your options for seeking compensation. As always, there is no fee until we win or settle your case, so you have nothing to lose by learning more about your options.

Bert McDowell Jr. is a trial attorney who uses his experience in the insurance industry to help clients maximize their injury settlements. He has been featured in 40 Under 40 Connecticut Magazine and was chosen for the National Trial Lawyers Top 40 Under 40. Because of his dedication to community service and nonprofit work, he also received the 100 Men of Color Award in 2017.