Tennessee Air Bag Injury Lawyer

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, frontal air bags saved 39,976 lives between 1987 and 2012. Air bags also greatly reduce the risk of serious injury; however, they’ve been known to cause injuries, too.

If you’ve suffered an air bag-related injury, call the law office of John R. Colvin to request a free case consultation: 1-931-962-1044.

Faulty Air Bags

As of July 2017, faulty inflator and propellant components had been blamed for more than 180 injuries and 12 deaths in the United States. These incidents prompted a massive recall among at least a dozen automakers that had installed the potentially defective air bags in about 42 million vehicles. Takata, the air bag manufacturer, agreed in February 2017 to a fine of $1 billion. The U.S. Justice Department also charged Takata with one count of wire fraud, for concealing the defect, and the company pleaded guilty to that charge.

The defect in the air bag inflators causes them to rupture, sending metal shrapnel into the interior of the vehicle. The bag may also deploy unexpectedly, such as during a minor “fender-bender.”

The NHTSA announced in July that Honda confirmed a Takata airbag had ruptured in a fatal crash that month in Florida. But Honda did not say whether the rupture was the cause of the fatality. If so, it would be the 13th death in the United States attributed to an air bag rupture. All deaths in the U.S. attributed to Takata inflators have occurred in Honda vehicles.

Because the Takata recall has expanded repeatedly, the NHTSA urges motorists to check the recall website to determine whether their vehicle is included in the recall. If it is, car dealerships will replace the air bag inflator at no charge. This repair should be performed only at a new-car dealership, as the NHTSA has found that some non-dealership repair shops have installed counterfeit air bags that are known to consistently malfunction.

Other Injuries

Even when air bags function properly, they can still cause injuries. During deployment, air bags release hot chemicals and gases that can cause chemical and thermal burns or skin lesions. The force of the air bag deployment can also damage eyes and fracture facial bones. Other more serious injuries – broken ribs, broken sternums, and spinal contusions – have been observed in children and older people with osteoporosis.

Air bags release a fine alkaline aerosol that can cause deep tissue burns if it comes into contact with bodily fluid, such as sweat. It also cause serious eye trauma, as the eyes are naturally covered in a thin coat of tears.

Side Air Bag Injuries

Side air bags reduce the risk of injury and death for drivers involved in driver’s-side impact crashes. An Australian study noted that side air bags offered a 61 percent reduction in the risk of upper body injury or death. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety had previously found that side air bags reduce the risk of death in a side impact by 37 percent for standard cars and 52 percent for SUVs.

Despite the fact that side air bags save lives, they also raise the risk of injuries to the ears. The Michigan Ear Institute conducted a study people who suffered ear injuries in a crash, due to side air bag deployment. In its sample of 20 people who had suffered ear injuries, it found:

  • 17 people complained of hearing and tinnitus (ringing in the ears).
  • 10 people had experienced dizziness; 4 of those 10 had chronic dizziness that was not relieved through medical treatment.
  • 4 people had a perforated tympanic membrane (eardrum) that had to be surgically repaired (this study was the first in which doctors identified this injury as a risk of side air bag deployment).
  • 3 people had developed ear pain caused by temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ); none of them had this painful jaw disorder before their motor vehicle accident.

The researchers concluded that side air bags may increase the risk of ear injuries (specifically, perforated eardrums) and that previous theories about air bag-related hearing loss being temporary may be inaccurate.

Advocating for Injury Victims

Statistically, drivers have very little risk of suffering a serious or fatal air bag-related injury. But if such an injury should occur, the victim and victim’s family may face overwhelming medical costs, as well as lost wages and permanent disability.

John R. Colvin is a trusted advocate for people in Tennessee and Alabama who need help with their personal injury case. If you’ve suffered an air bag-related injury, contact us online, or at 1-931-962-1044, to request your no-obligation consultation.

Licensed to Practice in Tennessee & Alabama