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3 Common Airbag Injuries that Occur During Car Accidents

Read Time: 6 Minutes

Airbags are one of the most critical vehicular inventions of the last century. Since 1999, airbag laws have required front airbags on all vehicles and optional side airbags. Manufacturers generally install side airbags to ensure the safety of all passengers. Even though the intention is to protect travelers within the vehicle, airbags often can lead to injuries after an accident.

Overview of Airbags and Why They Are Important

Airbags are supposed to protect drivers and passengers from hitting the vehicle's interior or shelter occupants from potential projectiles. For example, trees, cars, fences, or light posts may have parts fly through the window, and airbags should provide a barrier between those things and travelers.

Sensors on the car measure the severity of the impact. Airbags are filled with gas and will deploy in a fraction of a second if the sensors determine the crash is intense enough. Airbags may deploy at speeds between 10-12 miles per hour (mph) if passengers are not wearing seatbelts, but often the sensitivity is lower for crashes when occupants are buckled in. Airbags reduced frontal crash fatalities of the driver by 29% and passengers older than 13 by 32%.

Frontal Protection

Front airbags are required by law. As a result, manufacturers install them in the steering wheel for drivers and the dashboard for passengers. Vehicle sensors detect if occupants are wearing seatbelts and determine if airbags should deploy in combination with the vehicle's speed and intensity of the crash. Wearing a seatbelt while having the frontal airbags deployed reduces fatality rates by 61%.

Side Protection

Side airbags are installed near the chest and head levels to protect commuters from side-impact crashes. Preventing injury from the vehicle's frame, the other car, or shattering glass is the primary goal of side airbags. The airbags may form the only protection for the head from an oncoming vehicle. Within milliseconds, side airbags deploy to save occupants from a collision with speeds as low as 8 mph. Since 2014, almost all manufacturers have equipped their cars with them.

Rollover Protection

Rollover airbags have been required since 2018 to prevent occupant ejection. With sensors detecting sideway and tilting movement, airbag deployment occurs within milliseconds to save all riders. One unique feature about rollover airbags is that they stay inflated much longer in multiple rollovers.

Airbag Replacement

Should someone replace the airbags for any reason, only original equipment manufacturer (OEM) parts may be used to ensure safety. Airbag sensor systems are highly complex, and counterfeit airbags may provide problems. If OEM parts are not installed, the system may not recognize airbags leading to incorrect calibration and potential deployment failure.

What Makes Airbags Deploy & How Can They Injure You

Cars are equipped with multiple sensors and activate when involved in a moderate to a severe accident, occasionally activating on minor, less severe mishaps. Signals measure everything ranging from speed to pressure of breaking and stopping suddenly. These sensors also measure wheel speed, seatbelt detection, and passenger weight, which communicate with safety features in the vehicle. These safety features, such as airbag deployment, seat belt lock, and automatic door locks, activate if a crash occurs to protect travelers in the vehicle.

Once a crash is detected, sensors signal the inflator to fill the airbag with nitrogen gas. As the fabric airbags fill rapidly, they expand through the car's parts (steering wheel, dashboard, or other location), causing them to deploy fully. This happens within milliseconds to protect occupants against internal and external factors like glass, other vehicles, or the dashboard. Airbags will deflate on their own. Due to the speed of the airbag filling with gas, it is not uncommon for injuries to transpire.

Common Injuries That Occur & How Chiropractic Care Can Help

Upon detection of an accident, the airbags will fill rapidly with nitrogen gas. The speed of inflation may cause injuries ranging from eyes to face to upper extremity injuries. Trauma from airbags may be minor or fatal.

Facial Injuries

Eye injuries are the most common type of airbag-related injuries. Reports state that some ocular damage could have been prevented had the airbag not been deployed. However, it often causes the occupant to hit the airbag with such an impact that causes damage to the inner eye, such as vitreous hemorrhage and retinal detachment. Other common eye injuries include abrasions on the eyelid and bilateral lens dislocation. Objects may also cause trauma to the eye due to the blunt force of the airbag, such as eyeglasses, electronic devices, or even water bottles. The impact from these objects may cause pain in patients. A car accident injury chiropractor will determine how to help your facial injuries and work to create a customized recovery plan.

Upper Extremity Injuries

Upper extremity injuries are caused by high and low-speed crashes involving airbags. Trauma to the upper extremities includes head injuries, minor bruises, abrasions, lacerations, severe fractures, and dislocations. Reports have also indicated chemical burns from airbags deploying because of the nitrogen gas. With hands and wrists being on the steering wheel, dislocation, strains, or fractures may occur. A car accident chiropractor can assess your needs and create a personalized plan to help ease your discomfort. With techniques ranging from massage therapy to electric stimulation, our office will work to find the best solution for your injuries.

Whiplash

Whiplash refers to the injury caused by a head jolting forwards and jerking back. Whiplash is a common injury involving crashes and can lead to long-term effects if left untreated. Sometimes whiplash is unrecognized for a few hours or days post-accident, which can prompt patients to self-heal. Receiving medical treatment for whiplash is essential to recovering, rebuilding muscles, and improving mobility. If you are experiencing pain, tenderness, headaches, fatigue, memory problems, or blurry vision after an accident, you could be experiencing whiplash.

ChiroCare of Florida offers whiplash treatment for your after-accident recovery. If neck pain is experienced post-accident, it is crucial to evaluate any potential damage. The severity of the whiplash determines how long you will feel discomfort, but typically within three months from the start of symptoms; whiplash heals itself. We recommend seeking an evaluation and treatment to prevent long-term effects despite healing itself.

Chiropractic Care

A car accident injury chiropractor should be your first visit following a vehicle crash. Even without seeing the crash's immediate effects, you may feel pain, scratches, or discolorations following the incident. Your adrenaline may prevent other signs of injury until the next day as bodies tend to go in shock after a car crash.

Following a vehicle crash, you may be entitled to medical benefits up to $10,000. ChiroCare of Florida can work with you to determine entitled benefits, even if you were at fault or partly at fault. Florida has a 14-day rule for reporting injuries, which can impact your injury protection (PIP) claim. Florida states anyone filing a PIP claim must receive medical care, such as an auto accident chiropractor, within those 14 days. ChiroCare of Florida can also serve as a medical witness for your PIP claim. We recommend you seek treatment before speaking to an attorney or insurance company, regardless of how minor or significant the accident was.

ChiroCare of Florida will create a custom rehabilitation plan for you, including reducing your pain. A car accident chiropractor will find the best solution for you, from exercises to massage. Our goal is to help you recover as quickly as possible with the best quality service.

Contact ChiroCare of Florida today to set up your first consultation at (877) 216-6206.

About the Author:
Dr. Steven Schwartz
Raised in Coral Springs, Florida, Dr. Steven Schwartz is a major advocate for the South Florida community. CEO of ChiroCare of Florida, Dr. Schwartz has grown the group from one facility to 11. Whether he’s treating patients or volunteering for community service, Dr. Schwartz’s long-term goal is to ensure that each and every patient can experience the ChiroCare of Florida difference.
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