Car accidents may occur in a moment, and airbags typically deploy automatically to prevent serious bodily injury or death. Despite their life-saving nature, airbags can cause serious injuries. Physical damage often depends on how fast an airbag deploys, how much force is needed to deploy an airbag, and whether the airbag is defective.

Learning more about what you can do to protect yourself and your loved ones can help you feel safer should you be involved in a car accident. If you have questions about seeking monetary compensation for your injuries, contact a West Palm Beach car accident lawyer at Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath today.

how fast does an airbag deploy

How fast an airbag deploys is a factor in serious injuries

Airbags are standard on motor vehicles. Multiple front and side airbags are often installed on newer models. However, airbags deploy with much force, inflating in 1/20th of a second. According to the Washington Post, airbags can deploy at rates of 200 mph. Drivers and passengers can be hit with up to 2,600 pounds of force, causing head and other injuries.

The Emergency Medicine Journal studied injuries caused by airbag deployment in the UK and the US. In their findings, they concluded that out of 618 injuries:

  • 42% consisted of facial injuries
  • 33% affected the upper limb
  • 9.6% of injuries were located around the chest

While airbags certainly save lives, they can also present a significant hazard in your vehicle. Some injuries can be life-changing.

Severe and debilitating injuries caused by airbag deployment

Facial injuries

Drivers and passengers can suffer severe bruising, fractures, and severe facial trauma due to the impact of the airbag. The eyes are highly susceptible to injury during airbag deployment. Some reports have shown orbital fractures, retinal detachment, and lens ruptures. If a driver or passenger wears sunglasses or eyeglasses, the force of the airbag deploying can cause the glasses to break and be pushed into the eye. In addition, deploying airbags can send a range of chemicals flying in the air, sometimes directly into the eye.

Head and neck

According to the study above, victims in the US have suffered severe temporomandibular joint injuries, cervical spine fractures, and decapitation. Tragically, airbags may hit children in such a way that they can sever the top of the spinal column.


The torso is especially vulnerable to fast airbag deployment. A person may sustain rib fractures, heart valve injuries, ruptures, and other internal damage.

Upper limb

In a crashing car, drivers and passengers may instinctively try to cover their faces or grip the steering wheel hard while the airbag deploys. The study shows people sustained injuries to their shoulder and forearm the most. In addition, fingers and wrists can suffer fractures and soft tissue damage.

Other injuries

While most of the injuries associated with the study center around soft tissue damage and fractures to the upper part of the body, there were a few reports of miscellaneous injuries, including burns, hearing damage, and premature ruptures to membranes in pregnancy.

Injuries in children

Due to the small stature of children, numerous reports indicate that airbag deployment can cause significant damage and an increased risk of death. Non-fatal injuries consisted of severe head and neck trauma.

The injuries caused by airbags often cause accident victims to experience financial insecurity, physical pain, and emotional unrest. Many accident victims must participate in physical therapy to heal from their injuries caused by airbag deployment. Contact our firm today if you or a loved one has been hurt in an accident due to an airbag.

Reach Out to Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath to schedule a free consultation.

We know how unexpected car accidents can be, and it is difficult to know what to do if your airbags cause you to suffer serious bodily injury. Call us today at (561) 655-1990 to learn more about what you can do to enforce your legal rights. Seeking legal representation can take time, but if you suffered bodily injuries, schedule a free consultation today to discuss the unique details of your case. You do not have to stand alone when you seek financial compensation for your injuries.

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