Why Do Airbags Cause Burns and Other Injuries

If you’ve been in a car accident and your airbag deployed, you may have noticed burns on your arms or other areas of your body that was exposed. Do you know why airbags cause burns?

Occupants of a vehicle in an accident suffer burns from the chemicals inside the airbags when it deploys. The bag can also cause friction burns when it strikes the driver or passengers

Airbags save lives, but they also cause damage to drivers and passengers. Since airbags have been in use, reports indicate certain types of injuries are more prevalent.

Airbag burns and other injuries

The development and use of airbags in automobiles have reduced the number of vehicular related deaths. However, there has been an increase in injuries associated with the deployment of the bag.

Burns associated with airbag deployment

Most burns caused by airbag deployment in a wreck are related to the release of the chemicals inside the bag. Airbags are typically filled with sodium azide, but sodium hydroxide is also used in some vehicles.

Chemical burns

When a car crash happens, an electrical charge is triggered, causing the sodium azide or sodium hydroxide to explode and convert to nitrogen gas inside the bag. Often the bag ruptures and the high-temperature gases burn the driver or passengers.

Sodium azide is a broad-spectrum biocide that is highly toxic to humans. Sodium hydroxide is caustic and can cause eye and skin burns and even loss of hair. Exposure to either chemical is dangerous, and you should seek medical attention. Here are links to the CDC on each of these chemicals:

Friction burns

An airbag deploys at a fantastic speed. For an airbag to adequately protect a driver from contact with the steering wheel, it must detect a collision, signal the airbag, and ignite the chemical to explode the bag.

This series of events happens in less than a blink of a human eye, approximately .016 of a second. The bag deploys at various speeds, some as high as 220 miles per hour.

Airbags contacting a driver’s skin at such high speed can cause significant friction burns and abrasions. Burns of the arms, face, and neck are common and have been widely reported.

Other injuries caused by airbags

Airbags are balloons housed in the steering wheel of most cars. They are designed to deploy when the vehicle is involved in a collision. The bag explodes out of its housing and impacts the driver.

The brunt of the force is taken by a driver’s chest and head. The most common injuries are bruises and abrasions, mainly to the face, neck, and arms.

Head and Neck injuries from airbag deployment

The most common injuries to a person’s head and neck caused by an airbag are facial traumas, TMJ, and cervical injuries. Airbags have been proven to reduce the number of severe head injuries; however, it has not eliminated them.

Because the face is taking the majority of the strike, eye injuries, such as corneal abrasions, are typical. In some cases, victims suffered from retinal detachments and orbital fractures.

The sound of the explosion from the airbag can cause ear damage, i.e., tinnitus (ringing in the ears) and hearing loss have all been reported.

Airbags have significantly lowered the severity of injuries to the heads of drivers and passengers in motor vehicle accidents; however, they’ve not reduced the number of head injuries. See the report here.

Injuries to the chest caused by an airbag deployment

Reports of harm to the chest are typical in airbag deployments, and some include rib fractures and even damage to the cardiovascular system.

Airbags do cause significant chest injuries. Chemical burns and blunt force chest injuries to a driver or passengers occur from the explosive force of airbags and associated chemicals. Chest wall injuries such as sternal fractures have been reported and should be evaluated.

Injuries to legs and arm caused by an airbag deployment

The most common damage to the victim’s limbs is to their shoulders and forearms. The injuries include fractures, burns, and dislocations. There is very little evidence of airbag causing harm to a victims’ legs.

If you’ve been injured in an automobile accident, contact our office to speak with an experienced attorney. We have offices in Hammond and Livingston, Louisiana. Call our offices at (225) 686-8006 or visit our website to send us an email.

  • To learn about whiplash, click here.

How Does a Car Accident Affect Your Insurance

You’ve just been in a car accident, and you feel like you have dodged a bullet because no one is seriously injured. However, your next thought is, will the accident affect my already high insurance rate?

If you are at fault for the accident, your insurance premium will increase, and even if the accident’s not your fault, your premium could increase. The determining factors include your driving record, claims history, and type of insurance policy you have.

Insurance companies are in business to make money. If you become a risk to their earnings potential, they raise your rates. Persons who make car accident claims are deemed high risk insured and pay higher premiums to offset the risks. Let look at the effects of car accidents on insurance in greater detail.

Does Your Insurance Go Up if Someone Hits You?

Just because you got hit by someone doesn’t automatically cause your insurance rates to go up. But if you file a claim against your insurance policy, then yes, it will likely increase. Ideally, the at-fault party has a valid insurance policy to cover your losses; if so, it’s unlikely your rates increase.

Raising rates for not-at-fault accidents varies by company, some raise your rates, and some apply a surcharge, and others may not raise rates, especially if it’s your only claim within the last three years.

Why might you need to file a claim with your own insurance company when you are not at fault for the accident? If the at-fault driver doesn’t have insurance, doesn’t have sufficient coverage, or flees the scene of a crash, you may have to file a claim with your insurance to recover your losses from the accident.

Filing a claim, regardless of fault, raises the possibility that your premium could rise. However, if it’s your first accident and you have a good driving history, without moving violations and no prior insurance claims, your insurance may not increase at all.

If your insurance company increases your rates for a first time filing of a not-at-fault claim, it may be wise to start looking for a new carrier. When choosing a new company, ask if they surcharge for a not-at-fault accident.

How Long After a Car Accident, does it Affect your Insurance?

Accident claims typically affect your insurance for three years. How it affects your insurance varies by company. Some will raise your rates a set amount over the next three years, while other companies raise your rate initially then gradually decrease it over three years.

To ensure your rates return to its initial levels, you need to avoid tickets and accidents. Also, contact your local DMV and review your driving record to confirm its accuracy.

It is not uncommon for citations or accidents to be erroneously included in government records. If you are a victim of DMV errors, contact their office to have the information removed from your driving record and update your insurance company.

How far back do insurance companies look for accidents?

Your driving history is the critical factor used by insurance companies to determine your insurance rates. Most insurance companies review your last five years of driving records, looking for traffic violations, accidents, and vehicular crimes, like DUI. Expect higher rates if you have had speeding tickets, reckless-driving convictions, and accidents.

How much does insurance go up after an accident?

At-fault insurance claims will raise your insurance rate. How high is goes depends on the amount of damage, and if a bodily injury claim is involved. The average rate increase across the United States for an at-fault accident with over $2,000 in property damage is $450 per year or an average increase of 31 percent.

This average was calculated using a first-time at-fault claim. If you have had multiple prior applications or have moving violation tickets, the increase will likely be higher.

To determine the amount of increase, insurance companies use a surcharge schedule. Some states place limits on what can be surcharged and regulate the surcharge schedule.

Can I cancel my car insurance after an accident?

Yes, you can cancel your insurance after an accident, and in some instances, it is a prudent decision. If your car is repairable after the accident, you shouldn’t continue to pay insurance.

Before canceling your insurance, contact your states’ Department of Motor Vehicle to ensure you are following the proper procedures. You can be fined in some states for not have insurance on a vehicle registered in your name.

What happens if I don’t tell my insurance company about an accident?

Not reporting an accident to your insurance company could result in their refusal to cover the damages you discover later. In some states, you have a legal duty to report all accidents to your insurer.

You may also have a contractual obligation with your insurer to report all accidents, and failure to abide by the terms in the contract could result in the termination of your insurance policy.

It is best to report all accidents to your insurance company as soon as you can. Some accidents may seem minor at the time but later reveal serious severe damage. It is best to have a record of the accident than to be stuck with losses.

Do I Have to Talk to the Other Driver’s Car Insurance Company After an Accident?

No, you are under no obligation to speak to the other driver’s car insurance representative. If you have been involved in a major accident, you could damage your claim by speaking with an insurance adjuster.

The insurance companies are in the business to save money, and they have very well trained people to help them achieve this goal. They know how to converse in a friendly manner to draw out information from the unsuspecting.

If an adjuster calls, the best idea is not to take the call and talk to an attorney. The attorney will notify the insurance company to refrain from contacting you directly and will take control of the situation.

If you elect to speak to the other driver’s insurance representative, be aware that they will record the conversation and could be used against you at a later date. If your claim ends up in litigation, the recorded interview can be used during your cross-examination.

If you were involved in a severe accident or liability is an issue, don’t talk to the other driver’s insurance company. However, if the accident was minor and the other drivers’ responsibility is established, you may want to speak to the adjuster to get the matter settled fast.

If you’ve been injured in a car accident, call our office, The Law Offices of Sonja Bradley, to speak to an experienced attorney. We have offices in Hammond and Livingston Louisiana.

Can I Have Delayed Onset of Back Pain from a Car Accident?

You had a car accident and didn’t feel much pain at the scene. But in the days and weeks following the accident, your back begins to hurt. Is the back pain from the car wreck? Can a person have delayed onset of back pain from a car accident?

Yes, it’s common for victims of car accidents to have delayed injury-related pain after a car wreck. The back pain could be a severe injury and not realized at the time of the collision.

Even collisions resulting in minor damage to your vehicle can cause serious injury. We are all individuals and our bodies react differently to injury and pain. Some people may feel pain immediately, and others not.

How Long does it take for a Back Injury to Show Up?

The length of time a back injury causes an individual back pain varies based on the person and type of injury. Victims of car accidents are excited, and their adrenaline is flowing, masking pain.

Most people at the scene are concerned about superficial cuts and bruises; otherwise, they are happy they walked after the accident. It isn’t until they go home and try to relax that they begin to feel the pain caused by the wreck.

Often a person will wake up the next day stiff and sore in parts of their body that felt normal when they went to sleep. Even more often, the pain is not noticeable until days following an accident.

The time-lapse between the collision to the feeling of pain often happens in injuries to the spine. The gap in time is due to the complex nature of the spinal structure.

Sometime pain may not become evident for days or weeks after the wreck. The spine is the most frequent area affected in an auto collision, more specifically the back and neck.

How Long Does Back Pain Last After a Car Accident?

The severity of your injury determines the length of time back pain lasts. In most cases of muscle strains, soft tissue damage, and bruises should heal with six weeks of the accident.

The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke conducted a study of whiplash victims and found their rate of recovery from soft tissue injury to be within three months.

The length of time a person suffers back pain depends on the seriousness of the damage caused to the spine. Some people experience back pain a year or longer, even for the rest of their lives.

An MRI or CT scan of your spine will be able to determine the source of your back pain and help determine the length of time you could suffer in pain.

How do I Know if My Back Injury is Serious?

Most cases of back pain are the result of soft tissue damage often referred to as strains or sprains. Strains and sprains happen when a person’s muscle or ligaments tear or overstretch. These can resolve over time but should be examined by a physician.

Symptoms of back sprains or strains include tenderness, swelling, and muscle spasms. These can resolve with the passage of time, but it is prudent to schedule an examination with a physician.

However, the following symptoms are indicators that require you to see a physician:

  • severe lower back pain
  • bowel and bladder problems
  • numbness, weakness, or loss of sensation in one or both legs
  • difficulty walking tingling and numbness that radiates down the legs.
  • prolonged back pain

The symptoms described above are indicative of a serious problem with the spinal structure, possibly a herniated disc pressing on a nerve root. It could also be vertebrae damage or ligament.

If you have any prolonged back pain schedule an appoint to see a spine specialist. It is best to see a doctor as early as possible for treatment to avoid any permanent damage.

Why does my Lower Back Hurt After a Car Accident?

Your lower back mostly likely is causing you pain because you suffered either a muscle sprain strain or have discogenic pain. Discogenic pain originates from damage to a vertebral disc.

The most common causes of discogenic pain are lumbar sprains, spinal stenosis, disc herniation, and degenerative spinal diseases.

Lumbar Sprains

Sprains in the lumbar region are the result of overstretching of the ligaments, muscles, and tendons in the back caused by trauma. Strains and sprains typically can’t be diagnosed by imaging and instead rely on doctor experience and patient consultation to determine the diagnosis.

Spinal Stenosis

Spinal stenosis refers to a narrowing of the channel housing the spinal nerves and spinal cord. Spinal stenosis happens in the natural course of aging; however, it can be caused by trauma such as a car accident.

Trauma can rupture disc or bone fragment and invade the spinal canal space, applying pressure to the nerves or cord, resulting in pain.

Disc Herniation 

The spine has a cushion-like disc between vertebrae, the vertebral disc is filled with a soft material. When the material protrudes out of the disc, it’s referred to as a disc herniation. The protruding material often contacts the surrounding nerves causing pain.

Degenerative Spinal Diseases

Degenerative disc disorders is a general term used to describe many different injuries and symptoms related to the break down of the spine or its parts as the body ages.

How Long After a Car Accident Can You Claim Injury?

If you have been involved in a car accident, there is a time limit within which you must file a personal injury and property damage claim. Unfortunately, each state has its own time limit. So be sure to check the time limit in the state you had your accident.

If you were hurt because of another’s negligence, then you are entitled to receive compensation for your losses and pain and suffering.

Time Limit to File a Personal Injury Claim in Louisiana

Louisiana has a brief window of time to file a personal injury claim, one year. Your legal claim for damages must be recorded in the court within one year of the date of the car wreck. The one-year limitation includes a claim for property damage as well. The time limit begins on the day of the crash.

The time limit to bring a suit is based on Louisiana Civil Code Article 3492, which states: “Delictual actions are subject to a liberative prescription of one year. This prescription commences to run from the day injury or damage is sustained.”

Article 3492 codifies that any lawsuit for injury or property damage must be filed within one year, which includes any claim for injury or vehicle damage by a driver, passenger, pedestrian, motorcyclist, or bicyclist after a traffic accident.

If you’ve been involved in a car accident and sustained injury contact Sonja Bradley, in Hammond Louisiana, or Livingston Louisiana.