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.

Can I Sue A Trucking Company Without A Lawyer?

Yes, an individual in Louisiana can file a civil lawsuit in federal or state court without an attorney. Civil actions filed without an attorney in federal courts are referred to as proceeding “Pro Se.” You can click on the link here to access helpful federal civil filing forms.

While the option to represent yourself may seem like a good idea, trucking accidents are very complex. Trucking companies and their insurance companies have experienced attorneys representing them.

These attorneys’ job is to save their clients money, and they use every legal trick to avoid paying accident victims for the damages suffered through their clients’ negligence.

Let’s look at some things you need to consider when going against a big rig company.

Theories of Liability

Driver Error

Employers are responsible for the negligent acts of their employees under the doctrine of vicarious liability. In Louisiana, vicarious liability is established in Civil Code article 2320 by the theory of respondeat superior.

Article 2320 states, “Masters and employers are answerable for the damage occasioned by their servants and overseers, in the exercise of the functions in which they are employed.” Truck drivers typically work for a company.

Companies often hire drivers and categorize them as independent contractors. Specific rules must be followed for a driver to be an independent contractor, regardless of how the company characterizes his employment status. Employment status is an issue that must be diligently examined.

Driver Violations

Federal law restricts the hours a driver can drive a commercial truck per day. The government also has established rest intervals between trips. Drivers and their employers make more money when transporting goods than when resting.

To make more money, they often try to get around the resting mandates, and this often results in accidents. When a driver is on the road too long, he becomes fatigued, sleepy and inattentive.

All commercial drivers maintain a logbook, and you must examine this along with any tracking devices on the truck. You can obtain the information through discovery. It is also necessary to check the numbers and dates for accuracy.

You can often find discrepancies in logbooks when compared to the tracking information and maps. Companies are responsible for the proper training of their employees, and in monitoring their trips for any apparent violations

Hiring Practices

It is critical to know the driving history of the driver who caused the accident. If the driver has a history of accidents, DUI’s, or reckless driving violations, he shouldn’t have been behind the wheel of a big truck.

Trucking companies are responsible for who they hire. Hiring a driver with a bad driving record is negligent, and they should be liable. Also, if the company relied on an outside source to screen drivers, they may be responsible.

Once a driver is hired, the employer must monitor his current driving record. A company is negligent if they allow their driver to continue driving if he has failed drug screens or alcohol screens, caused numerous accidents, or received traffic violations for reckless driving


Mechanical failure can cause accidents. In a case involving mechanical failure, the maintenance records must be examined. Federal law requires trucking companies to keep detailed maintenance logs. Failure to have proper maintenance records or failure to provide proper service is violations and a step in proving negligence.


All cargo must be properly secured for travel on the roadways. If the load shifted during transportation because it was not secured and was a factor in causing the accident, the company is negligent.

Parties that may be liable in a Trucking Accident

Truckers are responsible for their negligent acts, and the trucking companies are responsible for the negligence of their employees’ negligence and the safety of their trucks. But often, other parties bear some responsibility for the damages you have suffered.

Truck driver

A trucker has a responsibility to check his rig for proper loading and maintenance. If the accident was caused by something he should have noticed during an inspection, he could be found negligent.

If an accident occurred because of speeding, fatigue, alcohol, or distracted driving of the trucker, he is liable for his negligence.

Trucking Company

The trucking company, also called a “carrier” is responsible for its drivers and trucks on the roads.

Trailer owner, Cargo shipper, and loader

In the trucking industry, it is common for carriers to work as contractors for other trucking and cargo companies. In these instances, there are multiple layers, and all have a responsibility to follow safety regulations and act prudently.

Violations of acceptable standards or regulations by the other trucking or cargo companies could result in liability for your damages. All their records need to be examined thoroughly. If a trucking company is pulling a trailer owned by another company, the trailer records need to review. Failure to properly maintain trailers often leads to accidents.


Big trucking companies hire vendors to perform work, such as running background checks on drivers. Your accident may be caused by a failure to perform a duty a vendor had the responsibility to conduct, and this would make them responsible for your damages. Third-party vendor’s involvement must be looked at to determine if they have liability for causing the accident.


Manufacturers make parts that fail, either by an unsafe design or in construction. If a manufacturer was negligent, then they are responsible for the damages you suffered and will be a party to the lawsuit. Faulty product design or manufacturing could be a product liability case.

Government agencies

Unsafe roadways cause many accidents in Louisiana. If the road was a contributing factor to the wreck, the local or state government might be held accountable.

The contractor hired by the government to work on a section of the road could also be found negligent. The contractor is negligent if his work was shoddy or didn’t comply with acceptable standards, and the substandard work contributed to causing the accident.

Involved in an Accident with a Semi-Truck? Call Sonja Bradley Today

Accidents involving trucking companies are difficult to pursue without an attorney. The Law Offices of Sonja Bradley has the experience and resources necessary to thoroughly investigate a truck accident and bring a claim against all parties responsible for your losses.

Before you agree to settle your claim with an insurance company or lawyers for a trucking company, schedule a meeting with our office, we will provide a review for no charge.

Motorcycle Accidents In Louisiana: What You Need To Know.

South Louisiana has a high amount of motorcycle accidents. Are the accident caused by road conditions, unsafe drivers, or is that motorcycles are inherently dangerous?

The rate of automobile accidents and motorcycle accidents are about the same. However, people involved in motorcycle accidents die or sustain severe injuries at a significantly higher rate than people in car accidents.

Motorcycle riders like the freedom of the road, but it the pleasure worth the risks? Compared to cars, motorcycles make up a small percentage of road travel, is this because of the perceived dangers of motorcycle accidents? There is a lot of concerning information about motorcycle riding in the United States.

Is Riding a Motorcycle Dangerous?

It goes without argument that motorcycles are inherently more dangerous than cars. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), provides that motorcycles made up only 3 percent of vehicles registered in the United States in 2017.

However, the fatality rate for motorcyclists in 2017 was six times the death rate for passengers of cars. Fatalities on motorcyclist occurred nearly 27 times more frequently than passengers in cars in traffic crashes.

A look at 2017 numbers shows there were 5,172 motorcyclists killed, a three percent decrease from the previous year. Let’s look at some of the key findings in the NHTSA report:

  • Twenty-nine percent of motorcycle fatality crashes in 2017 were riding without valid motorcycle licenses;
  • Impaired drivers by vehicle type (27% for motorcycles, 21% for passenger cars, 20% for light trucks, and 3% for large trucks);
  • Forty-three percent of motorcycle riders who lost their lives in single-vehicle crashes in 2017 were alcohol-impaired
  • Motorcycle riders killed in crashes at night were three times more frequently alcohol-impaired than those killed during the day in 2017
  • NHTSA estimates that helmets saved 1,872 motorcyclists’ lives in 2017 and that 749 more people could’ve have been saved if all motorcyclists had worn helmets.
  • In States without universal helmet laws, 57 percent of motorcyclists killed in 2017 weren’t wearing helmets and only eight percent in States with universal helmet laws

These numbers illustrate the dangers of riding motorcycles on the road. I encourage you to check the NHTSA website to view the most current numbers.

What is the Most Common Cause of Motorcycle Accidents?

Cars have to share the road with motorcycles. However, they frequently seem to forget, but there are many causes by motorcycle drivers that could be prevented. The following is a list of some causes of motorcycle accidents:

  • Speeding: Speeding is dangerous in any vehicle, but more so on a motorcycle. Speed limits establish a safe rate of travel on a particular roadway. It takes into consideration reaction times, curves, and general road conditions. Death in a crash is more likely to occur at a higher rate of speed;
  • Driving under the influence. The number of fatal motorcycle crashes illustrated in the NHTSA numbers proves that motorcycle drivers influenced by drugs or alcohol are at increased risk of an accident;
  • Lane splitting is the maneuvering of a motorcycle between vehicles on a roadway. Lane splitting causes a substantial amount of accidents, cars are often not aware of a motorcycle and will unexpectedly shift lanes hitting the bike;
  • Sudden stops: A vehicle that stops quickly creates a dangerous condition. Tailgating results in rear-end accidents. When riding a motorcycle, always follow a safe distance behind traffic. A sudden stop could result in severe injury or death to a motorcyclist;
  • Inexperienced drivers:  Inexperienced motorcyclists likely are also unsafe drivers. They lack the experience to avoid wrecks and create dangerous conditions not only to themselves but other motorists as well;
  • Left-turn accidents: Misjudgments of distance while making a left turn are causes of injury and death to motorcycle riders.
  • Dangerous road conditions: Driving a motorcycle on broken concrete or roads with potholes, and debris, causes bikers to lose control of their motorcycle and crash;
  • Motorcycle defects: Motorcycle manufacturer just like with any other product sometimes have a poor design or faulty part which creates a condition that leads to an accident.

If You Ride Reduce the Risks of an Accident.

The first thing you should realize when riding a motorcycle, you are in a vulnerable position, so be alert and be visible. Some other steps you can take are:

  • Wear a helmet: Helmets save lives. NHTSA estimates helmets saved 1,872 motorcyclists’ lives in 2017 and that 749 more lives would’ve been saved if all motorcyclists wore helmets. Nineteen states require motorcyclists to wear helmets, while three states-Illinois, Iowa and New Hampshire-have no helmet use laws at all.
  • Older riders: If you are over 40, you may need to consider getting off your motorcycle. Motorcycling requires more brain function and focus than driving a car. 54% of motorcyclists killed in crashes were age 40 or older, and older riders sustain more severe injuries from accidents. Why does this occur? It could be declining vision and reduced reaction time in older riders or fragility.
  • Anti-lock brakes (ABS): Anti-lock brakes provide a better and safer stop for a motorcycle. Motorcycles with ABS are 37% less likely to be involved in a fatal crash.
  • Avoid cafe-style racing motorcycles: Cafe-style motorcycles require unique skill sets and can go fast. Motorcyclists on cafe-style bikes are four times more likely to die in a crash than riders of other styles of motorcycles.
  • Training: Most states offer motorcycle safety classes. The classes teach how to maneuver a motorcycle in different weather conditions and during specific traffic conditions.
  • Clothing: Wear protective clothing that is visible. Leather helps to prevent road rash. The brighter you are, the easier for others to see you.

Louisiana State Police Motorcycle Safety Program

Louisiana has an unusually high motorcycle accident rate. The high instances of wrecks could be caused by several reasons, poor road conditions, inattentive drivers, or lack of motorcycle driver training. The state police are taking steps to reduce motorcycle accidents.

The Louisiana State Police established a program designed to save motorcyclist lives. It is the Louisiana Motorcycle Safety, Awareness and Operator Training Program.

The basic course is 15 hours and its designed for beginners. It teaches the physical skills, proper attitude, and knowledge for navigating safely in traffic. It is an excellent program if you are interested or want more information click the link above to register.

Do I Need A Motorcycle Lawyer?

If you or someone you know has been in a motorcycle accident, you need to contact an attorney. Injured parties are entitled to recover for their losses, pain and suffering, medical expenses, lost wages, and any other damages they suffered.

One of the risks you shouldn’t face is going without the compensation you are owed. Sonja Bradley has offices in Hammond and Livingston Louisiana

To read about “Important Steps to Take if You’ve Neen in a Car Accident,” or learn about “Negligence Law in Louisiana,” click the highlighted links.