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Airbag Injuries Resulting From Automobile Accidents

Written by Jared Staver

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Jared Staver is a Personal Injury Lawyer based in Chicago, Illinois and has been practicing law for over 20 years.

Jared Staver

CATEGORY: Auto Accidents, Personal Injury, Product Liability


Airbags were invented in the 1950s and eventually became a federally mandated safety feature in all vehicles. The first design was patented by John H. Hetrick in 1953. He created the “inflatable safety cushion” after he, his wife, and his daughter were in an accident. Walter Linderer also patented a design for an early airbag in 1953. Both men filed for patents in 1951, Hetrick in the U.S. and Linderer in Germany.

It took more than another decade before car manufacturers improved upon the initial prototypes, which needed to inflate incredibly quickly. The car makers also understood that secondary injuries from airbags were possible and worked to mitigate this harm.

By the 1970s, manufacturers began to add passenger airbags. By the 1990s, airbags were becoming standard in all vehicles, and side airbags began to be installed in some cars.

How Airbags Help

Front airbags stop a driver or passenger from colliding with the steering wheel, dashboard, or windshield. Side airbags reduce the likelihood of injury from a driver or passenger colliding with a door or window. They mainly prevent head injuries.

People obviously hit the airbag, but this is much softer and less likely to cause severe injury than other parts of a vehicle. More recent inventions have even improved the airbag’s cushion, reducing potential harms.

According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, airbags significantly reduce deaths and injuries in car accidents. Thousands of people’s lives are saved every year because of this invention.

Common Airbag Injuries

Despite how important airbags are to driver and passenger safety, they aren’t perfect. People can still get hurt from airbags when they’re in a car accident.

  • Burns: Chemical compounds are used to allow an airbag to deploy quickly on impact. These chemicals can cause burns or skin irritations most commonly found on the arms, chest, and face.
  • Bruising: Airbags deploy with significant force, which can cause bruising on people’s arms, upper body, and face.
  • Abrasions: Airbags are made of a light fabric but can be rough. With the force of deployment, it can cause cuts and scrapes.
  • Broken nose: Many people collide with an airbag at a significant speed, which can cause them to break their nose.
  • Eye injuries: Drivers or passengers can get hit in the eye by a front or side airbag causing sight damage.
  • Broken ribs: The airbag often hits people in the abdomen and chest, which can fracture their ribs.

While airbags are rarely fatal to adults, they can be extremely dangerous for children. Airbags are designed to help fully grown adults and are too powerful for children or infants. Children should sit in the back of a vehicle with their seat belts fastened, or if they are still small, in a secured child safety seat. If children need to sit where there is a front airbag, they should sit as far back as possible to avoid colliding with the airbag. If there is a side airbag, children should not lean or sleep against the door.

Call a Chicago Personal Injury Attorney

If you were hurt in a car accident because of an airbag, contact our injury attorneys in Chicago right away. If your injuries were from a defective or malfunctioning airbag, you may have a case against the manufacturer.

Call Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. at to learn more.

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(312) 236-2900
(312) 236-2900
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