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Can an Airbag Cause Chest Injuries?

  1. Can an Airbag Cause Chest Injuries?
  2. How Airbag Injuries to the Chest Happen
  3. Steps to Take After an Airbag Deployment Injury or Car Accident
  4. How a Katy Personal Injury Lawyer Can Work for You After a Car Accident
  5. If You Have Questions About Airbag Injuries to Your Chest, Give Us a Call

Can an Airbag Cause Chest Injuries?

Yes—airbags are an important safety feature, but they’re not without risk. It’s not uncommon for airbags to cause burns, cuts, and broken bones when they go off.

The good news is that airbags do save lives. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that frontal airbags saved more than 50,000 lives between 1987 and 2017.

How Airbag Injuries to the Chest Happen

To understand how an airbag can cause chest injuries, it helps to know how these devices work, and the role vehicles that predate 2007 play.

How Airbag Deployment Works

Without getting too technical about the process, a car loses speed very quickly when it hits something, and a specific part (an accelerometer) detects this sudden change in speed. If that change is too great—which is important because we don’t want airbags deploying simply because of normal braking—an electric current causes a heating element to ignite an explosive chemical.

As the chemical burns, a massive amount of harmless gas rushes into a nylon bag that is packed in the steering wheel. This happens rapidly, so the bag blows the plastic cover off the steering wheel as it inflates. Finally, the car’s momentum pushes the driver forward against the bag. Small holes along the airbag’s edges then allow the harmless gas to escape as it deflates.

However, airbags in cars from 2007 and earlier work a bit differently. They’re less sophisticated, use more force, and often cause more serious injuries when they deploy. Additionally, modern airbags are tested on more sizes of crash test dummies, seatbelt configurations, and crash speeds, making them more effective at protecting a wide range of drivers and passengers compared to earlier models.

That doesn’t mean modern airbags don’t ever harm people. Even though they’re less forceful than older models, airbags made after 2007 still require a tremendous amount of force to inflate, which can, and do, cause chest injuries and chest pain. And if the airbags are defective, the risk of serious injury increases. Common defects can include defective impact sensors or inflators, manufacturing defects, bad designs, incorrect repairs, and more.

Common Airbag Injuries

  • Chest injuries: Chest injuries can include burns, broken bones, rib fractures, chest pain, soft tissue damage, chest wall injury, internal injuries, and cardiac issues.
  • Eye injuries: When the force of an inflating airbag injures an eye, it can be damaged to the point of temporary or even permanent blindness.
  • Burn injuries: Abrasions and burns can be caused by the tremendous speed at which airbags inflate. In particular, the arms and face are vulnerable to these kinds of serious injuries.
  • Face and head injuries: Bones in our faces are relatively delicate and can be broken by inflating airbags. Included with that is the potential for permanent scarring. And head injuries aren’t always only superficial – concussions and traumatic brain injuries also can occur.

So, what do you need to do for insurance claims and personal injury cases when you sustain a serious injury or chest pain due to an airbag?

RELATED: Greater Katy Area Car Accident Attorneys

Steps to Take After an Airbag Deployment Injury or Car Accident

As we’ve stated, airbag injuries are serious. If you, or someone you love was injured by an airbag during a car accident, do your best to take these steps:

  1. Make sure you obtain an official police report of the accident. This document is key for successful personal injury cases and insurance claims. The information contained in the report can help verify your side of the story.
  2. After dealing with the police, get the medical attention you need. Some people wait to get medical treatment (even when they have chest pain), and insurance companies use that to deny claims. It creates the appearance that your injuries aren’t serious, even when they are. Also, make sure to keep all receipts for health care related to the accident.
  3. You’ll then need to file a claim with the insurance company. It is essential that you do not put this off. Notify them within 48 hours of the crash or risk having your claim denied.
  4. While talking with anyone from your insurance company, do not admit fault in the accident. But admitting fault is a common mistake, one that can keep you from getting the outcome you deserve. Sometimes, even saying “I’m sorry” is problematic.
  5. Something that can help is to prepare in advance. Think about what you are going to say to the claims adjuster about the accident and the injuries you sustained, including the role the airbag had in causing your chest pain.

Dealing with the insurance company is notoriously frustrating and complex. When you hire a personal injury attorney to handle the negotiations with the insurance company, you can focus on healing and getting your life back on track.

RELATED: How Long Do I Have to File a Personal Injury Claim in Texas?

“Will treats his clients with great kindness and compassion. He fully understands the pain and injustice each victim is going through. This compassion and understanding allows Will to prosecute your case to the fullest. Will is tenacious in pursuing what he feels is the correct settlement for his clients.”

- B & ES – Dallas, TX

“Will, Chris & Sarah. K and I just want to thank you so much for everything you’ve done for us and our family. Throughout this process you have kept us informed and been patient with us (especially me) as we navigated through unchartered territory. Putting things in your hands allowed Karl and I to focus on him getting better.”

- SC – Katy, TX

“Hi Will, I just wanted to take a minute and let you and your wonderful staff know just how much we appreciate each one of you! All of you have been so great to us. Y’all have always answered any and all questions immediately and never left us hanging or wondering about anything. All of you have made this.”

- SB – Katy, TX

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- AM – Houston, TX

"I wanted to thank you both for a job well done and for an outcome that far exceeded my expectations. I appreciated your expertise and your thoroughness of preparation, as well as keeping me informed of the possible outcomes at each major point.Will, I think that Chris did an excellent job and wanted to bring that to your attention."

- MJ – Katy, TX

How a Katy Personal Injury Lawyer Can Work for You After a Car Accident

If an airbag causes a severe chest injury, hiring an attorney can be a smart approach for getting the compensation you need to cover your medical bills, lost wages, compensate for your pain and suffering, and more, depending on the situation.

Skilled personal injury attorneys, like our team here at Will Adams Law Firm, work hard to support people with severe injuries after a car accident. For some folks, this means taking over the negotiations with an insurance company to make sure they do their part and provide the service you pay them to do.

When you receive a settlement offer, it can be a wise move to have us review it with you before you decide to accept (or decline). Our team has experience in negotiating with these companies and can help you understand if the offer is truly fair or not.

At other times—like when an insurance company is being unreasonable—you may want your lawyer to handle matters in a court of law. If this is the approach you choose to pursue, your legal team can collect and review evidence and create a strategic plan. We have successfully represented clients in situations that are similar to yours and offer you the same diligence and expertise.

RELATED: About Will Adams Law Firm

If You Have Questions About Airbag Injuries to Your Chest, Give Us a Call

Now that you understand it isn’t normal to have chest pain and injury from an airbag going off after a car accident, it is time to act.

Perhaps this means holding the insurance company to their word that they will fairly compensate you following a car accident. Our team can help you determine if any settlement offer is worth taking, or if it’s time to push back. And if it is, we’ll be right by your side.

When a severe chest injury requires legal intervention, we are also here for you. Even if you aren’t the suing type, someone may need to pay for medical care, lost wages, and other costs from your accident. If you decide this is the right approach, our team will work hard to ensure you receive fair compensation for your pain, suffering, and damages.

If you have any questions or would like to take advantage of a complimentary case evaluation with an open, honest personal injury lawyer, please feel free to reach out to us. Either call our office at (281) 371-6345 or contact us online and we’ll be in touch shortly.


Monkhouse, S. and Kelly, M. (2008, March 24). Airbag-related chest wall burn as a marker of underlying injury: a case report. Journal of Medical Case Reports. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2330057/

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (2019, April). Traffic Safety Facts. Washington, DC: NHTSA’s National Center for Statistics and Analysis. Retrieved from https://crashstats.nhtsa.dot.gov/Api/Public/ViewPublication/812691

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