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Can an Airbag Cause Injuries in a Car Accident? 5 Factors

deployed airbags

Airbags are one of the most common and effective safety mechanisms in any vehicle, saving hundreds of lives annually. However, they expand so quickly after an accident that many people wonder if they can cause an injury. The short answer is yes. Keep reading as we look at what kind of injuries can occur from the airbag and who is most susceptible, to help you be better informed.

car and road divider

The 5 Ways an Airbag Can Cause an Injury

1. Small Body

If your body is too small to withstand the force of the airbag as it expands, you may suffer an injury. Children’s bodies are the most vulnerable, but many adults also have small frames that can be easily injured when the airbag expands.

deployed airbag
Photo Credit By: Pixabay

2. Improper Deployment

Airbags use sensors to determine when an accident is occurring. If the sensor malfunctions, it can cause the airbag to go off prematurely, causing an injury to the unexpecting driver.

3. Non-deployment

Another problem often related to the sensor that can cause an injury is when the airbag fails to go off in an accident. If the airbag doesn’t deploy, the driver’s body can hit the steering wheel or other areas of the vehicle, which can cause an injury.

4. Late Deployment

The airbag in your vehicle works on split-second timing. In many cases, the seriousness of an injury can come down to a fraction of a second, so having your airbag deploy on time is critical.

Photo Credit By: Pixel-mixer, Pixabay

5. Exploding Airbags

If a qualified technician doesn’t install the airbag, there’s a chance that it can malfunction on deployment. The exploding air can result in shrapnel causing more injury than it prevents.

car and road divider

How Does My Airbag Work?

How it works:
  • Your vehicle uses a sensor, commonly installed in the front bumper, to detect when an accident occurs.
  • When the sensor detects an accident, it will begin to fill the airbag with argon or nitrogen gas.
  • The gas fills the bag in about 1/20th of a second to prevent you from hitting the steering wheel or another hard surface in time.
  • After the bag fills, it deflates so you are not trapped in the vehicle.

What Kind of Injuries Are Possible?

  • Facial bruises
  • Injuries to the hands and arms, including sprains and broken bones
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Damage to the internal organs, including internal bleeding
  • Broken ribs
  • Hearing loss
  • Chemical burns from the airbag due to rapid expansion
Airbag light indicator
Photo Credit By: Bjoern Wylezich, Shutterstock

How Can I Minimize Damage From an Airbag?

  • Position your seat farther from the steering wheel to help give the airbag more time to expand, as many injuries occur when it expands.
  • Have the airbag checked by a qualified technician to ensure that the system is working properly.
  • Always keep at least 2 seconds between you and the object in front of your vehicle while driving so you have enough time to stop; this way, you won’t need the airbag.

car and road divider


Unfortunately, your car’s airbag may cause significant injuries while saving your life. For example, face, hand, and arm bruises are extremely common, and you can even suffer a broken bone. Some people also suffer from burns during deployment. Still, it’s far better to have a working airbag than to not have one at all. If the airbag deploys in your vehicle, it’s important to have a qualified professional technician reinstall it to work correctly the next time that you need it.

Featured Image Credit: Maksim Vivtsaruk, Shutterstock


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