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How Serious Does a Car Accident Have to be for Airbags to Deploy?

deployment of air bags during accident

Modern vehicles offer their drivers and passengers a plethora of safety features that cars of the past could never provide. From brake assistance to back-up cameras, automatic emergency braking systems, collision avoidance systems, pedestrian detection, and blind-spot mirrors, motor vehicles are becoming increasingly enhanced.

In some ways, it can be easy to take the technology for granted or feel as if it has “always been” this way; but even seat belts in their current 3-point design weren’t mandatorily implemented in the United States until 1968.

One safety feature that drivers are often both curious about and wary of is airbags. Because they only deploy in certain instances, many individuals have luckily never encountered them. So how serious does a car accident have to be for airbags to deploy? And what, exactly, do they do?

What Causes Airbags to Deploy?

When a collision occurs, sensors in the vehicle determine the severity and send a signal that causes the airbags to be deployed and inflated via a chemical reaction. The sensors are designed to detect moderate to severe impact, but there are cases where a minor accident can result in airbag deployment if the other vehicle or object hits the vehicle at just the right spot and velocity to trigger the sensors.

How Do Airbags Protect Me?

All new vehicles are required to have front airbags. These airbags are designed to deploy within 30 milliseconds of a collision. The bag, once inflated, acts as a cushion to absorb the forward motion of the driver or passenger, and keep them from smashing into the wheel or dashboard.

Side airbags, which aren’t required in vehicles but are featured in many, work to cushion a person’s side and head, which are often jostled in a collision. This feature keeps them from making contact with the door and windows.

Can Airbags Be Harmful?

Airbags are designed to work in tandem with seat belts. When someone chooses to forgo wearing their seat belt and is involved in an accident in which the airbags deploy, they greatly increase their risk of injury. Also, the choice not to wear a seat belt will be used against the non-restrained occupant, if any claims are presented for personal injury. Kentucky law allows this defense to lessen the apportionment of responsibility of the at-fault driver.

Additionally, drivers or passengers who are seated close to the wheel or dashboard, or who have their legs up on it, risk injuries. The airbags will deploy quickly and with force that can injure a person who is closer than recommended.

In general, it is recommended that a driver and front passenger leave at least 10 inches of space between themselves and the front of the vehicle and that no one should rest their legs on the dashboard.

Also, children should not be front seat passengers, as the force of the airbags can be too strong for their bodies and cause severe injuries. The backseat is normally the safest place in a vehicle for a child.

Can Airbags Fail?

It is important to remember that airbags are not meant to deploy in every collision. The sensors and chemical activation are designed to work in moderate to severe accidents, as seat belts should protect people in minor accidents. 

Airbags are designed to be used only once and need to be replaced following deployment. If you have been in an accident that caused the airbags to deploy, you must have new bags reinstalled. If you purchase a vehicle second-hand, it is also important to inspect and make sure airbags are correctly installed.

In some instances, airbags fail to deploy correctly or at all. These cases can lead to serious injuries for vehicle occupants if the collision is severe, and are cause for a lawyer. With a risk-free consultation, an experienced car accident attorney can help you determine if the vehicle manufacturer can be held liable for injuries sustained due to a failed airbag.

Trust McCoy & Sparks—Premier Personal Injury Attorneys in Central Kentucky

Recognized as one of Central Kentucky’s best law firm for over a decade and counting, McCoy & Sparks works to help people in trouble, representing thousands of clients in Central Kentucky with a focus on providing premium service and delivering superior results.

Regardless of the type of case, our goal is to develop a strategy that best serves your personal needs, then draws upon our courtroom skills to help you reach the best possible result. We start by getting to know you. Next, we will explain all your options, giving you the pros and cons of each choice so that you will be empowered to make informed decisions.

You owe us nothing unless we recover compensation for you. Make the right call to 844-4KY-WINS for a risk-free consultation with one of our attorneys today.