Airbags and Eye Injuries

deployed airbag

The invention of the airbag has brought about an era of improved safety in motor vehicles and has contributed to a sharp reduction in injuries and the mortality rate in car crashes; however, inappropriate use and manufacture of airbags can also cause injuries. The eyes, given their location, are a particularly vulnerable set of organs and can be injured by the airbag. 

If you or a family member has suffered an eye injury in an accident caused by someone else's negligence, call our injury lawyers at (916) 921-6400 to learn how you can pursue a personal injury claim. We offer free, friendly advice.

How do Eye Injuries and Airbags Develop?

In the event of a car crash, airbags can save lives and prevent wrongful death. The bag deploys and helps to cushion the impact that someone could have on the steering wheel or dashboard. For the bag to inflate quickly, there are special chemicals that help to aid in this process. On the other hand, these chemicals can also be released into the air. This can make people cough, irritating the lungs, but can also get in the eyes, hurting them. 

This can cause the eyes to turn red and start watering, a normal response to a foreign body that makes contact with the globe of the eye itself. The airbag itself can also collide with the face, leading to damage to the ocular bones or the iris. Severe injuries can penetrate the eye and damage the retina. 

These are all possible mechanisms of how airbags can lead to eye damage. While certain precautions are in place to minimize this, improper manufacture of airbags can lead to ocular trauma.

A Review: Eyes and Airbags

Because of the importance of eyes and their possible injuries due to airbags, a team of professionals conducted a substantial literature review to learn more about this relationship. When the airbags deploy, they must deploy quickly to prevent potential collisions between the head of the driver or passenger and the steering wheel or dashboard; however, problems with the airbag can lead to injuries as well, as case reports have discussed.

A team of medical professionals set out to compile as much data as they could find relating to eye injuries and airbags. They scoured the electronic literature and put all of the data and reports from these papers together into one composite document. They performed statistical analyses on the data and looked for trends. They found that while airbags significantly reduced the potential for suffering injuries overall, airbags only led to a reduction in eye injuries if a seat belt was also used in the vehicle. 

This means that the seat belts help restrain the head and face from colliding with the airbag, helping to reduce the development of eye and facial injuries. People should wear their seat belts at all times. This will maximize the benefit of the airbag as well.

Treatment of Eye Injuries Due to Airbags

When people develop injuries to their eyes due to airbag deployment in a motor vehicle accident, there are a few hallmarks of treatment that need to be followed. First, anyone with suspicion of damage to their eyes needs to be evaluated by a medical professional. A sterile saline solution should be used to flush out the eyes. This will remove the majority of any dust or, possibly, foreign bodies that may have impacted the eye as well. 

If someone has trouble seeing or if this flush does not provide any significant relief, the eyes need to be evaluated by a trained ophthalmologist to ensure that there aren't any ocular emergencies that need to be taken care of. Rapid diagnosis and treatment of these emergencies play an invaluable role in preserving vision and maximizing the chance of a successful recovery.

Legal Help for Airbags and Injuries

Without a doubt, airbags have made a significant difference in the safety of motor vehicles. They provide an important cushion that can prevent people from sustaining skull fractures and facial fractures due to an auto accident; however, inappropriate use and manufacture of airbags can lead to injuries. There have been recalls due to prolific misuse, manufacturing errors, and miscellaneous other problems in the past.

People who have sustained injuries due to airbags should reach out to my office to learn about the available options. Eye injuries can be costly, and those without vision insurance could be wondering what to do. Even those with insurance may have large deductibles that they need to pay. A discussion with a personal injury attorney can reveal additional options for covering the cost of these injuries.

The video below explains how some airbags can cause injuries.

Sacramento Personal Injury Lawyer

I'm Ed Smith, a personal injury lawyer in Sacramento. If you or a loved one suffered has severe eye injuries in a traumatic accident, please call our injury attorneys at (916) 921-6400 or 800.404.5400 for free, friendly advice.

We are members of the National Association of Distinguished Counsel and the Million Dollar Advocates Forum.

See our client reviews on GoogleYelp, and Avvo and case history of verdicts and settlements.

Editor’s Note: This page has been updated for accuracy and relevancy [cha 3.24.21]

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