Head Injuries from Airbag Deployment

Airbags have saved hundreds of thousands of lives since being sold to the public for the first time in 1973. They have been so successful that car manufacturers now include a passenger-side airbag, as well as side airbags. Some vehicles even include an airbag for your legs.

Unfortunately, air bags can deploy with such force that they cause injuries. Unsuspecting motorists can end up in the back of the ambulance because their air bag broke bones or burned them. Below, our personal injury attorneys in Virginia review some of the most common head injuries.

Facial Fracture

Manufacturers position airbags so that they provide a cushion for a motorist’s head. However, their force can easily fracture bones in the face, including cheekbones, orbital bones, and even your nose. Pain and swelling are the first symptoms most people notice. Most fractures should heal if given enough time. But if they fuse at an odd angle, a motorist can suffer a permanent disfiguring injury.

Eye Injuries

The eye is not well protected from the front, which is the direction the airbag is coming from. The force can cause serious injuries to the eyes, such as:

  • Lens dislocation, leading to blurry vision and requiring surgical correction.

  • Retinal detachment, which can result in blindness if the retina is not repositioned.

  • Holes in the macula, requiring surgical repair.

  • Cornea abrasion, which can cause discomfort though it should heal on its own.

Although most eye injuries are treatable, accident victims need immediate medical attention to halt any degeneration of their vision.


Sometimes pieces of metal or plastic are ejected along with the airbag. These sharp pieces can cut a person’s face and head. Although a cut might not be life-threatening, it can lead to permanent scarring and embarrassment. Cuts also run the risk of becoming infected.


Airbags deploy when the car senses that the vehicle is rapidly decelerating. Certain chemicals and nitrogen gas ignite, which powers the deployment. Unfortunately, temperatures can reach up to 500 degrees Celsius in some cars. Both hot gas and alkaline aerosol get released into the car cabin, which can burn a person’s face.

As with lacerations, burns can leave permanent scars, which lead to emotional distress which is very hard to overcome. Burns can also become infected.

Traumatic Brain Injuries

Airbags prevent many traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) because they prevent the head from slamming against the wheel or dashboard. However, airbags can’t prevent all TBIs. The head can rebound forcefully. Strong “jolts” to the brain can cause it to move around and lead to a TBI.

Accident victims can lose consciousness and suffer other symptoms, such as headaches, impaired memory, loss of coordination, sleep disturbances, and slurred speech.

TBIs vary from relatively mild to severe. Most will improve with sufficient rest, though some victims need therapy and rehabilitation to regain lost functioning.

Head Injuries Deserve Compensation

At The Jackson Law Group, we help people recover financial compensation for their accident injuries. If you would like to talk with an attorney, please call us to schedule a free consultation.