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Your Airbag May Save Your Life — But It Might Also Injure Your Arms

airbag injuries to arms

It has been decades since airbags became standard safety features in automobiles. Over the years, these devices have saved countless lives and averted numerous severe injuries. But airbags do not prevent all injuries in a car crash and have never been claimed to. While they may save your life, they can also cause you significant harm. By their design, airbags deploy and inflate with incredible speed and power. The forces involved can cause injuries to your head, neck, and chest. Your arms can also sustain airbag injury from airbag deployment. Knowing the common airbag injuries to arms can enable you to evaluate yourself following a crash and see if you need medical treatment. It can also employ you with knowledge of your legal rights and assist you in knowing when and from whom you can seek damages.


How Airbags Work in Modern Cars?


Modern cars contain numerous sensors that measure all sorts of data, including the forces involved in a crash.

Front-end airbags deploy when the applicable sensors detect forces that exceed preset parameters. For example, a sensor may measure the rate of deceleration. If the sensor detects that the vehicle is accelerating faster than the preset limit, the process of deploying the airbag begins.

The sensor sends a signal to an electric ignitor, which starts a chemical reaction inside the airbag module. One of the byproducts of this chemical reaction is nitrogen, a harmless gas that inflates the airbag in less than one second.

If your car is equipped with other airbags, such as side curtain airbags, these work in a similar way. The sensors connected to these airbags measure different forces. But once they detect forces in excess of their preset tolerances, they trigger the deployment of their connected airbags.

Common Airbag Injuries to Arms


You may be concerned with whether your head or neck has sustained injuries in a crash, but other parts of your body can suffer harm in a crash as well. When your front airbags deploy in a crash, this event can lead to painful injuries to your arms. Some of the most common types of airbag injuries to arms include the following.

Rupture of the Flexor Tendon


Your flexor tendons are located in your forearms and run down across your wrists and your palms. This tendon gives you the ability to bend your fingers and thumb, such as when you make a fist or grip objects like your car’s steering wheel.

Because of your hand’s proximity to the steering wheel in a crash, this tendon can suffer trauma and damage. As a result, you might find it difficult to close your hand into a fist or bend your fingers following an airbag deployment.

Minor injuries to your flexor tendon may be painful but might get better with rest. But if the tendon ruptures, you will need surgery and physical therapy to repair it and regain function.

Trauma to the Biceps and Triceps Tendon


There are two other tendons in your arm that can also suffer injury when your airbag deploys. The biceps tendon is responsible for allowing your elbow to bend, while the triceps tendon enables the joint to straighten out. Both tendons are crucial to the free and effective movement of your elbow.

Without a functioning elbow, you cannot reach for objects or pull them toward you. You also are not able to lift or push objects.

Like your flexor tendon, the shock and force with which an airbag inflates can cause damage to these tendons. Injuries can result, making it impossible for you to use your arms until they heal.

Your doctor might require you to wear a sling until the tendons heal sufficiently. In cases involving more significant trauma, you may require surgery to fix the damage.

Ulnar Nerve Dysfunction


Tendons are not the only body part to which a forcefully inflating airbag can cause damage. Nerves, most significantly your ulnar nerve, can suffer damage and cause pain, weakness, or numbness in the affected hand.

Your ulnar nerve runs the length of your arm and terminates in your hand and little finger. It is especially vulnerable to injury at the elbow and in the hand. Forces or trauma in these areas can lead to nerve damage.

In most cases, ulnar nerve damage will resolve on its own, although it can take several months to do so. Direct injury to your hand or elbow can permanently damage your ulnar nerve, though. When this happens, you may never regain normal sensation in your hand or palm.

Wrist Fractures


The radius is one of two bones that make up your forearm, running from your elbow joint to your wrist. When these bones are broken, you can experience swelling of your wrist and pain when trying to use that hand.

A small fracture may heal with time, but until it does, you will likely find it hard to use your hand for everyday activities. More severe fractures often require surgery to insert pins that stabilize the joint.

You may also need physical therapy following a wrist fracture to regain strength and function in the wrist.

Defective Airbags Present Additional Risk


airbag injuries
Defective Airbag

The risk of airbag injuries to arms increases significantly if your airbag is defective. If the speed and force with which the airbag inflates are too great, there is a greater chance that these damaging and traumatic forces will impact your arms.

For this reason, if you are involved in a car crash and suffer any damage to your hands, wrists, or arms, your personal injury attorney should review whether your airbag may have played a role. If your airbag was defective and this contributed to your injuries, you may succeed in recovering compensation from the airbag manufacturer.

Professional Legal Representation from a Skilled Airbag Injury Lawyer


If you have been injured by defective airbag, contact our airbag injury lawyer at Joel Biber Firm.

Airbag injuries to arms can be painful and limit your ability to work and enjoy life. You deserve compensation for these losses, and The Joel Bieber Firm wants to help you recover what you are owed. Reach out to our professional defective airbag lawyer today for help.

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