Whether airbags deploy or not during a car accident may affect the value of a personal injury case.
Airbag Deploys But You’re Not Wearing a Seat Belt
Air bags are supplemental restraints and are designed to work best in combination with safety belts. In Florida, certain occupants of a car are required to wear seat belts.
For settlement purposes, the full value of your injury case may get reduced if you didn’t have your seatbelt on and your airbag deployed. The full value would be reduced only if your seatbelt would’ve prevented your injury.
The responsible insurance company will need to prove that your failure to wear you seatbelt caused or aggravated your injury.
Airbags Deploy in Moderate to Severe crashes
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, both frontal and side-impact air bags are designed to deploy in moderate to severe crashes.
All things equal, auto insurers generally offer more money for pain and suffering in moderate to severe crashes. They offer less money in minor impact cases.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety says that typically a front airbag will deploy for unbelted occupants when the crash is the equivalent of an impact into a rigid wall at 10-12 mph.
Most airbags will deploy at a higher threshold — about 16 mph — for belted occupants because the belts alone are likely to provide adequate protection up to these moderate speeds.
Insurance Company May Offer More if Airbag Deploys
Thus, insurance companies offer more money if an airbag deploys. This is particularly true in Florida car accident cases, where you often need a permanent injury to get money for pain and suffering.
Many insurance companies use claims software to calculate how much they think a personal injury claim is worth. One of the questions that this software asks if the airbags deployed in the crash.
If the answer is yes, this increases the full value of the pain and suffering component of the injured person’s case. If the airbags didn’t deploy, this may decrease the case’s pain and suffering component.
If you’re in a car accident and your airbag deploys, a jury is more likely to believe that you could have been hurt in the crash. A claims adjuster shares the same belief.
Airbag Deployment May Be a Big Deal in Soft Tissue Cases
This is particularly true for soft tissue injuries, where the claimant’s injuries may be subjective (can’t be seen). Soft tissue injuries include neck, back and shoulder pain, and more.
Thus, an adjuster may offer more money if your airbag deployed and you have soft tissue injuries.
Airbags Can Cause Injuries
Air bags deploy very fast. Serious or sometimes deadly injuries can occur if you’re too close to – or is in direct contact with – the air bag when it first begins to deploy.
If you had your seat belt on and your airbag deployed and injured you, this becomes part of your personal injury case against the liable parties.
In most accidents, a case against the airbag manufacturer is too expensive to pursue. This is usually true unless you suffered catastrophic injuries.
Deploying Frontal Air Bag
Using seat belts help prevent occupants from being “too close” to a deploying frontal air bag. If you didn’t use a seat belt in this situation, the claims adjuster may place blame on you for failing to wear you seat belt if your injuries would’ve been prevented had you used one.
Rollover crashes are longer events than frontal or side-impact crashes. Air bags that are designed to provide rollover protection are also designed to remain inflated longer.
All things equal, rollover crashes are worth more because they are a longer event. There is a greater chance that you suffer injury in a rollover accident.
Thus, insurance companies usually assign more money to the pain and suffering component of the case in a rollover crash.
Eye or Throat Irritation from Airbag
The powdery starch or talcum substance released when some air bags deploy may initially contain small amounts of sodium hydroxide.
It may cause some temporary minor irritation to an occupant’s eyes or throat.
If you have irritation to your eyes or throat, be sure to tell the paramedics as well as any doctors or medical professionals that you treat with. This may add value to your case.
Abrasions (Scrapes, Cuts, Bruises)
Sometimes an occupant may suffer abrasions from contact with the fabric of the air bag. These are often minor injuries.
Abrasions are scrapes, cuts or bruises. You should take photos of any abrasions on your body.
Send photos to the liability adjuster as soon as possible. You want your injuries to stand out to the adjuster.
$100,000 Settlement for Herniated Disc Where Airbags Deploy
See a $100,000 settlement for a lady hit by a car in North Miami Beach. Her airbags deployed.
She said the crash worsened her pre-existing bulging discs and herniated discs.
She also broke her nose. A neurosurgeon recommended lower back surgery.
GEICO paid its $100,000 BI insurance limits shortly after the crash. I represented her.
Driver Gets $39,000 for Crash Where Airbag Deploys
A represented a driver. He was operating his pickup truck in Pinecrest, Florida.
Another driver ran a stop sign and hit him. His airbag deployed.
This helped our argument that this was a moderate to severe impact that caused his neck and back injuries. The damage to his truck was big so airbag deployment was not a huge factor.
We claimed that the crash caused or aggravated his herniated disc and bulging discs. GEICO insured the careless driver.
GEICO paid $20,000 to settle. My client had uninsured motorist insurance with Star & Shield Insurance Exchange.
They paid $19,000 to settle.
Driver Gets $14,300 After Air Bag Burns Her Hands
I represented a lady who was driving her car in Venice, Sarasota County, Florida. Another driver crashed into her.
Her airbag deployed. It burned her hands. It caused a discoloration to her hands.
It looked very bad at first. Through time, her hands healed. She didn’t have plastic surgery on her hands.
AIG insured the careless driver. AIG paid $14,300 to settle the case.
Those are just two of the hundreds of car accident cases that I’ve settled where an air bag deployed.
I am a Miami car accident lawyer. I represent people injured anywhere in Florida in car accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, bike accidents, drunk driving crashes, pedestrian accidents, taxi accidents, accidents involving an Uber or Lyft driver, and many other types of accidents.
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