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10 Most Common Airbag Injuries

Airbag injuries can happen any time you’re involved in an automobile accident. These safety features are meant to save lives, but sometimes they can cause debilitating injuries—even death—if they malfunction.

Front airbags have been required in all new passenger vehicles since 1999, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). Side airbags aren’t mandated, but most vehicle manufacturers include them as part of the standard design.

Victims of airbag injuries have rights to fair compensation under personal injury laws in New Mexico. In this guide we’ll discuss:

How do airbags work?

Airbags work by providing cushioning and protection in the event of a collision. When a collision occurs, the airbag is deployed and instantly begins to fill with air. If it’s functioning properly, the airbag quickly deflates, providing cushioning for the front occupants of the vehicle.

Sensors tell the airbags when to deploy. These sensors are located throughout your vehicle. They constantly monitor the speed and force of the vehicle. When a collision happens, the sensors send a signal to the airbag control unit, triggering the airbags to release.  

Airbags are sophisticated, but that doesn’t mean they still can’t cause injuries.

airbag injuries benefits
Airbags have been required for drivers and front passengers since 1999.

What are the benefits of airbags?

Airbags have been around since the 1970s. Over the years, their design and performance have improved, making them a valuable safety feature. Most automobile insurance companies provide significant discounts on coverage if your vehicle has front and side airbags.

One of the biggest features of airbags is their ability to reduce your chances of hitting your head or upper body on the vehicle’s interior—including the steering wheel—during a crash. Air bags are designed to complement seatbelts, so make sure you’re using both to lessen your chances of injury during a car accident.

Besides preventing drivers and front-seat passengers from hitting their heads and upper bodies on the vehicle’s interior, there are other benefits. They include:

  • Airbags prevent you from being thrown out of the vehicle during a crash.
  • Airbags decrease the amount of force impacting your head by limiting the distance it can move forward.
  • Airbags increase the cushioning around your head, neck, and spine.
An Xray of a skull showing a traumatic brain injury, one of the most common airbag injuries.
One of the most common airbag injuries is traumatic brain injury from the impact of the airbag against your head.

What are the 10 most common airbag injuries?

Airbags are designed to save lives, but that doesn’t mean they always work as intended. Recalls for this safety feature have happened numerous times in recent years. One of the biggest airbag recalls involved the Takata PSAN model, which were installed in 34 brands of vehicles made by 19 different automakers and sold in the U.S.

Malfunctioning airbags aren’t the only reason a driver or passenger can get hurt. Even when they work properly, airbags still have the potential of causing injury. Here are 10 of the most common airbag injuries.

  1. Asthma attacks
    Asthma attacks and other respiratory issues aren’t uncommon when airbags release. That’s because airbags are filled with gasses that can trigger breathing difficulties, especially in those with pre-existing conditions.
  2. Burns
    Your arms, chest, face, and hands can get fabric “burn” as the airbag deploys and brushes hard against your skin.
  3. Chest injuries
    The impact of a deploying airbag can cause blunt force trauma injuries to your chest. If you have a heart defect or other cardiac condition, the impact can sometimes trigger it. The closer you sit to your steering wheel, the more likely you are to suffer from chest injuries.
  4. Ear trauma
    Hearing loss—temporary and permanent—can happen when an airbag releases. Air bags pack an acoustic pressure of 170dBs, which can produce harmful inner ear damage, according to the JAMA Network.
  5. Eye injuries
    You can experience eye injuries from airbags in one of two ways. The chemicals packed inside can get into your eyes during deployment, or they can succumb to the pressure of the airbag deployment.
  6. Facial injuries
    Bruises, fractures, and lacerations to the face aren’t uncommon during airbag deployment. You also might experience chemical burns to your face from the combination of nitrogen and carbon dioxide, which combine to form sodium hydroxide. If it penetrates your skin, it also can cause deep-tissue injuries.
  7. Fetal injuries
    Pregnant persons face a unique challenge when airbags are released. The brunt of the impact can hit their enlarged bellies, causing injury to the developing fetus. Safety experts recommend following the 10-inch rule if you’re pregnant and riding in a vehicle with airbags. Stay back from the area of deployment by at least 10 inches.
  8. Fractures
    The force of an airbag deploying can fracture your ribs, skull, and wrist bones. It can be difficult to prevent these kinds of injuries for drivers because these areas of their body are close to the steering wheel, where the airbag is stored.
  9. Internal bleeding
    Internal bleeding is always an issue following a car accident, whether your airbags deployed or not. Pressure from seatbelts also can lead to internal bleeds that may not be immediately apparent. This type of injury is most likely if your internal organs were impacted by the airbag. It’s always a good idea to get evaluated by a medical professional if you’re in a crash where the airbags were released.
  10. Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
    Airbags are designed to prevent TBIs by preventing your head from slamming against the steering wheel or dashboard of your vehicle. That doesn’t mean they’re foolproof. If your head rebounds forcefully from the impact with the airbag, you still might suffer a TBI.
Photo of the dash of a car on the passenger side where the airbag is stored. The words airbag appear. Airbag injuries can happen during deployment.
Airbag injuries can happen when airbags malfunction and even if they deploy properly.

How do you prevent airbag injuries?

There are steps you can take to protect yourself from airbag injuries. Making sure you’re properly seated in your vehicle is the most effective safeguard. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recommends drivers and front-seat passengers sit at least 10 inches away from airbags.

Pay attention to recalls on your vehicle. You can check for recalls using online tools that take your vehicle identification number or license plate number and run it against a list of known recalls.  

Get help for airbag injuries

Proving an airbag injury is an important part of filing a personal injury lawsuit. That’s why it’s important to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney in Albuquerque as soon as possible after an accident.

Even if you’re at fault for an accident that caused your airbag injuries, you still have legal recourse. Don’t wait until an insurance company denies your claim before reaching out to a personal injury attorney to discuss your rights.

Schedule your free case evaluation by calling 505-218-7844 or requesting an appointment online.

How to Sue for Lawn Mower Injuries

Lawn mower injuries can be a surefire sign of spring. As soon as the flowers start blooming and the birds start singing, your grass starts growing, too. That leads to the annual firing up of the lawn mower for the first grass cutting of the season.

More than 35,000 Americans get hurt while mowing their laws each year. Most of these injuries happen when a mower’s feet contact a powered mower’s blades. Mowing while wearing flipflops or other open-toed shoes can increase the likelihood of this happening.

Many law mower injuries happen because of operator error. Others may happen because of a defective product or another person’s negligence. When the later occurs, you may be able to sue for your lawn mower injuries.

Defective product or operator error?

When a lawn mower causes a serious injury, the first question might be whether the mower was defective. Consumers who end up with lemons can file a product liability claim if their injuries were caused by a defective mower. There are two questions to ask when determining if the mower was functioning as intended.

  1. Did the mower malfunction?
    Lawn mower manufacturers design their products with safety in mind. Most mowers come with explicit instructions on how to operate them to safeguard your well-being. Consumers who follow the safety instructions and still become injured through no fault of their own should explore whether the mower malfunctioned. If so, they may be able to file a product liability claim against the manufacturer.
  2. Was the mower poorly designed?
    Sometimes a lawn mower’s design can contribute to injuries. Let’s say your mower comes with a foot guard that’s supposed to protect your feet from the mower’s blades during operation. The guard doesn’t work as intended, and you end up with significant injuries to your feet. In this case, the product designer may be at fault.
  3. Did operator error cause your injuries?
    Sometimes people are injured by lawn mowers they aren’t operating. How can this be possible? Well, let’s say you’re out for a leisurely walk through your neighborhood, when you get hit by a flying rock from your neighbor’s mower. If your neighbor had his mower’s deck turned toward the sidewalk, he can be at fault for your injuries.
Mowing in your bare feet is a recipe for disaster and can lead to some serious foot injuries.

What are some common lawn mower injuries?

Powered lawn mowers make yard work much easier. They may be useful, but they also can cause some serious injuries. Here are a few of the most common lawn mower injuries that happen each mowing season across the U.S.

  • Broken or fractured bones can happen if you try to mow while the grass is wet, and you slip and fall.
  • Burns are another way you can get injured. Powered lawn mowers get hot during operation. Accidentally touching the hood or other areas can cause serious burns.
  • Crushing body injuries can happen any time you operate a lawn mower. You could become trapped under the mower if it tips over, causing the crushing injuries.
  • Cuts and dismemberment can happen if you get your hands or your feet too close to the lawn mower’s blades while in operation. You can even cut yourself on the blades when the mower is turned off if you’re not careful.
  • Eye injuries can happen when the mower’s blades pick up debris (such as rocks) and throw them back at you. Wearing goggles while mowing can prevent eye injuries.

What steps do you take when injured?

Whether it’s a small cut or a broken bone, law mower injuries require immediate medical attention. Even small scrapes and abrasions can become infected without proper treatment. Going to your family doctor or the emergency room, if necessary, ensures you get the care you need. It also is the most effective way to document your injuries if you decide to move forward with a product liability or personal injury lawsuit.

After you receive treatment for your injuries, the next step is to consult with an experienced product liability or personal injury attorney. Bill Russell has the experience and knowledge to assist with your case. Call 505-218-7844 or contact Bill online to request a consultation.

Product recalls don’t protect manufacturers from claims

Product recalls don’t protect manufacturers from liability or legal claims when their products cause serious injury or death to consumers. Take the case of a Fisher-Price recall issued in 2019 for 5 million Rock ‘n Play Sleepers because of a risk of suffocation due to the product’s design. It took a decade and 50 infant deaths for the company to pull the popular product from circulation. Fisher-Price had been warned since 2009 of the high risk the product’s design posed to infant health and safety. Even after the recall was issued, only about 8 percent of the products were returned by consumers.

Fisher-Price reported its progress during the recall to the Consumer Products Safety Commission. Those reports, which usually are not publicly available, have been used in numerous lawsuits against the company by consumers who used the product and allege they never received a recall notification.

The recall debacle with Fisher-Price is one example of why product recalls do not protect manufacturers from product liability claims. Recalls can help prove a manufacturer has taken steps to correct a dangerous situation, but it doesn’t relieve them of all responsibility.

How product recalls work

Product recalls generally happen in one of two ways in the U.S. When manufacturers become aware of a design flaw or other defect in one of their products, or when a government agency alerts the manufacturer to the issue. Some government agencies, like the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), have the authority to issue a product recall without the manufacturer’s permission. Other government offices with the power to mandate product recall include the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

When manufacturers become aware of a problem, they can voluntarily disclose that information to the CPSC through the Fast-Track Product Recall Program. Section 15 of the Product Safety Act requires manufacturers to reveal safety issues. Once the CPSC has the information, it can opt for a recall within 20 working days of the date of the notification from the product manufacturer.

Once the recall is issued, all sellers and distributors of the product receive a notification. They must remove the product from their shelves immediately and post notices to their customers about the recall that include instructions on how consumers can return the product for a refund. Notifications also must warn consumers of the danger associated with the product. Some products that come with warranties have information on specific owners, who also may receive a recall notice from the U.S. Postal Service or via electronic communications.

product recalls
Product recalls do not automatically protect manufacturers in New Mexico.

New product safety requirements in New Mexico

In 2018, New Mexico adopted new product safety requirements and recall procedures for vehicle and product manufacturers operating within the state. Under the new legislation, recall procedures are now mandatory in New Mexico. Modifications in the law allow the Federal Consumer Protection Agency to take the following actions:

  • Remove or call for repairs to defective or insecure products.
  • Open investigations into product safety concerns.
  • Impose sanctions on manufacturing companies not in compliance with product safety standards.

Before these new procedures were adopted, product recalls were voluntary in New Mexico. Now, manufacturers doing business within the state’s borders must review their quality standards for products they produce and import to defend themselves against legal action that may arise because of product defects and other liabilities.  

Holding manufacturers liable for faulty products

Recalls do not automatically mean a manufacturer is liable for a defect that may have caused injuries or deaths. Manufacturers can produce evidence that establishes they took all necessary steps to safeguard consumers, including issuing a voluntary recall when a problem was brought to their attention. Victims still must prove they became ill or injured because of the defect within the product to recover damages.

Conversely, a recall is not an immediate defense against product liability. Recalls do not always protect manufacturers from legal responsibility when consumers suffer serious injuries or die from using their faulty products. Product manufacturers must provide specific evidence to remain shielded from legal liability. Among that documentation is proof the consumer received information about the product recall before suffering injuries or death and that the notice sufficiently explained the danger of continued use of the product.

Consulting the product liability pros

The personal injury lawyers at Cameron & Russell have the experience needed to win your product liability case against manufacturers. We understand the nuances of product recalls and how some manufacturers try to use them to shield against liability. Phone us at 505-218-7844 or contact us online to schedule your free case evaluation today.

When Your Favorite Product Hurts You

Beds, clothing, and even your favorite flat-screen television can injure you when you least expect it. Most consumers do not think about the products they use every day causing them harm. Yet nearly 11 million people have received emergency room treatment because of injuries from consumer products. When your favorite product hurts you, there is recourse. Reaching out to a personal injury lawyer skilled in product liability can ensure you receive fair compensation for your injuries.

What is product liability?

Product liability is the legal term used to describe the responsibility of distributors, manufacturers, and sellers of defective items. While accidents can and do happen with any consumer product, manufacturers must follow certain standards designed to help prevent injuries and even deaths from normal use of their products.

Any product can become the target of a personal injury lawsuit. It could be a piece of furniture with a design flaw prone to breaking during normal use, or clothing that does not meet the federal flammability standards. Sometimes it takes a personal injury lawsuit to prompt a product recall. Other times, the product already was recalled and ended up in the hands of the consumer anyway.

Buyers have legal protections when products are determined to be unreasonably dangerous. While no federal product liability laws exist, each state has its own rules. In New Mexico, distributors and manufacturers are liable for defective products that cause injuries to consumers when negligence can be proven.

Steps to take after a faulty product injury

Consumers who are harmed by faulty products must be proactive in seeking out assistance to improve their chances of receiving compensation for their injuries. Following these recommended steps can help strengthen your case against product distributors and manufacturers.

  1. Seek medical care for your injuries
    There are two reasons to seek immediate medical treatment for injuries caused by defective items. First, to ensure you receive appropriate treatment for the type of physical harm caused by the product. Second, to document those injuries for later use in a personal injury lawsuit. Medical records are essential components to any successful personal injury complaint, especially one that involves product liability.
  2. Check for a recall
    Some product recalls receive a lot of attention. You hear about them on the news, through social media, and even from signs posted in the retails locations where the products are sold. Others may not garner as much awareness. One of the best sources for checking on product recalls is the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The commission posts information on its website about all recalls, including those that have not managed to make the 6 o’clock news. Consumers can search by date, category, type of hazard, and manufacturing origin. If the product that caused your injuries is the subject of a recall, you can export the data from the commission and add it to your evidence for a potential personal injury claim against the distributor or manufacturer.
  3. Seek legal counsel
    Determining liability for faulty products is an important step when considering a personal injury lawsuit. Personal injury attorneys experienced with product liability can guide you through the process to ensure your rights are protected. One of the first things your personal injury lawyer will do is check to see if a class-action lawsuit for the item already has been filed. If one exists, you can consider joining it. There are pros and cons to joining a class-action lawsuit. Your attorney can discuss these with you before you decide whether to join one or file an individual claim.
  4. Identify all responsible parties
    As previously mentioned, this is where hiring a personal injury attorney skilled in product liability law comes in handy. Experienced product liability attorneys can follow the distribution chain to identify all responsible parties. From designers and manufacturers to retail distributors and wholesalers, each plays a unique role in getting a product to market. Some entities may have more responsibility for your injuries than others depending on why the product is defective. Your attorney can determine if some or all the parties involved should be included in the personal injury claim.
  5. Gather supporting documentation
    Another perk of hiring an experienced product liability law attorney is they will provide direction on which kinds of records can help prove your case. Receipts, product registration numbers, warranty information, and medical documentation of your injuries are just a few of the items that can point to liability.

Knowing when to settle

Most personal injury lawsuits never make it inside a courtroom, including those for product liability. Settling outside of court can be a beneficial experience for victims when they work with a reputable and skilled personal injury attorney. They can receive appropriate compensation for their injuries and other damages while being spared the stress of a lengthy court case. The product liability law experts at Cameron & Russell protects your rights while seeking the best route for recovering fair compensation. Schedule your free case evaluation today to get started.

Surprising Ways Holiday Gifts Can Hurt You

‘Tis the season for gift-giving. People spend time carefully choosing the perfect gift for their family and friends, excited to see their faces when they open them. Sometimes those well-intentioned gifts cause serious injuries to loved ones. No one wants to spend their holiday in the emergency room, but that is exactly what can happen under the right circumstances. Here are some of the ways holiday gifts can hurt you and how to avoid a disaster.

You’ll Shoot Your Eye Out!

Anyone who has ever seen the 1980s holiday classic A Christmas Story knows exactly what those iconic words mean. While it was amusing to watch a fictional Ralphie find out the hard way that his coveted Christmas gift was an accident waiting to happen, such happenstances are not so funny when they happen in real life.  

If you buy a loved one a Red Ryder BB gun or any other type of air-powered gun like Ralphie had in that movie, make sure they understand the dangers associated with their gift. Air weapons have evolved since the 1980s, making their penetration power like that of conventional handguns. They can cause serious injuries and should never be given to anyone too irresponsible to handle them safely.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) said 71 percent of air gun injuries were unintentional and caused an average 3-day hospital stay for injured parties. Of those, at least 66 percent caused permanent injuries. Some of the most common ways air guns and other pellet guns can injure users include:

  • Eye injuries can cause permanent partial vision loss or blindness. They most frequently happen when air guns backfire and hit the user in the eye. ‘
  • Skin lacerations and punctures are another common injury with these types of guns. Pellets and BBs can travel at speeds exceeding 200 mph and become embedded in the skin.
  • Bacterial Infections in areas of the body hit by BBs and pellets, especially when the skin is lacerated.

Removing secure packaging

A surprising number of people injure themselves each year not with the gifts they receive, but with their packaging. Dubbed “wrap rage” by industry experts, it happens when someone has difficulty removing poorly-packaged or overly secure product packaging. To cut down on waste and make products harder to tamper with on the shelves, many manufacturers have optimized their product packaging designs.

It is not the packaging itself that causes the injuries. Rather, it is what people do out of desperation trying to get them open. One of the most popular solutions is to grab boxcutters, a knife, scissors, or another sharp tool to pry the product free. What often ends up happening is an injury that requires a trip to the emergency room for stitches. If you are unlucky enough to sever tendons or ligaments with that sharp object, you might need surgery to repair the damage.

Frustration-free packaging can help prevent these kinds of injuries. If you bought or received a gift that sent you into a fit of wrap rage this holiday season, consider reaching out to the product manufacturer with feedback about your frustrations. If they care about customer satisfaction, they may work with a product packaging engineer to improve the unpackaging experience.

Toys with small parts can pose a choking hazard for little ones.

Choking on toys

Choking on toys has been a risk for as long as children’s toys have existed. Extra vigilance at the holidays is necessary since children receive numerous gifts from well-meaning family and friends who may not realize they have purchased something dangerous. Parents and other adults who buy gifts for little ones should follow product age recommendations to help reduce the risk. Some other guidelines to keep in mind to help keep children safe from choking this holiday season:

  • Check all toys for loose parts or components that can easily break off and end up in a child’s mouth.
  • Read warning labels and pay particular attention to any instructions about choking hazards and how to avoid them.
  • Keep toys that can be a choking hazard away from younger siblings. This can include games with coins, marbles, and small balls.

Don’t be afraid to say no to holiday gifts that can hurt you

Never be afraid to say no to a gift request if you know it will pose a danger to the recipient. The same holds true for gifts you or your family members receive from others. If you do get injured by a faulty product, you have recourse. Reach out to us to learn how we can help.

My hip was recalled. Now what?

Product liability is a common reason for personal injury lawsuits in the U.S. Each year, roughly 40 million lawsuits are filed by consumers who are injured by faulty products. It is much easier to deal with products used externally when there is a defect in their design or manufacturing. What happens when the product that is not working as intended (or outright causing harm or further injury) is implanted inside your body? It is scary to think about, but unfortunately, it happens.

A perfect case in point is some recalls and lawsuits over defective hip replacements. Some of the most popular hip replacement manufacturers faced recalls and lawsuits in recent years. It is better for consumers when defects are discovered before they end up in your body. Once a defective hip replacement part is inside you, it can cause added pain and suffering if it must be removed or repaired. When that happens, consumers turn to personal injury law firms to help recover costs associated with additional surgery, lost wages, and pain and suffering.

Different types of product liability

Three main types of product defects can lead to recalls and product liability personal injury lawsuits.

  • Design defects are serious and denote an entire product was either poorly designed or never tested for safety and efficacy before hitting the market. This type of product defect has the potential to cause serious injury to consumers and even death depending on the severity of the defect. For this reason, consumers tend to receive larger settlements and court-awarded damages for design defects.
  • Manufacturing defects happen when the product was designed well, but something went wrong in the manufacturing process. Manufacturing defects can affect all products or just a few on the assembly line. It depends on what the issue with manufacturing was on whether every product is affected or a select few from a certain “batch.”
  • Marketing defects are part of the warning labels for products. Consumers are familiar with product packaging that includes instructions for assembly (when applicable) and proper use and safety guidelines. Product manufacturers who fail to include this information – or who omit important details that can cause someone to misuse a product – can be liable for that omission if it leads to injury or death.

Just because a product is defective does not mean it will cause an injury or death. The responsibility for recalling a product lies with the producer, manufacturer, and importer of the product. If any of these parties know of a defect and fail to alert consumers, they can face product liability lawsuits from consumers and potential punitive action from the U.S. government.

Most common types of hip replacement recall

Modern medicine is amazing. There was a time when, if you had a hip injury, you had to live with the debilitating pain and decreased mobility. Now, there are options for products designed to restore range of motion and help you live an active, pain-free lifestyle.

Just because these devices exist does not mean they work perfectly. Increased failure rates for hip replacement parts – especially the metal-on-metal designs – are becoming more commonplace. Sometimes patients suffer from metal poisoning.

While designers and manufacturers of hip replacement products are compelled toward safety, the Food and Drug Administration does not require premarket testing for hip implants. That means if there is an issue the designers or manufacturers did not anticipate, it will not be discovered until after consumers are using the product. Early failure rates for hip replacement products are one of the main reasons consumers filed lawsuits in recent years. Some consumers have claimed manufacturers had or should have had prior knowledge of increased health risks associated with their products. The recent recalls and subsequent consumer lawsuits over Zimmer hip replacements are one such example.

Increased risk with medical part recalls

Returning a faulty hip is not the same as returning a toaster with wiring issues or a car with a design flaw to the place where those items were purchased. When the product that is causing you pain or further injury is inside your body, it creates a whole new layer of difficulty and risk to the consumer.

When your hip joint is worn or damaged, it can affect your mobility and cause pain when moving or resting. Some people suffer from conditions like osteoarthritis or rheumatoid arthritis, putting them at higher risk for needing a hip replacement.

The decision to perform hip replacement surgery is not made lightly by healthcare professionals because they know the risks associated with the surgery and the long recovery process that lies ahead. Recovery from hip replacement surgery takes between two and four weeks. That is only if the patient has no extenuating circumstances or pre-existing conditions that can slow progress.

If a hip replacement involves a defective part that requires removal, repair, or total replacement, patients must start the process all over again. This is understandably upsetting. Every week you are off work for recovery is a potential week without pay. Some employers may provide paid time off for illness and injury and some may not.

Consumers injured by faulty hip replacements should consult with medical, legal professionals in Albuquerque

Personal injury lawyers can help if you are the victim of a faulty hip replacement part. If you receive notice of a recall or begin to experience issues after you have a hip replacement, contact an attorney experienced in product liability to review your options. It is important to contact an attorney before you make any decisions about how to handle the faulty hip replacement. If you must have revision or replacement surgery to fix the issue, you may be entitled to compensation and other damages. Our experienced product liability attorneys can help ensure you receive fair compensation and treatment throughout the entire process. Call us today at 505-218-7844 to schedule your free consultation.