There’s no dispute that airbags do what they’re meant to do – help prevent serious injuries and save lives. The force of a deploying airbag can cause injuries itself. With the exception of the serious injuries caused by defective airbags, most airbag injuries are relatively minor ones, like abrasions.
However, they can cause permanent hearing loss. According to one study, 17 percent of people who were near an airbag when it deployed suffered hearing loss. It should be noted that the study involved cars manufactured by American companies.
The airbags in those cars tend to be larger and more powerful than those in cars made by foreign car companies. The hearing specialist behind the study said that automakers are working on refining airbags so that they provide the same level of safety but without the intense noise that can cause this permanent injury.
Specifically, the hearing loss results from something called a “labyrinthine concussion.” The cochlea in the ear can be destroyed with this type of concussion. Explosives can also cause this type of concussion and subsequent hearing loss.
Unless you’ve been in a vehicle when an airbag deployed, you might not realize just how loud it can be. The “impulse noise” made in those seconds has been compared to that on an airplane taking off. That impulse noise is the kind most likely to cause hearing loss.
If you’ve survived a car crash thanks to an airbag, you’re likely just happy to be alive and seemingly free from serious injury. However, it’s important not to assume that symptoms like hearing loss will resolve on their own. It’s crucial to understand the full extent of your injuries and their effect on your life before you reach any settlement with an at-fault driver or their insurer.