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Road traffic accident news

Road accident compensation lawyers

Home > Personal Injury > Road Traffic Accidents > Car Passengers > Compensation claims advice - road accidents causing personal injuries by airbags

Compensation claims advice - road accidents causing personal injuries by airbags

Personal injury compensation claims - information and guidance on airbag usage

Road traffic accidents are the most common types of personal injury compensation claims, and many of them involve not just the driver but also the passenger or passengers. In a road traffic accident, some injuries may be caused by the deployment of the airbag itself, but airbags are designed to reduce the risk of more serious personal injury. Their use in conjunction with seat belts and / or child restraints requires care to ensure that the combination results in the least serious of injuries.

If you are unfortunate enough to be involved in a road traffic accident and suffer injuries through inappropriate use or installation of seat belts and / or child restraints with an airbag, you may be entitled to claim compensation for personal injuries.

Of course, road accidents involving children, particularly where there is a fatality, are particularly distressing, and at Clear Answers, our specialist personal injury claim lawyers are very aware of the sensitivity with which these accident claims should be treated. If not fatal, some injuries can result in serious life-changing disabilities and these too need care and thought to ensure the injured person receives the full compensation to which they are entitled.

It is vital in all these circumstances, that the claim for compensation is dealt with thoroughly but speedily so that where necessary, interim payments can pave the way to provide immediate assistance to give as good a quality of life as is possible to the injured party. Our specialist car accident lawyers have a strong reputation for winning substantial levels of compensation in serious personal injury compensation claims.

In accidents involving car passengers, particularly involving children and the use of airbags and seat belts, it can sometimes be the case that the person responsible for the accident, is the driver of the vehicle in which they were travelling. Moreover, this is likely to be a friend or relative of the injured person.

It would be natural in these circumstances to be reluctant to bring a claim for personal injury compensation against a friend or relative. However, in the event that the claim is successful, the compensation would be paid by their insurer, and you should still pursue the claim for your rightful road traffic accident compensation.

If you have been injured in a road traffic accident as a car passenger, or perhaps a family member has suffered a personal injury in these circumstances, please contact Clear Answers on 0800 783 9019 and speak to one of our advisers. We have a team of personal injury lawyers who specialise in all types of road traffic accident compensation claims, particularly car passenger claims, waiting to help you. We will be happy to talk through the claims process with you, in plain English, and provide expert legal advice on whether or not you have a valid personal injury claim.

Alternatively, please complete one of our on-line compensation claims forms if you prefer. One of our representatives will contact you as soon as possible to discuss your claim for personal injury compensation.

Strict time limits apply for making a personal injury compensation claim, so please seek expert legal advice as soon as you think you may have a valid claim for compensation.

Please visit our section on information and advice for more details on making a personal injury compensation claim, or our gathering information and evidence section for details on what to do if you are involved in an accident.

For more information on the use of airbags in various situations, please select one of the links below:

Airbags - operation and safety benefitss

Airbags are designed to minimise injury in the event of an accident. They inflate only when the sensors detect an impact of sufficient severity. This would usually be greater than 20mph and will typically be as a result of a front-end collision. A rear-end collision should not deploy the airbag, as the impact would be less likely to be of sufficient speed.

When the airbag inflates, hot gases are generated which may cause some minor burns to the occupant. Airbags are supported by RoSPA as an aid to reducing personal injuries, but not as a replacement for wearing a seat belt and they should always be used in conjunction with a suitable restraint.

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Airbags used in conjunction with adult seat belts

Airbags are now common in both driver and front car passenger positions, and in some vehicles they are now also installed as protection against side impacts. Research shows that airbags are effective in reducing the personal injuries sustained in a road traffic accident, where the driver or passenger is correctly positioned. It is important therefore, that consideration be given to the positioning of the seats when airbags are fitted. Poor seat positioning may result in serious injuries nonetheless, in the event of a road traffic accident.

Because the airbag inflates so rapidly, sufficient space needs to be available between the bag and the car passenger or driver. If the seat is positioned too far forward, it may affect the ability of the bag to inflate without injuring the person. Information on how airbags work can be found on the RoSPA website.

All drivers and passengers should make sure they always sit squarely in their seat and that they correctly wear their seat belts. To minimise the risk of personal injury, the seat belt should always be adjusted to be as tight as possible across the body. A slack belt will allow the person to move during an impact, and if propelled forward, they will be closer to the airbag when it deploys. They may therefore be at greater risk of personal injury from the bag than the accident itself. There is also a risk of injury if seat belts are old or badly fitted, and subject to stretch in the event of an accident.

Similarly, pregnant women will inevitably be closer to the inflating bag, whether a driver or a passenger. The seat should be pushed as far back as possible to avoid the impact of the inflating bag and the risk of personal injury.

If deployed, airbags should be replaced, and some manufacturers recommend replacing them after 10 years even if they have not been deployed. You should ensure that only parts which have been approved by the manufacturer of your vehicle are fitted.

Current design and research into minimising personal injuries, and the number of accidents resulting in personal injury compensation claims, is looking at the development of smart airbags. These may be able to detect the difference between an adult and a child in a safety seat.

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Airbags used in conjunction with child seats and restraints

Airbags are designed to protect an adult from personal injury during a road traffic accident, so care should be taken when using a child seat in the front passenger seat. RoSPA, who are committed to reducing road traffic accidents and the resulting personal injuries, has produced information that helps parents understand the legal and safety implications when using airbags together with a child seat or restrainer.

Forward Facing Child Seats

Research has shown that the use of forward facing child seats, where an airbag is fitted to the passenger side dashboard, must be viewed with caution. Ideally, forward facing child seats should always be located in the rear of the vehicle to minimise personal injury in the event of an accident. Where this is not possible, make sure the seat is located as far back from the dashboard as possible, and that this takes the child and the child seat outside the airbag deployment zone.

Care must also be taken to ensure both the child and the child seat are firmly secured to prevent movement forward in the event of a collision. Failure to correctly secure either would result in the child seat or the child being propelled into the deployment zone, probably resulting in personal injury to the child.

Rearward Facing Child Seats

Similar research has confirmed that under no circumstances should a rearward facing child seat be used in the front passenger seat, and this is now illegal under the current legislation. Even with the seat located as far away from the dashboard as possible, the risk of personal injury to the child would be very high since the back of the child seat would be too close to the dashboard and therefore within the deployment zone. In the event of the airbag being deployed, it would propel both the child seat and the child towards the rear of the vehicle, possibly causing severe head injury.

The only exception to this is where the airbag has been deactivated although this should be a last resort. It is generally not recommended by manufacturers that this be done as the airbag is designed and installed to reduce the risk of personal injury in the event of a road traffic accident.

Baby or Child Travelling On An Adults Lap

Although the law now forbids an adult to allow a baby or child to ride on their lap, it is worth mentioning that this would significantly increase the risk of the child receiving a personal injury, or worse, in the event of the airbag inflating. This would be the case whether the child was restrained with a secondary belt, or unrestrained, since the child would be within the deployment zone and crushed between the airbag and the adult.

Child Seats Used With Side Impact Airbags

Side impact airbags only deploy a few inches into the cabin of the car. However, to be certain of minimising personal injury, always ensure the child seat is secured centrally and firmly on the passenger seat to ensure it has sufficient clearance in the event that the airbag is triggered.

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Road traffic accidents that we have dealt with

Clear Answers has very many satisfied clients for whom we have won personal injury compensation claims. We have extensive experience in dealing with all types of road traffic accidents, including those involving car passengers. To read just a few examples of our successful compensation claim cases, please go to our Road Traffic Accidents That We Have Dealt With section.

Alternatively, please visit our News Section which is regularly updated with information on personal injury compensation claims and other news items.

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Compensation claims for injuries caused by airbags

If you or a member of your family have suffered a personal injury in a road traffic accident through no fault of your own, contact Clear Answers' personal injury solicitors on 0800 783 9019 and speak to one of our advisors who will be able to assess whether or not you have a valid personal injury compensation claim. Alternatively fill out one of our online compensation claim forms.

Clear Answers’ lawyers are specialists in all types of road traffic accidents. We have teams of experts waiting to help you, should you decide to instruct us to represent you in your claim for personal injury compensation, whether you were in a work related road traffic accident, or one when you were on a personal journey.


Our advisers will be happy to talk to you in plain English, explaining the compensation claim process, and provide you with expert legal advice to answer any questions you may have regarding your personal injury compensation claim.


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