When car companies advertise the safety of their cars, they often show a crash-test dummy saved from smashing into the steering wheel by seatbelts and airbags.

Both can save your life if you are in a crash. But that doesn’t mean you won’t get hurt in a wreck—you aren’t in a movie.

Seatbelts and airbags can leave you with significant and lasting injuries, even when everything goes right. Neck, back, shoulder, and hand injuries are all common after an accident.

Seatbelt Injuries

“Click it or ticket.” Colorado requires drivers and passengers to wear a seatbelt. They keep drivers and passengers from slamming into the dashboard or being thrown from the vehicle in a crash. But to do that, the seat belt digs into a person’s lap, hip, chest, and collarbone to secure the person. It saves your life; it isn’t pleasant:


Seat belt injuries can range from painful bruises to severe contusions, friction burns, lacerations, and broken bones. These injuries can have lasting effects on a person’s life.

Seatbelts do not, however, help secure your head or neck during a crash. All of the force from a crash will whip your head around and put tremendous strain on your neck and back. That whipping motion can also cause a traumatic brain injury—even if you do not hit your head during the crash.

Airbag Injuries

Like seatbelts, airbags save lives. But when you hit an airbag, it is not like a bouncy castle. Airbags have to “explode” out to be deployed before you slam into the steering wheel or another part of the car.

When that happens, they may also cause painful bruising, abrasions, friction burns, broken bones, traumatic brain injury, or neck injuries. Also, the chemicals released when the airbag deploys can irritate a person’s lungs and skin, causing breathing problems and burns.

Airbags do not always work correctly, and the result can be lethal. One manufacturer’s airbags have been known to send shrapnel into the face and neck of a driver.

Get Help

Getting medical help immediately after a crash is important. Getting legal help to protect your interests can be just as important. If you have been in injured in a wreck from the seatbelts and airbags, find a lawyer you can trust.