Wearing a seat belt does save lives, but it does not necessarily mean you will walk away with no injuries. In some cases, while rare, seatbelts can even cause injuries on their own. Most of these injuries are minor, but there are some cases where seatbelt injuries can be severe—and even life-threatening.
How a Seatbelt Causes Injury
During a collision, a vehicle comes to a jerking stop. The seatbelt then restrains the passengers and drivers to keep them from moving. The seat belt prevents a person from going through the windshield or even hitting the dashboard, but that seatbelt may cause injuries.
Depending on how tight the restraint was or if the seatbelt malfunctioned, you could have multiple injuries.
Types of Injuries Associated with Seatbelts
Most of the injuries people sustain with seatbelts are minor and rarely need medical care. They can consist of bruises and scrapes on the chest and shoulders.
Lap belts are more common for severe injuries, including those to the abdomen and spine. Shoulder belts are often associated with injuries to the sternum, neck, and shoulder.
If a person is already injured, the seatbelt could increase that injury such as creating fractures, internal bleeding or dislocating.
Proper Seatbelt Placement is Key
Often an injury from a seatbelt occurs because of improper seatbelt placement. Some things you can do to prevent a seatbelt-related injury include:
- Ensuring the shoulder belt is placed across the middle of the chest and not near the neck.
- Place the lap belt firmly across your hips, but not your stomach.
- Do not put the shoulder strap behind your back ever or even under your arm.
- No belt should be too tight while driving or too loose that you can move around freely.
Getting Compensation for Your Seatbelt Injury
To decide who is at fault, your attorney will need to decide what caused the seatbelt injury to you. Some ways you may be able to recover damages include:
- Suing the manufacturer for defective seatbelts – this is especially true if they did not work or pulled too tight at the moment of impact.
- Suing the manufacturer for insufficient seatbelts. When seat belts malfunction and the design is clearly flawed, you may have a case.
- Suing the other driver for causing the accident. If the seatbelt did what it was supposed to, but you were still injured, then you may be able to seek compensation from the party that caused the accident.
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