There’s no doubt about it: Wearing a seat belt is the best thing you and your passengers can do for your safety while riding in an automobile. According to statistics from 2014, seat belts saved an estimated 13,000 lives. Experts note that these safety devices are especially helpful during a high speed auto collision because they prevent ejection and blunt force trauma.
That said, seat belts can also cause injuries in certain situations. Sometimes, seat belt-caused injuries result in liability concerns after an auto accident.
What kinds of injuries do seat belts cause?
Although a seat belt can prevent you from bouncing around the inside of your car during an accident, in the process of doing so, you could also be injured. People who suffer seat belt injuries often complain of the following:
- Whiplash: The head could whip around violently as it will not be stabilized or restrained with the rest of the body by the seat belt.
- Bruising: As the body pulls against the seat belt, bruising could develop.
- Internal bleeding: In extreme cases, internal bleeding can happen.
- Chest injuries: Chest injuries are not uncommon if the body strikes against the seat belt with a lot of force.
- Abdominal injuries: If the lap belt is not properly positioned, individuals may suffer abdominal injuries.
Pregnant women and children are especially at risk of suffering injuries like those listed above because seat belts are not usually sized appropriately to fit them. Pregnant women should always place the hip strap below their bellies for this reason.
It’s important to remember that in most cases, injuries that the seat belts cause are far less severe than what could have happened if the victim had not used a seat belt at all. Even if someone gets seriously hurt by a seat belt, the seat belt could be the only reason why the person survived.
Defective seat belts and financial claims
Sometimes seat belts are defective and this results in an injury. Whether they were defective because of a design or manufacturing problem, the automaker or seat belt manufacturer could be liable for the costs and damages incurred by the injured person.
Common seat belt defects that result in worsened injuries during a vehicle accident relate to:
- The seat belt’s failure to remove slack, resulting in worsened injuries.
- The seat belt’s failure to catch and hold the injured person. This could be a problem with the seat belt’s latch or tension detector.
- A seat belt that detaches from the point where it is secured.
Because seat belts themselves do not cause car accidents, the seat belt manufacturer or automaker will not be the primary defendant after a seat belt related injury. Rather, the manufacturer may be liable for part of the victim’s injuries or damages. Make sure you understand the full scope of your legal options before you move forward with a seat belt injury claim.