When Your Seat Belt Fails to Keep You Safe

Car seat belt

If you or a loved one was injured as a result of a seat belt, you may be eligible to recover compensation for injuries, medical expenses, pain, and suffering.

While automobile manufacturers design vehicles with safety in mind, product defects can occur with seat belts, airbags, door latches, and brake equipment. When this happens, the safety equipment cannot adequately protect drivers and passengers. This malfunction can ultimately result in severe injury or death.

Seat belts can also cause injury when they are working. It is so common that the term “seat belt syndrome” is used to describe such injuries. Seat belts do not change the amount of force that occurs in an accident, but they do modify how that force is distributed. This distributed force is pushed upon the driver or passenger, which can then result in substantial injury.

In both scenarios, the injured parties have a right to seek compensation for their pain, medical expenses, and lost wages.

What You Need to Know About Seat Belt Syndrome

Since their first motor vehicle usage in 1964, seat belts have prevented numerous deaths. Unfortunately, they have also caused significant physical harm. The sheer force of impact with an car accident and seat belt restraint can produce a host of injuries that range from bruising and abrasions to abdominal injuries and vertebral fractures.

The three-point seat belt harness rests on an adult’s shoulder, chest, and abdomen. When an accident occurs, the seat belt can transmit significant force. Seat belt injuries result from the force being redistributed from the restraint to the driver or passenger of a vehicle.

Seat belt injuries can be both severe and life-threatening. Injuries include blunt force trauma to the neck, chest or abdomen, as well as, skin abrasions, bruising, bowel and mesenteric injuries, and fractures of the lumbar spine. Injuries can also occur with internal organs like the liver, spleen, pancreas, or kidneys.

When the seat belt impacts the neck, a physician may even discover a cervical vascular injury, cervical spine fracture, or clavicle fracture. Thoracic injuries such as a sternal fracture, rib fracture, or pulmonary contusion occur as well.

If you are a victim of seat belt syndrome, you can file a claim and your monetary damages could be substantial.

What You Need to Know About Seat Belt Failures

There are many different types of seat belt failures and a wide variety of personal injuries that result from these equipment failures. Common seat belt equipment failures include:

  • A fastened seat belt becomes unbelted during the car crash and the individual collides with a windshield, door window, steering wheel, or dashboard
  • A fastened seat belt becomes unbelted during the car crash and the individual is ejected from the vehicle
  • A seat belt has too much slack at impact and the wearer collides with a windshield, door window, steering wheel, or dashboard
  • A seat belt is torn on impact and the wearer collides with a windshield, door window, steering wheel, or dashboard

When an equipment failure happens, injuries result. This negligence will open up the manufacturer to product liability litigation because the injured party has a right to seek monetary damages for pain and suffering, medical expenses, property damage, and lost wages. If death occurs, the victim’s love ones have a right to seek compensation for wrongful death.

In both scenarios, it is critical to seek the advice of an experienced personal injury attorney.

What to Do After an Accident

First and foremost, seek medical attention.

If you have sustained an injury as a result of your seat belt, the ER doctor will take a complete history that includes information on the usage of seat belt restraints, airbag deployment, vehicle speed, your location in the vehicle, and any pain you are feeling. This will help the doctor assess visible injuries, but also discover internal injuries that are not easily found in an initial evaluation.

It is important that you make a police report on the accident, document your accident and injuries, obtain copies of your medical report, and you take photos of your visible injuries.

Why You Need an Experienced Lawyer

Car accidents are scary and they can leave injuries that can last a lifetime. Personal injuries stemming from a seat belt can range from minor issues to catastrophic or life-changing injuries.

No matter what type of injury you’ve suffered, it is important to seek representation from an experienced lawyer who understands the complexities of personal injury and product liability lawsuits.

As an experienced attorney, I understand what it takes to manage a successful injury claim, and I will take immediate action to protect you, enforce your rights, and get you compensated for your injury.

If you or a loved one has been injured by a seat belt, call me at 832-797-7600 for a free legal case evaluation. This initial consultation is absolutely free, and it will help you understand your rights and the merits of your case.

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Gregg S. Harrison has been practicing law in Texas since 2001. He focuses on cases involving all types of accidents, product liability, personal injury, and premise liability. Mr. Harrison is also an experienced family law and estate planning attorney. He is dedicated to helping clients through extremely stressful situations.