Watch Out for Seat Belt Injuries After a Crash

Seat Belt Injuries

All states, except New Hampshire, require at least front seat passengers in vehicles to wear a seat belt. Research shows that wearing one can save your life in a crash. However, studies also show that seat belts can cause serious injuries.

Safety devices, such as seat belts, work on the premise that they can protect you from a more serious injury that you may suffer if you do not use them. They offer no guarantee that you will not suffer any injury or that you will walk away from a crash with your life. In addition, there is no guarantee that you will not be harmed by the safety device.

If you suffer a seat belt injury, an attorney can help you navigate how to handle it as you bring your personal injury case to court. You’ll need legal representation to seek the proper damages and get a fair settlement.

How a Seat Belt Works

To see how a seat belt could cause you an injury, it helps to know how it works. It may seem like a simple device, but there are key characteristics of a seat belt that enable it to keep you safe. These characteristics may also be what leads to injuries.

A seat belt contains several important parts:

  • Fabric belt
  • Buckle
  • Tongue
  • Retractor box
  • Spool and spring

The fabric belt is what you would probably describe as the seat belt. It lays across your chest and lap. Attached to that is the buckle, which has a button to release the tongue. The tongue is the metal part that snaps the belt into place.

The inner workings of the seat belt are the retractor box, which is where the belt goes when you are not using it. The spool and spring enable you to pull the belt from the retractor box. They also serve a very important safety task. They are what ensure the seat belt locks when it should during an impact.

If any part of the seat belt is not working correctly, it can malfunction. When this happens, it prevents the belt from operating properly. This can lead to injuries in a crash.

Common Seat Belt Injuries

Seat belt injuries can occur to almost any part of your body, but the most common areas impacted are:

  • Ribs
  • Chest
  • Shoulder
  • Abdomen
  • Back
  • Brain

Your ribs, chest and sternum are under a lot of stress when your seat belt locks up due to the belt lying across them. While this is one of the strongest areas of your body, it is not immune to damage. If your seat belt is not sitting correctly or does not lock at the right time, you could suffer from a fracture or other injury to this area.

Your shoulder is another place where the seat belt rests. Again, tightening too soon or too much during a crash can put too much tension on this area and lead to broken bones.

The abdomen is at risk when you do not wear your seat belt properly. Too many people wear it so that it sits over their stomach. Doing this can lead to internal injuries in the stomach and organs in that area of the body.

Often abdominal injuries pair up with spinal injuries due to the location in the body. If the seat belt is strong enough to damage internal organs, then it may also have enough force to cause bruising or other injuries to the lower back and spine.

You may not think about a seat belt as a danger to your brain, but it is. If your seat belt locks too soon, it can whip around your body, including your head. This makes you susceptible to a concussion as your brain would crash against your skull.

Lastly, abrasions and cuts are also common injuries. When your seat belt locks up, it is not uncommon for it to cause bruising and lacerations in the places it is in contact with your body.

About Seat Belt Syndrome and Seat Belt Sign

When you suffer an injury from a seat belt, you may hear professionals call it seat belt syndrome or a seat belt sign. These terms simply refer to marks on the body that indicate a seat belt was likely responsible for injuries.

How To Prevent Injuries

It is not always easy to prevent injuries from a seat belt because the belt can shift in a crash. However, your best chance for avoiding such injuries is to wear your seat belt correctly.

The correct way to wear it is to have the shoulder belt lying directly across your chest. The belt portion should lay across and over your hips, not your stomach.

How an Attorney Can Help

Seat belt injuries can bring about several legal issues. Having an attorney work on your case can ensure you are aware of every potential angle to take with your case.

For your personal injury case, seat belt injuries often tell a story about how the crash occurred and what was happening during the crash. They can become powerful evidence.

If the seat belt malfunctioned, then you might have a product defect case in addition to your personal injury case. You wouldn’t want to miss the chance to hold a manufacturer responsible for making a defective product. If you bring it to the attention of the court, it could help to save other people from the same fate as you by holding the manufacturer responsible to make changes.

In some areas, the other party may be able to use your seat belt injuries against you. They could claim you were using it incorrectly. This would place some fault on you, which, depending on your state, could lead to a reduction in damages. Your attorney will know how to defend against such accusations and ensure they do not harm your case.

Work With an Experienced Local Lawyer

If you’ve been in a car accident and suffered seat belt injuries, then please talk with a local attorney today. Working with someone in your area guarantees he or she will know the applicable laws and be able to assist you with your case. Submit a request online or call us today at (866) 345-6784 to get in touch with an experienced lawyer in your area!

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