Seat belts are one of the most critical safety features in a vehicle. These restraint systems are designed to keep occupants inside the car during an accident. A failure of these systems could result in severe injury or death. If you or someone you know has been involved in a vehicle accident due to seat belt failure, the CEO Lawyer Personal Injury Law Firm can help you sort your legal options.
Our personal injury attorneys have the experience and resources to represent you and your family effectively. Call us today for a no-cost consultation so we can evaluate your case and get you the maximum amount of insurance payouts to cover medical expenses and other lost income and property damages, like loss of enjoyment of life. Contact us today at (833) 254-2923or submit an online form to get in touch.
While we want to limit the number of injuries we suffer in a car accident, various auto defects can cause severe and life-altering injuries. One common auto defect is a problem with the lap and shoulder belts. Regardless of the make or model, all cars are equipped with seat belts to protect drivers and passengers during a crash.
The purpose of the shoulder harness is to keep your upper body in place during an accident. During a collision, the chest belt will tighten. The shoulder harness will help prevent your upper body from being thrown around the vehicle. When the car is traveling at higher speeds, even a minor collision can cause a striking force that could cause the occupant to be thrown from their seat. If they are not wearing a seatbelt, they will likely fall on another object in the car or fly through the windshield.
How Defective Seatbelts Cause Injuries
Though seat belts are designed to save your life, they can sometimes cause bodily harm. Seatbelts are designed to protect passengers during collisions. They provide a defense mechanism for your chest and abdomen, essential for surviving a crash with any energy. Unfortunately, seatbelts can also cause injuries if an accident is severe enough. However, belts are only effective when positioned correctly and used properly. When a belt is worn incorrectly or misused, it doesn’t offer complete protection.
Several circumstances can jeopardize the effectiveness of a seatbelt. These circumstances may be external to the vehicle, such as fire or collision with an object, or internal to the car, such as unrestrained occupants or malfunctioning components. That being said, there are instances in which a seatbelt can cause harm.
If you’ve ever been in a severe auto accident, you know that seat belts need to be buckled every time you drive. It takes just a second to buckle up — belt in, lock and forget — but unbuckling and re-buckling your seat belt is a hassle and takes time and effort. However, some drivers don’t buckle their seat belts properly, and some choose not to buckle up entirely or at all. Both of these situations can lead to significant safety problems during an accident. For example:
1. Children wearing Adult Seatbelts
Seatbelts are designed to keep adults safe in car accidents, which means they aren’t made to fit a child properly. As such, if a child wears an adult seatbelt without a booster, they could be at risk of serious injury. In addition, when children use adult-sized seat belts, they can be strangled by the lap belt or even cut by the hard shell of the shoulder belt. For this reason, it’s generally recommended children use a booster seat until they grow into their seatbelt. This keeps the belt in place and off of soft areas of the body, which could be damaged in an accident.
2. Pre-Existing Injuries
Seatbelt injuries can have serious repercussions, ranging from bruised ribs to broken clavicle bones. If you have underlying health conditions, such as osteoporosis or arthritis, or have previously injured your chest or sternum, you are more likely to develop an injury while wearing a seatbelt.
3. Incorrect Positioning
Many people injure themselves because they fail to position their seatbelts correctly. That’s why it’s essential to understand how to wear it correctly. That’s why most modern vehicles have a seatbelt that is height adjustable. If it’s worn too high, you can hurt your neck. Wearing your seatbelt too low can hurt your abdomen. Proper seatbelt use includes correctly positioning the lap belt across your hips, correct placement on the shoulder belt on the torso, on top of your shoulder.
4. Defective Equipment
A seatbelt’s design necessarily involves force and friction — it harnesses the energy created by sudden stops and redirects it throughout the body. Not surprisingly, seatbelts can cause serious injuries when they break or malfunction. A slack seatbelt can cause harm because of the force it unleashes on the collarbone and shoulder during a collision, causing your head to strike an interior side of your car or against your windshield. If a defective buckle contributed to your injury, you may be able to obtain compensation for medical costs, lost wages, and pain and suffering in a product liability case.
5. Defective Car Seats
Seatbelts keep occupants from being flung from the car in a collision, potentially striking the dashboard or windshield. But when auto seats are defective, seatbelts cannot be counted on to protect occupants during emergencies. This is because the seats absorb the force of sudden jolts, lessen shocks, and reduce injuries. Yet, despite their vital role in preventing injuries, auto seats are one of the least regulated items of safety equipment.
6. Manufacturing Defect
A seat belt failure refers to no end of the injury, damage, or even death. When a seat belt breaks or the wrong parts are used, the results can be devastating. The two main types of failure are false latching and inertia unlatching. A faulty latch, also known as a retractor-induced failure, means the occupant is not expelled from the vehicle even though the belt did not lock. Inertia unlatch implies that while the occupant is still in motion, they are thrown forward during an accident due to the belt’s sudden internal mechanism stoppage.
7. Improper Usage
Some people are uncomfortable with the feeling of restraints, resisting all efforts to buckle up. Some buckled up with one shoulder strap or the belt behind them, believing these things make them safer. A passenger in this position doesn’t get due protection. When only the lap belt is used, the shoulder strap cannot separate the head from the torso during a collision to reduce injury. Tucking or completely removing the shoulder harness defeats its intended function.
Even though seatbelts have been proven to save thousands of lives annually, they can also cause catastrophic injuries to people who get into accidents while wearing them.
Common Types of Seatbelt Injuries
Some of the most common types of injuries caused by seat belts include:
- Shoulder injuries: When a person is thrown forward against the shoulder belt during a crash, the belt can injure the surrounding area, resulting in pain and even long-term disabilities. When a seat belt is misused or worn in a way that increases the risk of injury, it can cause pain and inflammation in the shoulder area. The shoulder belt compresses the arm and pulls it forward against the body, forcing the chest guard to push into the shoulder. This can result in tears to the rotator cuff muscles and tendons, increasing pain from wearing the seatbelt.
- Fractured Ribs: When the occupant of the automobile experiences chest trauma, the force of the restraint putting pressure on their rib cage can cause bruising or outright fracturing of some of the ribs along the line of impact.
- Neck injuries: As the head is thrown forward by inertia, it slams into the shoulder belt, causing whiplash and other neck injuries. The shoulder belt causes the head to lag behind the torso, causing the neck to extend. This causes neck injuries if there’s an accident or violent change in the vehicle’s direction, throwing the head forward.
- Abdominal injuries: The body’s organs move with every bump and crash while driving. This can cause internal bleeding or bruising if not adequately protected by a seatbelt.
- Femur fractures: When there are sudden breaks in direction while wearing a seatbelt, it can force the knees into your chest, resulting in fractured femurs that require prolonged recovery time to heal properly.
How can Seatbelt Injury Attorneys at the CEO Lawyer Personal Injury Law Firm Help?
Seatbelts save many lives in car accidents, but they can also cause injuries if not used properly. If you or a loved one have been involved in a car accident in Atlanta that wasn’t your fault, contact the CEO Lawyer Personal Injury Law Firm to discuss your case with our experienced injury and accident attorney. You avoid paying upfront legal fees by hiring us while still getting a team of attorneys who will fight hard to ensure you receive the compensation you deserve.
We have worked on numerous seatbelt failure lawsuits for victims put at risk because of faulty seatbelts and shoulder harnesses. Our firm has recovered compensation for individuals struggling to cope with debilitating injuries resulting from defective seat belts. Our Atlanta car accident lawyers are here to answer all of your questions regarding seatbelt injuries. Call us today at (833) 254-2923 to discuss your case with one of our experienced car accident attorneys.