aND BrandPoint — There was a time in the not-so-distant past when seat belts weren’t mandatory in cars. In fact, when cars were first manufactured they didn’t come with safety restraints. The first form of the seat belt was nothing more than a lap belt, which arguably did more harm than good. As the car industry progressed and became more technologically advanced, seat belts with shoulder harnesses became the industry standard, and today, wearing your seat belt is a law in every state in the union.
The statistics show that in 2014 alone, over 13,000 lives were saved by the use of seat belts in car collisions. When you are traveling at high speeds, seat belts might hold you in place so you aren’t ejected from the car, but they can also cause damage when they restrain your body in a collision. The car comes to a sudden stop, but due to inertia, your body does not. That can mean that you suffer damage from the seat belt itself. Possibly the lesser of two evils, it is better to have some bruising than to find yourself projected through the windshield.
The fact that at times seat belts can do more harm than good might make you question whether wearing it was a blessing or a curse. In those instances when they contribute to your injuries rather than protect you, you might be able to sue the seat belt manufacturer in a personal injury suit.
Examples of the injuries you can sustain from seat belt use
When your body is stopped suddenly and restrained by a seat belt, there will likely be great force placed upon your body, and there is the potential that it can harm you. Depending on how fast you were going, injuries like the following can come from using a seat belt:
- Abdominal injuries
- Internal bleeding
- Chest injuries
Pregnant women and children are at the highest risk for seat belt injuries, especially if the belts aren’t worn correctly. If a woman wears a seat belt that is strapped around the middle of her stomach instead of just underneath it at her hips, she can suffer a placental abruption — or worse, lose the baby as a result of wearing the seat belt improperly.
The car accident would be far worse, though, if you didn’t have anything restraining you when you were in the collision; just be sure you wear it as intended and according to seat belt instructions, especially for vulnerable car occupants.
When the seat belt may be liable
There are instances when the seat belt can cause undue harm in an accident. If there is a defect in the design or the manufacturing of the car seat, then any resulting injuries might be the liability of the manufacturer. If the seat belt fails to operate appropriately, the resulting injuries would be subject to product liability. Examples of this would be if the seat belt failed to catch due to tension malfunction or if it failed to remove too much slack and made injuries worse.
Making a product liability claim requires that you hire a car accident lawyer in Boston, and have specific evidence that the injuries were due to malfunction of the seat belt, and that the injuries were not just a result of the accident itself.
Contributory negligence issues
Incorrect seat belt placement can contribute to injuries in an accident. Although the seat belt wearer wasn’t wearing it properly, they may bring a suit against the seat belt manufacturer for contributory negligence. That means that although the seat belt might have saved them from more harm, if they wore it properly and it harmed them, they might only be partially to blame. Some jurisdictions would allow for the argument of contributory negligence if the seat belt causes harm if it was worn properly and as instructed.
If you are injured in a car accident and you believe the seat belt was to blame, make sure to hire a lawyer to determine if the seat belt malfunctioned, or if the seat belt contributed to your injuries although it was worn properly. Hiring an accident lawyer who specializes in seat belt injuries is the best way to know for sure who is liable.
For aND BrandPoint , I’m Max Zachary.
Cover image: CBSNews.com.