Seat Belt Injuries

The seat belt is one of the most important vehicle safety innovations ever. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that seat belts saved 13,941 lives in 2016. Upon its widespread introduction into American cars, incidents of ejection plummeted. In fact, buckling up is the simplest and most effective means of surviving a crash, reducing risk of fatal injuries in car crashes by 45 percent and moderate to severe injuries by 50 percent. Use of a seat belt has more dramatic results in a light truck, leading to a decrease in risk of deaths by 60 percent and injuries by 65 percent.

Although the benefits clearly outweigh the risks, seat belts can also cause severe injuries. Drawing on close to 40 years of experience, accident attorney Bill Berenson recognizes the serious injuries that can be associated with seat belt use and helps you recover damages if the vehicle or seat belt malfunctioned.

How do seat belts cause injuries?

Your body travels at the same speed as the vehicle you occupy. When a crash occurs, your car abruptly stops moving in a forward direction. If you were unrestrained, your body would continue travelling at its previous speed until you hit a hard object such as your windshield or the pavement. So if you were driving at 50 mph when your car hit a tree, your car would decelerate to zero while you would continue moving at 50 mph until you hit a hard surface at that high speed.

Seat belts work by snuggling holding your body in place during a crash so that your body decelerates at roughly the same rate as your vehicle. However this is not a perfect system and the retraining devise can put significant pressure on your body and contribute to such serious injuries as

  • Broken ribs and sternum
  • Shoulder injuries
  • Chest injuries
  • Abdominal injuries
  • Internal organ damage
  • Internal bleeding
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Whiplash
What is seat belt syndrome?

Seat belt syndrome describes the injuries to the lower body that may be caused by the lap belt, including bowel perforations, peritonitis, thoraco-lumbar vertebral fractures and damage to the abdomen. Symptoms of seat belt syndrome often do not appear right away and so this serious condition may be initially missed. Even a CT scan may not pick up peritonitis, which is inflammation of the abdominal wall, until days after the crash. In the meantime, the condition may worsen. Follow-up exams are crucial to detect initially hidden injuries.

Seat belt injuries may be worse in children, elderly adults and pregnant women

Children’s smaller frames are at greater risk of injuries from the trauma inflicted by a seat belt. Likewise, seniors are more susceptible to chest and thoracic injuries caused by the shoulder restraint. Pregnant women also have unique concerns for themselves and their babies.

A seat belt can nonetheless save your life. However if the seat belt also exacerbates a preexisting condition, you are entitled to damages for the worsening of your injuries. In personal injury law, a concept called the “eggshell plaintiff” dictates that the defendant takes the plaintiff as he finds him. In other words, he cannot argue that a healthier person would have sustained lesser injuries and, thus his liability should be limited.

Contact an experienced Fort Worth auto crash attorney

Berenson Injury Law supports Texas’s mandatory seat belt law and encourages drivers to buckle up. Our Fort Worth auto crash attorney also helps you recover the maximum possible damages for all of your injuries, including any that we can prove were caused by your seat belt. Schedule your free consultation to learn more.

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