Seatbelts save lives, of that there is no doubt. Information available from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicates that approximately 50% of individuals who lost their lives in vehicle accidents in 2021 were unrestrained. However, seat belts do not lead to risk-free scenarios. Unfortunately, these lifesaving safety devices can also cause injuries of their own when an accident happens.
Most Common Seat Belt Injuries
Seat belts are fairly simple restraint systems that save lives, but injuries can occur when an impact happens. The level of injury will depend on several factors related to the incident, including:
- The speed of the vehicle(s) at the time the incident occurs
- The location of the seat belt on a person’s body
- Whether or not the seat belt was defective or malfunctioning
Injuries resulting from seat belt usage are expected if an accident occurs. The idea is that the injuries sustained as a result of a seat belt are less severe than the injuries they prevent. However, some of the injuries that can be expected caused by a seat belt include:
- Bruised or broken ribs
- Soft tissue injuries
- Torn muscles or tendons
- Internal bleeding or organ damage
- “Seat belt rash” similar to road rash
Many of the injuries associated with seat belt usage are not immediately apparent right after an accident occurs. Sometimes, as with other types of accident injuries, seat belt injuries are delayed by hours or even a day or more after the incident. We strongly encourage any crash victim to go to the doctor right away, even if they do not feel much pain right after the incident.
Tips for Reducing the Risk of Seat Belt Injuries
The NHTSA offers some tips for reducing the chances that a seat belt will cause an injury. However, please understand that there is no way to completely prevent seat belt injuries. Again, the idea is to prevent more severe injuries through seat belt usage, not prevent all injuries from occurring. Some of the main ways to increase seat belt safety include:
- Ensuring the lap belt and shoulder belt are secured across the pelvis and rib cage
- Placing the shoulder belt across the middle of the chest and away from the neck
- Making sure the lap belt goes across the hips and not the stomach
- Never putting the shoulder belt behind the back or under an arm
If a seat belt does not automatically adjust for a driver’s height, then drivers should manually adjust the seat belt up or down with the lever located on the upper portion of the shoulder strap.
Working With an Attorney After an Accident
If you or somebody you care about has sustained a seat belt injury in a vehicle accident caused by the negligent accident of another driver, please reach out to an attorney today. You may be able to recover compensation not just for your seat belt injuries but also all of your losses resulting from the vehicle accident. A Phoenix car accident lawyer may be able to help you recover compensation for your medical expenses, property damage bills, lost income, and pain and suffering damages.