Though they save lives, seat belts may cause injuries in certain cases. If you have ever been involved in a car wreck, the sensation of a seat belt tightening across your torso hurts. However, a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration report estimates that nearly 12,000 Americans survived accidents because they wore seat belts in 2011.
If you suffer injury despite taking the proper precautions to wear your seat belt, or if your seat belt is defective and caused your injuries, you may be able to explore taking legal action against a manufacturer or other party that acted negligently, such as the at-fault driver.
How a Seat Belt Causes Injury
Seat belt injuries may be influenced by the part of the belt or the type of belt that caused the harm. Injuries to the abdomen may be more likely to result from lap belts, while injuries to the shoulder, neck and sternum may result from ineffective or defective shoulder belts.
Seat belt injuries may extend to injuries that result from inadequate protection, like a seat belt that breaks during an accident, failing to restrain your body. This could allow your face and head to strike the steering wheel and dashboard, or in some cases accident victims may hit or pass through the windshield.
Your injury may depend on several conditions, such as:
- Whether you placed the seat belt properly
- Manufacturer error or too tight restraints
- The angle and speed of the accident
Liability for Injuries Related to Seat Belts
These factors may ultimately influence who is liable for these injuries, or whether another party is liable at all. Some things to consider when examining your seat belt injuries are whether you correctly secured your seat belt.
For example, putting the shoulder belt behind your back could prevent the seat belt from doing its job and could lead to serious injuries if you aren’t properly restrained. In this case, you may be liable (or at least partially liable) for your injuries because you did not use your seat belt in the appropriate manner.
An expert familiar with seat belts and their manufacture can help determine if the belt was defective and if the manufacturer is therefore liable. There may be material concerns as well as concerns about improper installation.
If the seat belt was inadequate, the manufacturer may be strictly liable for the damages the product causes even if the manufacturer did not act negligently. If the manufacturer installed the seat belt incorrectly – or if another party did – it may be liable based on its negligence.
In many cases, though, the negligent driver who caused your accident is responsible for damages related to your injuries, even if those injuries are related to wearing a safe and effective seat belt. Indiana is a fault-based insurance state, so drivers injured in wrecks can file a claim with the at-fault party’s insurance company and may pursue a lawsuit if necessary to recover fair compensation.
If you have medical payments coverage, you may file a claim with your own insurer regardless of fault, but may also pursue a liability claim against the at-fault driver.
If you suffered injury in a car accident in Indiana area, call Hensley Legal Group at (317) 472-3333 or fill out our contact form to set up a consultation so you can discuss your case and legal options.