Seatbelts are an essential, lifesaving safety feature. The NHSTA estimates that seatbelts save tens of thousands of lives each year. The restraining force of a seatbelt can protect a car accident victim from permanently disabling injuries and death. Unfortunately, these life-saving mechanisms can lead to injuries of their own. If you recently suffered harm caused by your seatbelt in a car accident, you may be able to seek damages from the parties responsible. The Pittsburgh personal injury attorneys at Hal Waldman & Associates can demand fair compensation for your injuries, pain and suffering – contact our Pittsburgh office and schedule a free initial consultation.
Types of Seatbelt Injuries
Car accident victims report a range of injuries resulting from their seatbelts. The severity of your injuries will depend on the nature of the accident, force of the impact, and other factors. Some of the most common injuries include:
- Internal organ damage
- Abdominal and chest injuries
- Internal bleeding
Pregnant women and children may experience more serious injuries, especially if they don’t wear their restraints properly. That is why it is so essential for children to wear a five-point harness or seatbelt positioner with booster seat until they reach the appropriate height and weight recommended by your vehicle’s manufacturer.
Even though seatbelts can lead to serious injuries, consider the consequences of not using any restraints. A seatbelt could well be the reason you walk away from a car accident. Still, you may be able to file a claim against the party responsible for these injuries.
Who Caused Your Seatbelt Injury?
Seatbelt injury claims can involve different areas of personal injury law. The following may be responsible for your seatbelt injuries:
- The at-fault driver. All motorists owe a “duty of care” to other drivers on the road. When they violate this duty of care by committing negligence, they may be liable for any damages you incur. Examples of negligence include violating traffic laws – speeding, distracted driving, or failing to provide a safe distance are all examples of behaviors that could lead to car accidents.
- The manufacturer of a defective seat belt. In some cases, a design or manufacturing defect leads to additional injuries or more severe afflictions. Under product liability law, a defect may exist when a safety restraint system did not perform as expected, leading to injury. For example, a seatbelt may fail to lock on impact, or may detach entirely. If this is the case, you may have a case against the manufacturer of the seatbelt.
Contributory Negligence Considerations
Since it’s possible for seatbelts to play a role in a person’s injuries, an at-fault driver’s insurance company may try to use this to their advantage and pass off some of the fault for the accident. Even worse, it may try to argue that your improper seatbelt use played a primary role in the injuries you sustained. Some jurisdictions will hear these arguments, which may affect your right to compensation.
If a jury finds you partially at fault for your injuries, it may reduce your settlement by your degree of fault. If, for example, you seek $100,000 in damages but a jury finds you 10% at fault for your injuries, your award will only be $90,000.
Your Pittsburgh Seatbelt Injury Attorney
Seatbelt injuries are complex cases that may involve personal injury and product liability laws. An experienced attorney, like those at Hal Waldman & Associates, will defend your right to fair compensation under the law and demand fair reimbursement for your material and intangible losses. Contact us today to arrange for a free initial consultation with our firm and learn more about your legal options following a car accident.