Anyone born in the past forty years or so probably does not stop to think about seatbelts as they buckle theirs when they get in the car. They might not realize that vehicles did not always have seatbelts. Also, those seatbelts did not always come with shoulder harnesses.
You probably know that seatbelts save lives, but did you know they can also harm you sometimes? We’ll talk about that in this article since it’s not a bad idea for you to know a little bit about this topic.
How Many People Wear Their Seatbelts in the US?
Before we get into seatbelt injuries, you might wonder how many US residents wear their seatbelts. US residents wore seatbelts 90.3% of the time in 2020. That means a little more than nine times out of ten, someone will wear a seatbelt if they’re driving somewhere or traveling in a car as a passenger.
That’s a reassuring stat since you can just imagine what can happen to you if you hit something with your car and you don’t have a seatbelt on. You can easily go flying through the windshield, and that’s likely a fatal occurrence if you’re going at a decent speed.
Unfortunately, even though wearing a seatbelt can save your life, it can also harm you. Usually, when that happens, you slam on the brakes or hit another vehicle, and your seatbelt locks in place. The designers mean them to do that. However, you might jerk forward suddenly, and the seatbelt can injure you if it doesn’t allow your body any slack.
Whiplash is a common seatbelt injury. Your head and neck whip forward and backward, and you might feel neck pain and stiffness for weeks or even months after that. You might also deal with nagging headaches.
If so, you may need to treat that with pain medication. You might use hot or cold compresses. You may even need a neck brace for a while.
You may have to stay at home and recover if you can’t work, and you can lose some or all of your income that way. You may have a hard time paying your bills.
What Other Injuries Can a Seatbelt Cause?
You also might have to deal with internal injuries that a seatbelt causes. The seatbelt locks you in place, and it squeezes your midsection. You might lacerate or rupture a kidney, your spleen, or your liver.
You can usually recover from these injuries in time, but they’re painful, and in some cases, you might even deal with internal bleeding. Life-threatening injuries caused by seatbelts aren’t all that common, but it’s not impossible.
Much like whiplash, if you sustain internal injuries from a faulty or malfunctioning seatbelt, you can quickly accrue thousands of dollars in medical bills. It might cost that to go for an ambulance ride to a hospital, to pay for X-rays or MRIs, to pay for pain medication, and so forth.
What Can You Do if This Happens to You?
Seatbelt manufacturers should design their products to protect you in a car wreck, not harm you. Because seatbelts have been around for many decades now, there’s no reason you should sustain damages like what we’ve described because a seatbelt malfunctions.
If you sustain harm in a vehicle wreck and feel the seatbelt caused it, you can talk to a lawyer about what happened. Some lawyers do only car accident cases because car wrecks happen all the time. You might seek out one of these attorneys because they know all about these lawsuits.
You can describe the accident, and the lawyer can tell you whether you probably have a case or not. If it seems obvious that the seatbelt caused you harm, there’s a good chance that you can sue the manufacturer.
You can use your injuries to prove what happened. You may need your medical records, including X-ray and MRI results.
You can also see if you can find video evidence that shows what happened during the car wreck. Maybe you can locate traffic camera or store camera footage. You might use eyewitness testimony as well.
The more evidence that shows the seatbelt harmed you, the better the chances that you can get the manufacturer to pay you for it. They might go to trial if they think they can win, but they might also settle out of court if they feel like you have too much evidence for their lawyers to try and fight. They may also want to settle to avoid the bad publicity that might come with a lengthy public trial.
Can You Lose Your Lawsuit?
If you’re thinking about pursuing a lawsuit because a seatbelt harmed you, you have the right to do that. However, you should also understand that you may lose that suit. Your winning is not a foregone conclusion.
You might lose if the seatbelt manufacturer feels that you wore the seatbelt incorrectly, and that’s why it harmed you. Perhaps your child hurt themselves, and the manufacturer feels they didn’t wear their seatbelt the right way either.
If they can establish that you wore the shoulder harness or lap element in a way other than you should have, they might vigorously defend their reputation in court. If that happens, you may not get any money out of the deal. You might also have to pay your lawyer’s legal bills.
That is why, if you plan to pursue a seatbelt injury lawsuit, you should make sure and talk to your lawyer about how you’ll pay them first. You will probably want to go with a contingency payment plan.
That means if you lose, you will not need to pay your attorney anything. You will only need to pay them if they win the case for you. If you lose, you won’t see any money, but you will also not be out any additional funds. That might be the best solution if pursuing this lawsuit variety interests you.