In our blog we will try to provide you with general information regarding car accidents, motorcycle crashes, and personal injury cases, as well as updates in important cases and statutes dealing with family law in New Hampshire. This is not to be construed as legal advice. Every case is unique and small facts can make a difference.
Seat Belts & the Injuries They Cause
Most New Hampshire motorists are aware that it has been statistically proven that wearing your seatbelt while operating or traveling in a motor vehicle will save lives. However, wearing your seatbelt by itself does not always ensure the safety of passengers or drivers who are involved in an accident. In some rare instances, the seatbelt itself will create further injuries. The majority of injuries caused by seatbelts is minor, and can even be expected in severe, high impact collisions, seatbelts can cause serious injuries. Today, we’re going to take a look at how these injuries occur, how to prevent them, and when you need to contact a New Hampshire personal injury lawyer. New Hampshire is the only state in the country that does not require a seatbelt for adults.
How Do Seatbelt Injuries Happen?
In an accident, a motor vehicle comes to a sudden and severe stop, which requires the seatbelt to restrain a passenger or driver who is still moving. While seatbelts do indeed save lives when they function as intended and are worn correctly, it is a distinct possibility that a seatbelt could cause injury to a passenger or driver. Depending upon the accident’s severity, overly tight restraints, incorrect placement of the seatbelt over the body, seatbelt malfunctions, or defects in the manufacturer’s design, seatbelts can cause injuries.
Types of Injuries Caused by Seatbelts
Although it depends on the severity of the collision, most injuries caused by seatbelts are classified as minor and involve scrapes and bruises caused by the restraint. In general, seatbelts are responsible for injuries to the spinal cord and abdomen, while the shoulder belt tends to cause injuries to the sternum, neck, and shoulders. On the more severe end of the spectrum, injuries caused by seatbelts include dislocations, fractures, spinal injuries, internal bleeding, and intestinal injuries.
How to Prevent Seatbelt Related Injuries
When it comes to preventing seatbelt related injuries, proper placement is key. According to a report released by the National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration:
§ The shoulder belt should be placed away from the neck and across the middle of your chest.
§ The lap belt should be placed securely below the stomach and across the hips.
§ Even though it might initially feel more comfortable, the shoulder strap of the seatbelt should never be placed under the arm or behind the back.
§ No seatbelt should ever be so loose so that the driver or passenger can move freely about the seat. Neither should it be too uncomfortably tight.
Seatbelt Injuries & Legal Issues
Defective Seatbelts. Many physical injuries that are caused by seatbelts are caused by a defect within the seatbelt’s restraint system. Essentially, this means that the seatbelt did not perform correctly because a mistake occurred during the manufacturing process or because there was a flaw in its design.
The most common examples of seatbelt defects include defective tension detectors or defective latches. A defective tension detector will fail to keep the seatbelt taut once any slack has been removed or may fail altogether to remove any slack in the seatbelt. A defective latch can cause the seatbelt to detach through the angle or force of the collision’s impact.
Insufficient Seatbelts. There have been a considerable number of recent seatbelts that have raised the question of whether or not an automobile manufacturer can be held liable for offering insufficient seatbelts in the design of its equipment or the design of the vehicle of itself. In essence, the complaining parties claim that by only installing a lap belt in an automobile, these manufacturers are making passengers and drivers susceptible to catastrophic injuries, compared with individuals who are jointly restrained by both a seatbelt and a lap belt.
In scenarios where a serious injury can be directly attributed to a malfunctioning seatbelt or a defect in the manufacturer’s design, injured motorists and passengers can pursue a personal injury claim for product liability. The at fault party in this type of personal injury lawsuit can include the distributor, supplier, retailer, or manufacturer of the seatbelt itself, as well as the vehicle in which the seatbelt was installed.
When it comes to establishing liability and proving the existence of a defect, product liability claims can become quite complex. If you or a loved one has been involved in a collision where the seatbelt could have malfunctioned or in which you believe the automobile maker’s failure to offer adequate restraints contributed to the severity of your injuries, it’s time to contact an experienced New Hampshire personal injury lawyer.
This is where our law firm can offer assistance. To discuss the merits of your case and to have your questions answered, please contact us today by email, telephone, or through our website. Your initial consultation is free.
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