The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently released study results that suggest seat belts are the most effective safety device for injury and death prevention in motor vehicle collisions. Also supported by the National Safety Council, seat belts have saved a countless number of lives when a traffic crash occurs. Seat belts are designed to prevent serious injuries from occurring during a car crash; however, seat belts have also been known to inflict debilitating injuries to those wearing them.
Seat belt injuries are a complex topic from the beginning. In contrast to what they are designed to do, any injuries suffered as a result of wearing a seat belt seems confusing. In fact, eight in every ten accident fatalities could have been prevented had the passenger occupants been wearing an approved safety belt or child restraint. While all passengers must wear a seat belt to remain safe in the event of an accident, there are certainly a number of damages that these safety belts may cause.
Lewis & Keller has been providing professional legal services to residents all across the state of North Carolina for many, many years. With offices located in Winston-Salem and Greensboro, our personal injury lawyers are able to visit with clients throughout the state. When the negligence of another driver causes injury or harm to an innocent accident victim, we believe that the at-fault party must pay for the damages in which they cause. If you or a loved one has been involved in a crash and suffered seat belt injuries, Lewis & Keller is prepared to take on your case today.
To learn more about your legal options, please fill out a Free Case Evaluation at your earliest convenience.
Types of Seat Belts
While many North Carolina drivers associate a typical lap/slash seat belt with most motor vehicles, there are a variety of seat belt types that motorists may encounter. The various injuries suffered due to these seat belts range depending upon the type of seat belt, the force of impact, and the manner in which the accident victim is wearing the safety belt. In general, there are six primary types of seat belt restraints used in passenger vehicles. The following are the most commonly seen types of seat belts:
Created in the beginning of seat belt design, lap style safety belts are strapped over the waist of the occupant. Lap belts are usually adjustable to allow for the tightening or loosening of the belt.
Like the name implies, sash style safety belts are strapped over the occupant’s shoulder, usually fastened to the “B” pillar of the vehicle. Commonly used during the 1960’s, this particular safety belt design was discovered to have a flaw which allowed for occupants to slide under the belt in certain crash conditions.
These non-automatic seat belts maintain a combination of both the lap and sash style belts. With design securing both the waist and the shoulder, occupants are said to be much safer in this type of safety belt.
The inertia reel is an automatic, more developed version of the lap/sash style safety belt. This seat belt uses a geared mechanism locking belt tension when a particular amount of force is pulling on the belt. Commonly called a “three-point” design, the belt is a solitary, unbroken length of webbing which is still used today. The design of the inertia reel helps to spread the energy felt during the motion of the body in a collision by displacing the force throughout the chest, shoulders, and pelvis. Rollover crashes present the only issue, where passengers sometimes fall out of the safety belt.
Belt in Seat
Designed to fix the issues inherent in the inertia reel, belt in seats is initially a three-point system as well. However, in this type of safety belt, the shoulder attachment is moved to the seat’s backrest, which is said to provide better protection in the event of a rollover accident.
Typically seen in children’s safety seats, race cars, and a variety of other high performance vehicles, five-point harnesses are amongst the most restrictive of safety belts. Often viewed as one of the safest types of seat belts, these are designed so that each side of the lap belt section connects to the center belt, which is then locked between the legs of the occupant. Five-point harness belts provide extensive protection with a belt for each shoulder, all of which prevents movement in the event of a crash.
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Common Seat Belt Injuries
Studies indicate that the unbelted 160 pound passenger occupant involved in a collision where the vehicle was traveling 30 mph would create enough force to fly through the windshield. As such, seat belts play an enormous role in protecting passenger occupants from suffering fatal injuries. While safety belts reduce injury more than they cause injury, there are certainly situation in which catastrophic seat belt injuries are suffered.
Some of the most common symptoms related to seat belt injuries are internal. Therefore, it is absolutely essential for all accident victims to seek medical attention following a crash of any severity. When involved in an accident, look for bleeding, weakness, breathing difficulty, stiff necks, and abdominal pain as the most obvious signs linked to seat belt injuries.
The following are some of the most common seat belt injuries suffered:
- Bone Fractures
- Internal Organ Damages
- Head Injury
- Brain Injury
- Spinal Cord Damage
Accident victims must seek the care of a medical professional following any type of motor vehicle collision. Any type of bruising or lacerations may indicate that internal damage has been sustained, potentially deadly injuries. Therefore, even when injuries seem minor, it is essential for those involved in any type of traffic crash to care for their wounds thoroughly.
The skilled staff at Lewis & Keller is compassionate and knowledgeable personal injury lawyers who know how to handle even the most complex truck, car, and motorcycle accidents. Spending years studying the ins and outs of personal injury law in North Carolina, we understand what it takes to be successful in the courtroom.
To speak with an accident lawyer today, please fill out a Free Case Evaluation form.