Seat Belt Injuries
Can I File a Claim for Seat Belt Injuries?
North Carolina Auto Accident Lawyers Explain Your Legal Options
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that seat belts are the most effective safety device in an automobile. Safety belt use prevents thousands of injuries and deaths each year nationwide. Furthermore, the NHTSA estimates that seat belts have saved more than 350,000 individuals across the nation since 1975. However, certain auto defects or improper seat belt use can actually cause additional injuries to motorists during car accidents.
If you sustain injuries in a car crash due to seat belt failure or defects, then you may be able to collect compensation from the manufacturer as well as the at-fault driver. However, do not execute a release for the at-fault driver without speaking with an attorney because that release may conclude any and all claims against other parties. At Riddle & Brantley, our North Carolina auto accident lawyers understand that entire families are often affected emotionally and financially following a collision. Our lawyers will seek to obtain the compensation benefits that you deserve for your personal injuries.
What is required by North Carolina Seat Belt Laws?
North Carolina General Statute 20-135.2A specifically addresses the mandates for seat belt use. As of 2009, all occupants in a vehicle that is equipped with safety belts are required to have the belt properly fastened around the body while the vehicle is in forward motion on a street or highway.
This rule will not apply if the occupant has a documented medical or physical condition that prevents the occupant from wearing the belt. There are penalties for failure to wear seat belts. The driver and front seat passenger face a $25 fine plus court costs. Rear seat passengers face a penalty of $10, but not court costs, for failure to wear seat belts.
Will Failure to Wear a Seatbelt Hurt My Injury Claim?
The simple answer is NO. General Statute section 20-135.2A clearly states that failure to wear a safety belt is not admissible in any civil action for injury from a car wreck. Therefore, the insurance company cannot claim that you should not receive compensation because you failed to use a seat belt.
At Riddle & Brantley, we have dealt with this defense many times and have always prevailed. In addition, law enforcement may not use the failure of a back seat occupant to wear a belt as justification for a stop of the driver of the vehicle.
What are the Different Types of Seat Belts?
The first seat belt was created in the 19th century by an English engineer named George Cayley. However, New Yorker Edward J. Claghorn presented it to America in 1885 and received the patent. The original idea was to secure a person to any type of fixed object while being raised or lowered, like a painter or a workman. The seat belt was not discovered for automobile usage until 1958, when it was thought that it would increase the safety for occupants. Since then, manufacturers have created several types of seatbelts, including:
- Lap belt
- Belt in seat
- Two point
- Three point
- Four point
- Five point
- Six point
- Seven point
Federal law requires all new cars to have three-point seat belts for every seat. These belts include a waist harness and a shoulder sash which buckle near the passenger’s hip. This type of belt configuration distributes the force of an impact over the body while also keeping passengers from colliding with the inside of the vehicle. However, if either band is too loose or defective in any way, then motorists risk organ damage and other injuries in car accidents.
What Types of Seat Belt Injuries May Result from Auto Defects?
A seat belt should fit snugly around the hips and over the shoulder, without cutting into the neck. It should also be sturdy enough to remain intact in the event of a high-speed collision. However, auto defects can sometimes cause safety belt failure. Some of the most common types of seat belt injuries include:
- Chest wounds
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
- Joint dislocation
- Herniated discs
- Internal organ damage
- Neck injuries
- Spinal cord injuries, including paralysis
- Wrongful death
If you have suffered from any type of injury after a car crash, then it is imperative to seek immediate medical attention. This medical attention will ensure all injuries receive proper treatment. Additionally, this will also allow you to have medical documentation of your personal injuries. These can help to prove negligence on the part of the at-fault driver as well as potentially the seat belt manufacturer.
Seat Belt Injuries? Contact Our North Carolina Auto Accident Lawyers Today
If you have ever sustained injuries in a car accident, then you will know how hectic and confusing the scene may be. At Riddle & Brantley, our attorneys understand this feeling and will work tirelessly to obtain the compensation benefits you are entitled to for your losses and damages.
If a car crash has left you with personal injuries and struggling to pay for any expenses, then our attorneys may be able to help you. Contact us today to begin exploring your legal options for a personal injury claim.