There is no doubt that seatbelts save lives – all statistics show the use of seatbelts has reduced fatalities in vehicle collisions. However, that does not mean they are wholly beneficial. Even when worn properly, seatbelts can cause serious injuries to passengers during a crash, including spinal injuries and ruptured abdominal organs.
It is vital that emergency services on the scene and medical providers later treating someone who was involved in a crash be aware of and recognize the signs of possible injuries from seatbelts. Delayed treatment of such injuries can be especially dangerous, and may be considered a form of medical negligence.
If you or a loved one has been injured by a seatbelt, call a New York car accident lawyer at Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP, at (212) 986-7353 today. The driver responsible for your crash is also responsible for paying for these injuries.
When it comes to motor vehicles, there are three common types of seatbelts:
- Lap belt: This is a simple seatbelt that goes across a person’s lap and clasps either on the side near the hip or in the middle where two pieces come together. This is known as a “two-point” seatbelt because it has two end points. A lap belt without any shoulder support is likely to cause abdominal injury during a collision.
- Sash: Also known as a shoulder harness, this belt goes across a person’s chest diagonally from one shoulder to the opposite hip. This is also a two-point belt, though sashes are typically found as separate seatbelts only in older vehicles. When worn without a lap belt, someone in a collision could slip under the restraint and suffer serious injuries.
- Three-point: These have become increasingly common over the past few decades. They consist of both a lap belt and sash together as one piece, so that it connects at three points: both hips and one shoulder. Injuries from these kinds of seatbelts are less common than any two-point seatbelt.
Different injuries can occur based on the type of seatbelt being worn at the time of a collision. Some of the most common injuries include:
- Spinal damage: Injuries to the spine can occur as a result of wearing a lap belt during a collision. The sudden deceleration in a crash causes trauma to the spine, which can tear soft tissue and even separate vertebrae. If the injury is bad enough, it can cause complete paralysis.
- Abdominal organ laceration: A lap belt can dig into a person’s stomach during a collision with such intensity that internal organs can be ruptured. If left untreated, this can lead to serious internal infections (like peritonitis) and blood poisoning.
- Neck and head injuries: These are most likely to occur when only a sash belt is present, when someone “submarines” or goes under the belt in a collision. The person’s neck or head can get caught on the belt, and serious injuries or fatalities may occur as a result. Neck injuries also occur with three-point seatbelts, depending on how they are designed.
If you or a loved one has suffered a serious seatbelt injury in a crash caused by a negligent driver, you deserve compensation for your suffering. Call Wingate, Russotti, Shapiro & Halperin, LLP, at (212) 986-7353 to talk about your options and determine what you need to do next.