Seatbelts save lives. We have all heard the statement over and over again. Many states have mandatory seatbelt laws because research shows that wearing a seatbelt can reduce the risk of serious injury or death in a car accident.
However, seatbelt injuries are common after an auto accident. A seatbelt that functions correctly can still, ironically, result in severe injuries. Defective seatbelts can even result in passengers being ejected from the vehicle during an accident.
At Roman Austin Personal Injury Lawyers, our Clearwater injury lawyers have over 75 years of experience handling car accident claims. Since 1996, we have recovered more than $95 million in verdicts and settlements for our clients.
Call (727) 787-2500 or contact our law firm to request your free consultation with one of our car accident attorneys in Clearwater, Florida. We are here to help you when you need a trusted legal advocate to stand up for your rights.
How Our Clearwater Personal Injury Lawyers Can Help You After a Car Accident
Injuries from a car accident can result in debilitating conditions and substantial financial losses. You should not be liable for the damages caused by a negligent driver.
However, recovering fair compensation for your injuries and damages can be challenging. Insurance companies do not look out for your best interest. However, our legal team does.
When you hire our award-winning personal injury attorneys, you can expect us to:
- Investigate your car crash to determine who caused the collision
- File insurance claims and handles all negotiations with the insurance company
- Monitor deadlines for filing personal injury lawsuits
- Work with you and your doctors to document your injuries and damages
- Aggressively fight to recover the full value for your damages
We are strong advocates for injured victims. Call our office to schedule a time for your free case review with a personal injury attorney in Clearwater.
What is Florida’s seatbelt Law?
seatbelt use was up to 90 percent in 2020. According to the NHTSA, seatbelts in passenger vehicles saved an estimated 14,955 lives in 2017. Because seatbelts are effective in reducing injuries and deaths in traffic accidents, many states have passed mandatory seatbelt laws.
In Florida, you must wear your seatbelt while riding in a car. All drivers, front-seat passengers, and passengers under the age of 18 must wear safety belts. The safety belt law became a primary traffic offense on June 30, 2009.
How Do Seatbelts Cause Injuries?
Most seatbelts are three-point harnesses. A belt crosses your lap, and another belt crosses your chest. Both belts snap into a buckle on the side of your hip.
When a vehicle is involved in a crash, the seatbelt tightens, which holds the person in place. The tension prevents the person from being ejected from the vehicle or slamming into the steering wheel or dashboard.
Unfortunately, the sudden stop and the tightening of the seatbelt can cause internal injuries for the occupant. If a seatbelt is not positioned correctly, the risk of injury could be greater. Improper use and defective equipment could also be factors in the cause of seatbelt injuries.
Common Seatbelt Injuries
A seatbelt can cause a variety of injuries. Numerous factors may combine to cause the injury, such as the type of accident, the severity of the crash, the seatbelt mechanics, and the occupant’s physical condition.
Some common seatbelt injuries include:
The impact can cause tremendous pressure on the sternum and ribs. The result could be fractures and bruises to the ribs and sternum. Breathing may be painful as fractured ribs press on the lungs.
Damage to the Heart and Lungs
Internal bleeding and may be caused by fractured ribs puncturing internal organs, including the heart and lungs. Damage to these organs and internal bleeding can lead to life-threatening conditions if not treated quickly.
Back, Neck, and Spinal Cord Injuries
The force of the collision can also put pressure on the spinal column. The result could be ruptured discs, fractured vertebra, and injuries to the soft tissue, tendons, and muscle fibers. Shoulder injuries are also common and may require physical therapy.
The seatbelt can cause abdominal bruising and damage to the intestines. Seatbelt syndrome refers to signs of intestinal injuries after a car crash that might not be obvious immediately following the crash but could worsen and become life-threatening without treatment.
Watch for Symptoms of Seatbelt Injuries
After a car accident, it is essential to watch for symptoms of seatbelt injuries that could be missed. Symptoms of a seatbelt injury include:
- Trouble moving your arms or shoulders
- Chest pain or discomfort that worsens with movement
- Abdominal pain and discomfort
- Severe bruising and swelling in the chest or abdomen
- Difficulty taking deep breaths or breathing
If your chest is sore, seek immediate medical attention. Also, if you have trouble controlling your breathing patterns or feel that your chest is tight, seek emergency medical care.
Seatbelt injuries affect your chest, but they also affect your abdomen. Therefore, if you have trouble going to the bathroom or experience any abdominal pain, you should seek immediate medical care.
As always, it is best to see a doctor as soon as possible after a car accident. Some accident injuries may not present symptoms that are easily recognized except by a medical professional.
Can I Recover Compensation for Seatbelt Injuries?
Yes, you could be entitled to compensation for injuries caused by a seatbelt. If the seatbelt was defective, the manufacturer could be liable for your damages. However, if the seatbelt worked correctly and you sustained injuries because of the car crash, the other driver could be liable for your damages if he caused the crash.
Economic and non-economic damages you could recover include:
- Lost wages
- Medical expenses
- Loss of enjoyment of life or quality of life
- Physical pain and suffering
- Reduction in earning potential
- Mental anguish and emotional distress
A car accident lawyer can review your case to provide a legal analysis that helps you decide how to proceed with your claim.
Schedule a Free Consultation with One Of Our Clearwater Car Crash Lawyers
You do not need to fight the insurance company alone. Contact us for a free consultation to discuss your case. Our Clearwater injury lawyers are here to help you when you need someone you can trust. We are ready to get you the money you deserve after a seatbelt injury.