When you get into any vehicle with a seatbelt, you trust the device to keep you safe in the event of an accident. In reality, seatbelts offer limited protection and can cause injury, in some cases. Knowing the difference between injuries that are within reason and those that are the result of a defective seatbelt is important if you have been involved in an accident.
When a seatbelt is designed there are elements which are intended to increase the “crashworthiness” of the device. The term “crashworthiness” refers to the acceptable standard of safety the device provides under testing. Drivers and passengers who wear seatbelts are usually afforded better protection in the case of a crash but the effectiveness of seatbelts in not guaranteed.
When a driver anticipates a crash, there is sometimes an instinctive reaction, which results in slamming on the breaks. Drivers are taught to brake slowly in order to compensate for the power of momentum. The harder you brake, the harder you will be thrown forward; while the seatbelt works to hold you back. The same principle applies if someone crashes into you, causing your body to whip forward and back against the seatbelt.
Common injuries include bruising and abrasions from seatbelts. However, there is also the chance passengers will suffer back injuries. The spine is flexible to a certain point but it is not designed to withstand the violent snapping motion which occurs in a serious auto-accident. The very device that saved your life may also contribute to back injuries that force you to take time off work. Or, in extreme cases, leave you permanently disabled.
You may also experience delayed symptoms from back injuries, such as slipped discs or lumbar spine injuries, as the result of what’s known as hyperflexion over the fulcrum of the seatbelt. If you begin to experience pain, discomfort, and numbness in your limbs or any other symptoms after an accident, you should visit your doctor immediately for consultation.
There are specific groups of people who are at greater risk of suffering back injuries due to seatbelts. A pregnant patient or overweight passenger are vulnerable in a crash, as are small children who are not using a booster seat or other safety device designed to increase the safety of young passengers.
Booster seats that are approved for use for 4 to 8 year olds are a legal requirement. Babies from 1 to 3 years old must also be secured in a car seat that meets required standards. Once a child reaches the height of 4 foot 9 inches, he or she may ride in a vehicle in the same way as an adult.
While back injuries can happen in a collision, sometimes defective seatbelts contribute to those injuries. If you have suffered back injuries, which have cost you work and resulted in considerable medical bills, you may wish to pursue compensation for your injuries from a number of parties, including the at-fault driver and the manufacturer of the seatbelts. Call the offices of H. Lehman Franklin today at 912-764-9616 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org for a free consultation if you need help in determining whether you have a case for claiming compensation.