About 55 percent of motor vehicle fatalities affect drivers and/or passengers who are not wearing seat belts. In fact, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), passengers wearing a seat belt in the back seat are approximately 44 percent less likely to die than those not wearing a safety belt in the event of a serious car accident. This percentage skyrockets to 73 percent for backseat passengers in sports utility vehicles.
Despite such compelling evidence of their effectiveness, seat belts have ironically also been reported to cause serious injuries in some cases. Injuries caused by seatbelts may include:
- Abdominal injuries
- Blunt bowel trauma
- Bone fractures (in the sternum, neck and/or rib cage)
- Carotid artery injury (The carotid artery is the blood vessel that delivers oxygenated blood to the neck, brain and head. Without treatment, these injuries can lead to a stroke.)
- Injuries to the internal organs
- Internal bleeding
- Pinched nerves
- Spinal cord injuries (which can result in irreversible paralysis)
If you or a loved one has endured a seat belt injury during a motor vehicle accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and losses. The Chicago, IL personal injury attorneys at Pfaff & Gill, Ltd. welcome injured parties to attend a complimentary consultation to learn more about their legal rights and entitlements. We have nearly 20 years of experience getting our clients through the legal process efficiently, and stand ready to investigate your case.
Seat Belt Laws & Child Safety Seats
Laws regarding the use of seat belts and child safety seats vary from state to state and may be classified as either:
- Primary seat belt laws , in which tickets for not wearing a safety belt may be issued without any other traffic violation taking place. Currently, 30 U.S. states, as well as the District of Colombia (D.C.), have primary seat belt statutes. Some of these states include California, Alaska, Florida, Hawaii and Michigan.
- Secondary seat belt laws , in which another traffic offense has to be committed for an officer to be able to issue a citation for not wearing a seat belt. Nineteen states, including Arizona, Kansas, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Utah, have secondary seat belt laws.
New Hampshire is the only state that doesn’t have primary or secondary seat belt legislation. Instead, the state only has primary child passenger safety statutes (covering those younger than 18).
As with seat belt safety laws for adults, those for children will vary from state to state. Even within a given state, the particular laws may vary according to a child's age, weight and/or height. Currently, every state in the U.S., as well as D.C., mandate that children fitting certain criteria be placed in child safety seats. All but three states also require that children who outgrow child safety seats (and who are too small to safely use adult seat belts) be placed in a booster seat.
As of January 2010, only the following five states have laws requiring seat belts on school buses:
- New Jersey
- New York.
By September 2010, Texas will also have laws requiring seat belts on school buses.
Compensation for Seat Belt Injuries
Whether a seat belt injury is caused by a vehicle defect, a car accident, or any other type of negligence, those injured from seatbelts may be entitled to seek compensation for their losses. To find out more information about your specific injury case, contact Pfaff & Gill, Ltd. today.