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Seat belt Injury: Solicitor sets out the injuries a seatbelt can cause in a car accident and how failing to wear a seat belt can reduce the level of compensation you can claim
Seat belt injury: Find out the types of seat belt injury which can be caused in a car accident, the amounts of compensation you can claim, the effect on the levels of compensation you can claim if you fail to wear a seatbelt in a RTA which was not your fault and how to win compensation from a car manufacturer if your seatbelt has a defect resulting in injury.
Seat belt injury
What type of seat belt injury can be caused in a road accident?
The types of injury which you might suffer if you are involved in a road traffic accident whilst wearing a seat belt include:
1. Whiplash neck seat belt injury
Perhaps the best known seat belt injury from being involved in a car accident is whiplash. Whiplash is a condition caused from the force of your head being thrown forwards and backwards whilst your chest is restrained by a seatbelt. The symptoms a of whiplash injury are caused by damage to your muscles, nerves, ligaments and in the worse cases fractured vertebrae in your cervical spine or neck.
Symptoms of whiplash include: neck pain, shoulder pain, headaches and tingling in your fingertips.
2. Chest, sternum and lung injuries
If you are involved in a high speed car accident or a collision involving a truck or other large vehicle - a seatbelt could well save your life, but also the forces coming to play through the seatbelt can cause serious injuries to your chest, such as a fractured sternum, bruising, burns and sometimes even a collapsed lung.
How much compensation can you recover for a seat belt injury in a RTA?
In the UK - the amount of compensation you can recover for your seat belt injury or any other injury caused in a road traffic accident depends upon the severity of your injury and the part of the body which you have injured.
Your solicitor will instruct an independent medical expert, such an orthopaedic surgeon for whiplash neck injuries, to complete a report which will set out the injuries you have suffered with an opinion as to how long your future symptoms are likely to last. Based upon this report your lawyer can assess the amount of compensation you can claim for your injury.
Click compensation amounts to see examples of how much compensation you can claim for all the parts of your body.
How does not wearing a seatbelt affect the level of compensation you can claim?
If a road accident was caused by the negligence or fault of another driver you will be entitled to claim compensation for all the injuries you suffer.
However, it is the safety law in the UK that all car drivers and passengers both in the front and the back of a vehicle must wear a seatbelt to minimize injury in the event of an accident. It is recognized that injuries in a RTA are far worse if a seatbelt is not worn.
If you are involved in a road accident whilst not wearing a seatbelt you are still entitled to claim compensation, but the amount of compensation you can claim will be reduced by a percentage - typically in the region of 25%.
This reduction is due to a UK legal principle known as "contributory negligence". In other words - you did not cause your accident, but you contributed to worsening your own injuries by failing to look after your own safety as set out in the Highways Code and other road traffic laws.
What happens if you are involved in a car accident and your seatbelt has a defect?
It is relatively rare that seatbelts in car will fail - perhaps more common are child seats failing.
Generally speaking - if your car accident seat belt injury was caused by another driver or road user, it is best to claim your compensation from that driver. If that driver feels that your injuries were contributed to by a seat belt failure it would be possible for you or the driver at fault to include the car manufacturer as a third party. In other words - part of the claim or liability will attach to the manufacturer if proven.
If you suffer an injury simply by the failure of your seatbelt, such as when your car skids on ice and collides with a stationary object. In this accident - there is no one to blame for your car accident, but there is a possibility of making a claim for your injuries if they could have been avoided if your seatbelt functioned correctly. You might have a claim against the manufacturer of the car for a defective product under the area of law known as "product liability".
To succeed in a claim your solicitor would have to show that the seatbelt were defective - an engineer's report might be necessary to prove this.
Seat belt Injury Summary
On this page I have set out the amounts of compensation common types of seat belt injury which can be caused in a car accident, how your compensation can be reduced by failing to wear a seatbelt and the implications of a manufacturer seatbelt defect.
Click seat belt injury to access my website's free online legal help including making a seat belt injury claim.