Austin Seatbelt Injury Lawyer
Seatbelt injuries after a car accident can be painful and debilitating. They can be costly. Fortunately, compensation might be available if someone else caused you to get hurt. The Austin car accident lawyers at Lorenz & Lorenz, LLP can help you fight to secure a meaningful and substantial monetary award.
Please contact our Austin, TX law office to learn more. We offer a free initial case assessment, so don’t hesitate to give us a call or connect with us online to get started today.
I Thought Seatbelts Prevented Injuries and Saved Lives?
They do. Seatbelts are perhaps the most important safety feature in your car. Ever since the modern seatbelt was introduced back in the 1970s, the number of serious car accident-related injuries and deaths have declined significantly.
In fact, by wearing a seatbelt in the front seat of a passenger car, you are:
- 50 percent less likely to suffer a serious injury, and
- 45 percent less likely to die
if you are involved in a motor vehicle accident.
Studies suggest that seatbelts offer even greater protection for occupants of light trucks. Wearing a seatbelt can reduce the risk of serious injury and the risk of death by 60 percent and 65 percent, respectively.
However, seatbelts can and do cause some injuries.
Why Do Seatbelts Cause Injuries?
Before we understand how seatbelts can cause injuries, it’s important to know how they work. Today, modern seatbelts create a three-point harness. There’s a lap belt (which is intended to sit across the thighs) and a torso belt (which is designed to lay across the clavicle, chest wall, and superior pelvis.
When a car’s momentum changes suddenly, the seatbelt tightens around the body, holding it in place. But, it does more than tighten. The seatbelt also distributes the energy of the crash. When the seatbelt is worn properly, that energy is distributed to the strongest parts of the body or those least susceptible to injury.
Most seatbelt injuries are a consequence of improperly fitting or improperly worn seatbelts. When a seatbelt doesn’t fit right or isn’t worn as designed, the belt can tighten around parts of the body that are soft and vulnerable.
Certain Factors Can Increase the Odds of Suffering a Seatbelt Injury
Seatbelts reduce serious injuries and save lives. However, there are times when seatbelts can cause injuries, as well. This most typically occurs when:
A Child is Using an Adult Seat Belt: Seatbelts are designed to protect adults. That’s why children are required to use certain adaptive safety devices when riding in the car. This includes car seats that are outfitted with special five-point harnesses and, when they’re older, booster seats. When a child uses a regular seatbelt without adaptive measures, the belt probably won’t fit properly. The torso belt tends to sit along the neck, and the lap belt presses against the abdomen. When the belt tightens during an auto accident, the child can sustain severe or not fatal seatbelt injuries, as a result.
The Passenger Has Underlying Health Conditions: The torso belt is designed to tighten against the clavicle, chest wall, and superior pelvis. These are strong, rigid bones and structures that should be able to handle the pressure of the belt. When a passenger suffers from certain health conditions – such as osteoporosis or brittle bone syndrome – the force of a tightening restraint could bruise or fracture these bones.
The Passenger Has Been Injured Before: Passengers who have suffered fractures to their ribcage or clavicle in the past might be more susceptible to seatbelt injuries.
The Seatbelt or Vehicle is Defective: Seatbelts are only effective when they are worn properly and function as designed. However, there are times when seatbelts suffer from a defect. For example, a seatbelt might be stuck in a “locked” position and not tighten upon impact. This could cause a seatbelt-related injury and cause the passenger to suffer other car accident injuries, as well.
We Handle All Seatbelt Injury Cases in Austin
There are many different types of injuries that seatbelts can inflict. At Lorenz & Lorenz, LLP, our attorneys represent clients who, after being involved in a motor vehicle accident, sustained seatbelt injuries that include:
Bruised or Broken Ribs: The force of a tightening seatbelt puts a lot of pressure on the chest wall and ribcage. This can cause the ribs to bruise or, in some cases, fracture, especially when the force of impact is high.
Broken Clavicle: The clavicle, or collarbone, absorbs a lot of the energy from a collision. The force of the seatbelt can cause the clavicle to fracture, especially in passengers who have broken their collarbone before.
Soft Tissue Injury: Even when a seatbelt is positioned properly, it can put a lot of strain on the shoulders. If the shoulder is stretched or extended abnormally, the muscle and tendons inside can become damaged.
Internal Injuries: There are two primary ways that a seatbelt can cause internal injuries. The first is if the seatbelt causes the ribs to break. When the ribs fracture, they can turn inward and do considerable damage to internal organs (e.g., heart, lungs, diaphragm) and/or tissue. Second, seatbelts, when not positioned properly, can tighten around softer parts of the body. This can result in internal organ damage, lacerations, and significant internal bleeding.
Seat Belt Syndrome: Seatbelt syndrome refers to an injury where you experience visible external trauma and suffer internal injuries, as well. Most often, this syndrome involves hard-to-diagnose and potentially life-threatening injuries to the intestines.
Back and Disc Injuries: A passenger’s back can twist and move in unusual ways when a seatbelt tightens around the body during a collision. This can cause discs in the spinal column to bulge or herniate.
Cuts, Abrasions, and Lacerations: Seatbelts can cause external trauma to the body, often resulting in cuts, lacerations, and abrasions. Sometimes victims experience a burn-like injury on the skin as a result of rubbing. These injuries, while relatively minor, can be painful and lead to infection if not treated promptly.
Give our Austin law office a call today to find out how our legal team might be able to help you pursue compensation for your seatbelt injuries after a crash. We’ll stand up to insurance companies on your behalf and fight to get you the money you deserve.
Who’s Liable For My Seatbelt Injuries After a Car Accident in Austin?
You’ve buckled up to avoid injury and stay safe. Even though the belt was worn properly, you’ve been injured, anyway. Some of your injuries have been caused by your seatbelt. Who is financially responsible? It depends. In Texas, anyone who contributed to your accident or injury could be on the hook. This might include:
- The driver of your car
- Other motorists on the road, including motorcyclists and truck drivers
- Bicyclists or pedestrians
- Employers of negligent parties
- Bus drivers
- Transit companies
- Government agencies, or
- Vehicle or seatbelt manufacturers.
What if you weren’t wearing your seatbelt properly? What if it wasn’t positioned correctly or if part of it was tucked behind your back? There’s a chance that you could still recover compensation. However, since you have a duty to mitigate your injuries, you might not be entitled to 100 percent of your crash-related damages.
In Texas, you can recover a percentage of your damages if you share some (but less than 51 percent) of the blame for your injuries. So, as long as the fact that your seatbelt wasn’t worn properly is only a minor contributing factor to your injuries, you can probably still be compensated by other parties who were involved in your crash.
How Long Do I Have to File a Lawsuit After I’m Injured in an Austin Crash?
It depends. Typically, the statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits involving a car accident is two years. However, you could have more or less time to act, depending on the specific circumstances of your personal injury case. For instance, you would have less time to file a claim if you believe that the government is responsible. You could have additional time if your injuries weren’t evident right away.
Keep in mind that you’ll forfeit the right to recover any money at all if you miss the statute of limitations that applies to your case. The best thing you can do to protect yourself is by giving our experienced Austin personal injury lawyers a call as soon as you can after you get hurt.
Austin Car Accident Seatbelt Injury Lawyers Fighting For You
When you or a loved one suffer a seatbelt injury in a wreck in Austin, do not hesitate to call Lorenz & Lorenz, LLP for help. You could be entitled to compensation for your medical bills, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Our experienced personal injury attorneys can help you fight to get every last dollar you deserve.
Our law firm offers a free consultation, so give us a call to schedule a time to sit down with our team today.