According to a research report from the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration, seat belts save approximately 13,000 lives in the United States each year. Furthermore, the NHTSA estimates that 7,000 U.S. car accident fatalities would havebeen avoided if the victims; had been wearing belts. While seat belts do, occasionally, contributeto serious injury or death, safety experts agree that buckling up dramatically increases yourchances of surviving an accident. Consider the following (as reported by James Madison University):
- Motor vehicle crashes are the leading cause of death among people age 44 and younger and the number one cause of head and spinal cord injury.
- Approximately 35,000 people die in motor vehicle crashes each year. About 50 percent (17,000) of these people could be saved if they wore their safety belts.
- For every one percent increase in safety belt use, 172 lives and close to $100 million in annual injury and death costs could be saved.
- Safety belts when used properly reduce the number of serious traffic injuries by 50 percent and fatalities by 60-70 percent.
- Safety belt use is one of the best defenses against the unpredictable actions of the drunk drivers.
- Of every 100 children who die in motor vehicle crashes at least 80 would survive if they were properly secured in an approved child safety seat or safety belts.
It is sometimes difficult to fathom that a piece of fabric can be a vital difference between life and death, but the evidence is overwhelming that a seat belt is your first, best defense against injury and death in an auto accident.
As to the small number of deaths that result from the use of seat belts, it is unclear how many of those injuries or deaths result from human error as compared to manufacturer defects. However, it is imperative that we understand seatbelt design and defects and how to use this knowledge to keep us and our loved ones safe. So how do we do this?
- Stay current on seat belt laws and recalls. If your vehicle has a seat belt recall (or any recall), have it fixed immediately.
- Check seat belts regularly for damage, wear and tear, or other problems.
- It is important to be aware of the most common causes of failure and use your best efforts to correct them. Make sure you are wearing your seat belt properly. The sash goes from the center of your shoulder and across your chest to your waist. It is important to check the seat belts carefully for damage that can occur over time, such as torn webbing. Equally important is checking the “retractor” which locks the webbing and holds you in place if an accident happens.
- Is your seat belt latched securely? Seat belts may come un-latched in high-impact auto accidents. This is known as “inertial unlatching” and occurs when a seat belt releases by itself from the impact of the collision. This can happen when the latching was not fully engaged in the first place or as a result of inadvertent contact by the occupant or a component of the vehicle. The seat belt looks and sounds like the latch clicked into place, but the release is not completely engaged or not at all. In an accident a falsely latched buckle will completely release the latch plate. When this happens the occupant is essentially unbelted and unrestrained. It is important to tug on the seat belt a few times after securing it.
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured or a loved one killed in an auto accident in which you believe the seat belt buckle failed to hold or it unlatched and opened during the collision, thereby causing greater injuries or death, you may be entitled to compensation for your injuries and losses. It is important to contact an attorney that specializes in auto accident litigation and/or defective seat belt cases. If you need assistance locating an attorney, Lawsuit Financial has built relationships with auto accident attorneys all over the country; we would be happy to assist you in locating a specialist in your area. This is a free service.
These lawsuits are hard fought; they sometimes take years to settle. What do you do if you have medical and household bills? What do you do if you are out of work due to temporary or permanent injuries, or worse, how do you handle funeral expenses? Do not settle your case too early and for too little. Lawsuit funding is a service that provides financial support for injury victims and their families while they await settlement or other resolution of their cases. Funding is usually absolutely contingent upon case recovery; if you do not recover money in your lawsuit, the funding is free; you do not have to pay it back. Your attorney will probably know who to call; ask for a referral today.
Attorney, certified civil mediator, and award-winning author of the Zachary Blake Betrayal Series. Mark Bello is also a member of the State Bar of Michigan, a sustaining member of the Michigan Association for Justice, and a member of the American Association for Justice.