Seatbelt Injuries

Knowledgeable Car Accident Lawyers Helping Chicago Residents

Seatbelts save accident victims' lives. The restraint imposed by a seatbelt can reduce the risk of fatal injuries caused during a high-speed crash. It can prevent the restrained person from being ejected from the car or reduce the injuries from blunt force trauma. However, wearing a seatbelt does not guarantee that an accident victim will walk away unscathed from a crash. Sometimes injuries arise as a result of the seatbelt. If you suffer seatbelt injuries in a car accident, you should contact the Chicago car accident attorneys at Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Eagle, Johnson & Bareck.

Liability for Seatbelt Injuries

If your body has been restrained by a seatbelt and experiences a jolt of force, there is the potential for bodily harm. The seatbelt keeps you from being thrown out of the car, which is crucial, and it can also reduce some movements that could cause serious injuries. However, the seatbelt can also contribute to injuries such as abdominal injuries, whiplash, bruising, chest injuries, or internal bleeding. If you are pregnant, you can suffer even more serious injuries, particularly if the seat belt is not appropriately worn. For example, if you are pregnant and have your belt strap wrapped around your stomach instead of across your hips, you could suffer a placental abruption. A child can suffer especially serious injuries as a result of an improperly worn belt.

Usually, in car accident cases, a driver’s lawyer must establish the negligence of another driver. This involves showing by a preponderance of the evidence: (1) the defendant's duty of reasonable care, (2) a breach of the duty of reasonable care, (3) causation, and (4) actual damages. A breach of the duty of reasonable care can occur in many different ways. For example, a driver who speeds and weaves through traffic, such that he collides with another car, will probably be found to have breached the duty of reasonable care. Similarly, a driver who texts while he is driving and drifts into oncoming traffic will also likely be found to have breached the duty of reasonable care.

However, in some cases, one's seatbelt worsens injuries or contributes to them. Depending on the particular facts of your case, you may have a basis to sue the manufacturer of the seatbelt. Seatbelt injuries can be caused by manufacturing or design defects in the seatbelt or in the vehicle. If there are defects, the seatbelt may not operate as it is expected to do and could be a major contributor to the injuries. Issues with a car's latches could result in the seatbelt detaching or not staying tight during the accident. Or the seatbelt could be defective by failing to remove slack after an accident, thereby exacerbating the injuries. In that case, it may be appropriate to join the manufacturer to your car accident lawsuit and include a product liability claim. Product liability claims may be based on strict liability or negligence. Strict liability attaches even if a manufacturer used reasonable care.

Often, defendants, whether they are drivers or manufacturers, try to blame the plaintiff for the accident. A defendant may argue, for example, that a plaintiff was wearing a seatbelt improperly, and this contributed to the injuries. On the other hand, the defendant may argue that a plaintiff's failure to wear a seatbelt caused the injuries. In Illinois, if a defendant can show that you were also negligent, your damages will be reduced by an amount equal to your percentage of fault. If you are determined to be more than 50% at fault, you will be barred from recovering damages. This is one reason why it is so crucial to retain an experienced attorney who will carefully examine all of the contributing causes of the car accident and provide strong representation.

Discuss Your Case with a Car Crash Lawyer in Chicago

If you suffered seatbelt injuries in a crash, you should hire an experienced personal injury attorney. At Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Eagle, Johnson & Bareck, we represent car accident victims in Chicago, Champaign, Quincy, Aurora, Rockford, and Springfield, as well as other areas of Cook, Adams, Sangamon, Champaign, Winnebago, and Kane Counties. You can call us at 312-263-6330 or toll-free at 800-444-1525 for a free consultation.