Fort Worth Seatbelt Injury Lawyer
While seat belts can be life-saving, they may also malfunction and result in serious or even fatal injuries. Even when the safety device works as intended, it can itself cause significant secondary injuries.
Have you or someone you love been seriously injured in a car accident by a seat belt that was defective or contributed to your injuries? A Fort Worth seatbelt injury lawyer at Stephens Law Firm, PLLC is here to help you seek full compensation for your injuries. Contact our law office in Fort Worth by calling (817) 420-7000.
Your first consultation is always free!
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How an Experienced Fort Worth Seatbelt Injury Lawyer Can Help
Accidents involving serious seat belt injuries are notoriously complex. Not only may another driver be found at fault, the manufacturer of the vehicle and belt can also share legal liability if it’s found to be faulty.
Because seat belt injuries in Fort Worth can be serious and life-changing and liability can be complicated, it’s crucial to work with an experienced Fort Worth seatbelt injury lawyer to thoroughly investigate your case.
Attorney Jason Stephens has more than two decades of experience representing seriously injured accident victims and their families in seeking justice and fair compensation.
He has a proven track record of recovering high-value settlements for his clients. His goal is to level the playing field between you and the large corporations and insurance companies you are up against.
A Fort Worth personal injury attorney at Stephens Law Firm, PLLC will serve as your advocate to negotiate on your behalf with the insurance company, investigate your car wreck, and take your case to court if necessary. Schedule a free consultation today to learn more.
What Are Secondary Seat Belt Injuries?
Seat belts save lives and help drivers and passengers stay restrained in an accident. While the use of a seat belt can prevent more serious injuries, the device alone can cause significant injuries.
Seat belts respond immediately in an accident to absorb kinetic energy that is released from rapid deceleration. This still places a great deal of force on the body where the belt is located. The injuries that seat belts cause are known as “secondary injuries” because they were not caused directly by the at-fault vehicle but they were still caused by the accident.
Stephens Law Firm, PLLC, frequently sees auto accident victims with seatbelt injuries such as:
- Fractured sternum
- Fractured ribs
- Internal bleeding
- Organ damage
- Chest injuries
- Head injuries
- Injuries to the vertebrae
- Abrasions, bruises, and soft tissue injuries
According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA), over 24% of people wearing a belt suffer lap injuries in an accident. 25% suffer injuries to the lap and shoulder. By comparison, 55% of people in the study suffered injuries as a result of not wearing a seatbelt.
Seat Belts & Internal Organ Damage
Among the most serious injuries that can occur from a seatbelt are injuries to internal organs. According to one major study tracking seat belt injuries, seat belts frequently cause abdominal injuries and sternal fractures.
The study found that passengers in car crashes who were wearing a seat belt were more likely to suffer abdominal tenderness and bowel injuries. They also had a higher rate of mortality and morbidity due to a delay in diagnosis of bowel injuries.
In addition to bowel damage, seat belts can cause lacerations and injuries to the spleen, liver, pancreas, and kidneys.
Organ damage from seat belts is documented enough that it has a name: “seat belt syndrome.” This refers to the visceral and musculoskeletal injuries associated with the transfer of force from the belt.
Seatbelts Are Required in Texas Because They Save Lives
Seat belts absolutely save lives. They restrain the body, stopping the chest from slamming into the steering wheel or dashboard in a collision. In 2016 alone, seat belts saved 15,000 lives but another 2,500 more could have been saved if the victims had been buckled up. In Texas, all drivers and passengers are required to wear a seat belt or face fines ranging from $25 to $250.
Defective Safety Belts Can Cause Serious Injuries in a Fort Worth Crash
As serious as secondary seat belt injuries can be, even worse are injuries caused by seat belts that are defective. They may malfunction in many ways such as unlatching upon impact, dislodging from the permanent mount, ripping, or failing to unlatch.
A car accident can be divided into two phases: the first phase is when the vehicle is hit by another vehicle or object and the second phase is when the occupants collide with objects inside the vehicle or the vehicle itself. It is during the second phase when a defective seat belt causes the most harm.
A seat belt is designed to minimize injury during the second phase of a crash. When they fail to work as intended, serious injury or death can be the result.
There are three potential reasons a seat belt may be defective:
- Manufacturing defects such as a missing component which causes the belt to fail when it’s needed.
- Defective design that gives the belt a poor fit or a tendency to unlatch.
- Defective materials used to construct the hardware, buckle, or the belt itself.
Cases involving a defective seat belt fall under an area of law called product liability. Companies may be held liable for their products when defects in design, material, or manufacturing, or marketing cause injuries.
There are many components of a seat belt and potential causes for failure:
- Pretensioners which lock the belt in an accident
- Airbag ECUs where the pretensioners attach to the air bag system
- Webbing which is the material used to make the belt strap
- Anchors which are attached to the car
- Location of the seat belt anchor
- Passive restraint seat belt systems which automatically belt in passengers and drivers
- Door-mounted systems which have been shown to eject occupants if the door opens
Tens of thousands of people have been hurt by faulty seat belts. Some defects are more common than others. For example, false latching may cause the device to look and feel secure when it isn’t fully engaged and will offer no protection in a crash. This type of defect led to 8 million vehicles being recalled by Takata.
When a seatbelt is defective, it may completely prevent the occupant from being restrained. This can directly cause life-changing and serious injuries such as:
If you believe your injuries were caused by a defective seat belt, a Fort Worth personal injury lawyer at Stephens Law Firm, PLLC can help. Call to schedule your free case evaluation today.
Who Is Liable for My Seat Belt Injuries?
Who is at fault for the injuries you suffered depends on the nature of your accident. More than one party may be legally responsible.
In most accidents involving seat belt injuries, the at-fault driver is held responsible for the damages. It does not matter if you were more likely to suffer serious injuries from a seat belt because you were pregnant, older, or had a pre-existing condition.
Note that Texas uses a modified comparative negligence system. This means you can only recover damages if you are 50% or less at fault for the accident. This system directly reduces your recovery according to your share of fault in the accident.
If your injuries were caused by a seat belt that was defective, the vehicle and product manufacturers may share liability for your injuries. Proving liability in a case involving a defective seat belt can be complex and requires identifying the defect and using expert testimony.
Compensation for Seat Belt Injuries in Fort Worth
If you have been injured by a seat belt in a car or truck accident, you may be entitled to financial compensation from the at-fault party. The types of compensation you may recover include:
- Past and future medical bills related to your injuries
- Lost wages for time you needed to take off work
- Reduced earning capacity or loss of future income if you are left disabled
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
If a seat belt injury or defective seat belt has caused the death of a loved one, surviving family members may be eligible to receive compensation through a wrongful death claim.
Contact a Fort Worth Seatbelt Injury Lawyer Today
Even when a seat belt works as it should, the injuries it causes can be extensive and may be on top of additional injuries suffered in an accident. Defective seat belts are particularly dangerous because they may provide no protection at all in a collision.
If you or someone you love has been hurt by a seat belt in an accident, the compassionate legal team at Stephens Law Firm, PLLC is here to help you.
Your initial consultation with a Fort Worth car accident lawyer at Stephens Law Firm, PLLC is always free. Attorney Jason Stephens works on a contingency fee basis which means you never pay attorney fees unless he recovers for you. Call his law office today to schedule your consultation for a free case review.