It is always important to wear your seat belt as a driver or passenger in Colorado. Buckling up could save your life in a car accident. Almost 15,000 people survived car accidents because of seat belts in 2017, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Unfortunately, seat belts are not always effective at preventing injury. Sometimes, wearing a seat belt is the reason for a victim’s harm.
Incorrect seat belt usage can increase the risk of injuries in a car accident, but even wearing one properly might not prevent injuries. Where the seat belt touches the passenger could sustain an injury from the pressure of the body pushing against the belt in a crash. The belt going rigid in a forceful collision can impact the torso and other parts of the body.
Seat belt injuries can be catastrophic or even fatal. A serious injury to the spinal cord, for example, could cause the victim to permanently lose function and feeling below the point of injury (paraplegia or tetraplegia). Severe internal organ damage from a seat belt could be fatal. If you suffered serious injuries because of a seat belt, you could be eligible for compensation from the seat belt manufacturer or another party.
A seat belt could cause whiplash by holding the body in place but not the head and neck. In a collision, the forces of the accident could push the head rapidly back and forth. This could strain the tendons in the neck and cause whiplash. Even with the potential to cause whiplash, however, experts recommend wearing a seat belt. Seat belts dramatically reduce the risk of fatal head, neck and spine injuries.
A seat belt might break in an accident if it contains a defect. A safe and effective seat belt will be able to withstand the weight and forces of the wearer pushing against it in an accident. If the belt contains manufacturing, design or marketing defects, however, it could malfunction and cause more harm than good.
A defective seat belt could lead to product manufacturer liability if it contributed to a crash victim’s personal injuries. The manufacturer is responsible for properly testing its seat belts to verify their effectiveness before releasing them to the public. It may be possible to file an injury claim against the manufacturer or distributor for releasing a faulty seat belt.
As the victim of a car accident in Colorado, you could recover damages for any injuries – including seat belt injuries – from one or more at-fault parties. The state’s fault-based insurance system gives you the power to file a claim with the at-fault driver’s insurance company for your losses. If your seat belt injury occurred through no fault of the belt’s, you could seek compensation from the at-fault driver.
If, however, the seat belt contained a defect that caused your injuries, you could bring your claim against the belt manufacturer. Many car accident claims involve more than one defendant. You may be able to hold both the other driver and the seat belt maker at fault for your injuries. Filing a lawsuit for your seat belt injuries could result in payment for your related past and future expenses.
Every state imposes different statutes of limitations, or time limits, on filing personal injury or product liability lawsuits. In Colorado, you have a maximum of three years from your car crash to file your seat belt claim. If you miss the statute of limitations, you may not be able to recover any compensation for your injuries. Speak to an experienced accident attorney in Denver to help you meet your deadline.