Seatbelts save lives. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), seatbelt use saved nearly 15,000 lives in 2017 alone. Seatbelts are particularly effective in head-on and rear-end collisions. In these crashes, a seatbelt will stop you from hitting the steering wheel or dashboard or getting ejected through the windshield.
This protection can come with a cost. As the seatbelt restrains your body, the contact with it can be so forceful that you suffer an injury. After a car accident in Lancaster, PA, Marzzacco Niven & Associates can help you recover compensation for seatbelt injuries. Contact us today at (717) 616-2954 to begin pursuing the compensation you deserve. We offer a free initial consultation.
Table of Contents
How Our Lancaster Car Accident Attorneys Can Help With a Seatbelt Injury Claim
Marzzacco Niven & Associates has helped injured people in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, with personal injury and workers’ compensation claims since 2008. Our Lancaster car accident lawyers have over 120 years of combined legal experience advocating for the rights of our injured clients.
If you suffer a seatbelt injury, our lawyers can provide the following:
- A free legal consultation to review your case and explain your options
- Aggressive negotiations with insurers to try to settle your case without a trial
- Extensive courtroom experience if the insurer refuses to settle
A car accident can cause a wide range of injuries, including whiplash and broken bones, even when you wear a seatbelt. Contact our Lancaster personal injury lawyers to discuss your injuries and the compensation we can pursue for them under Pennsylvania law.
How Many Seatbelt Injuries Happen in Lancaster, PA?
According to Pennsylvania’s Crash Facts Book, Lancaster County had 5,571 traffic crashes in 2022.
These crashes included:
- 52 fatal crashes
- 2,212 non-fatal injury crashes
Overall, 89% of motorists in the county wear their seatbelts. Lancaster County’s seatbelt usage rate exceeds Pennsylvania’s average of 81%. Statewide, the Crash Facts Book reports that 192,889 motorists wore seatbelts during their crashes while 15,805 motorists did not.
By definition, the unbelted drivers and passengers could not suffer a seatbelt injury. Research suggests that seatbelts will injure up to 5% of motorists wearing them during a collision. Using this number, you can estimate that 9,644 drivers and passengers suffered an injury attributable to their seatbelts.
While this number may seem high, remember that you are still safer when you buckle up, even when you include seatbelt injuries. The Crash Facts Book reports that over 76.6% of buckled motorists suffered no injuries, while only 38.1% of unbuckled motorists walked away uninjured. In other words, unbelted occupants were twice as likely to be injured during a crash.
Causes and Effects of Seatbelt Injuries
Seatbelt injuries result from the physics of car accidents. Immediately after a collision, your body continues moving in the same direction and speed as before the crash. It stops only when it hits something. Your seatbelt and steering wheel are equally good at stopping your body. But the shape and position of your steering wheel make it much more likely to injure you.
Thus, the purpose of a seatbelt is to stop your body’s motion in a controlled way to prevent you from hitting other structures in your vehicle that could cause serious harm. In restraining you, the shoulder belt must exert force on your shoulder and chest. As your body hits the shoulder belt, the lap belt will tighten and exert force on your hips and abdomen.
As a result, the most common seatbelt injuries involve the shoulder, chest, and abdomen.
Bruises happen when a blunt impact ruptures small blood vessels under the skin. The resulting injury produces pain, swelling, and discoloration. Most bruises heal within a few days to a few weeks.
Chest and Shoulder Strain
Your chest includes several muscles to provide strength and movement. For example, the intercostal muscles between the ribs facilitate breathing by expanding the chest.
Strains happen when you hyperextend the muscles or the tendons that attach them to the skeleton.
These injuries can cause symptoms such as:
- Muscle pain and stiffness
Mild strains usually heal in four to six weeks. Severe strains may take longer to heal. You may also need physical therapy after a severe strain to build the muscles surrounding the injury to maintain your strength and flexibility.
You have 12 pairs of ribs enclosing your chest. The impact of the seatbelt on your chest can bend your ribs. When they bend far enough, they can fracture.
Broken ribs cause symptoms such as:
- Chest pain, particularly when inhaling
- Limited range of movement
Broken ribs will usually heal within six to eight weeks. Doctors no longer tape your chest for a rib fracture because shallow breaths are more likely to cause pneumonia.
Schedule a Free Consultation With Our Experienced Lancaster Seatbelt Injury Lawyers
The powerful forces your body experiences during a car accident can cause catastrophic or fatal injuries even when you wear a seatbelt. Contact Marzzacco Niven & Associates for a free consultation to discuss your injuries and how we can help you pursue fair compensation.