Hartford Seatbelt Injury Lawyer

A child in a car seat strapped in with seatbelts and looking nervously out the vehicle.Seatbelts save lives, but they can also inflict major trauma as they work to hold back impact forces during an accident.

Broken ribs, internal organ injuries, abrasions, lung ruptures, and other serious medical conditions can result from contact with a seatbelt during a wreck. When seatbelts malfunction, the potential for injury is even greater.

While seatbelt injuries are preferable to being thrown from the vehicle — or tossed around inside — they can still leave accident victims with substantial medical bills and other costs. A Hartford seatbelt injury lawyer can help you seek all applicable damages inflicted in a crash, including those caused by negligent drivers or defective seatbelts.

Let’s get you on the path back to medical and financial recovery by seeking money for your hospital bills, lost work income, vehicle repairs, and other damages. Find out how much your injury claim could be worth during a free, no-obligation case review when you call us at (203) 633-7449 or contact us online today.

Seek the Damages You Have Suffered With a Hartford Seatbelt Injury Attorney

The forces of a motor vehicle crash are enormous. These forces transfer to occupants, and with nothing to keep them restrained, their bodies may keep going once the vehicle comes to an abrupt stop.

Seatbelts were designed to mitigate this problem, keeping occupants secure in the event of a crash. However, high-impact forces can still mean that injuries will occur from restraints.

Injuries from seatbelts are more common than many people may think. As the body pushes against the belt with the full force of an impact, the belt digs in and may cause serious chest injuries, including damage to sensitive organs.

In some cases, they may cause deep cuts, significant bruising, or even organ rupture.

When seatbelts function properly, all of the injuries they may be capable of causing are worth the protection they offer. 85% of vehicle occupants who survived an accident were wearing a seatbelt, according to data from the National Safety Council.

Seatbelts also reduce the risks of moderate to critically severe injuries by 50% for front-seat passengers.

Nevertheless, crash victims are left with medical costs and other damages as a result of their seatbelt injuries. They can pursue compensation for these damages, in most cases, by filing a liability insurance claim using the policy of the at-fault driver who caused their wreck.

In some cases, they may need to instead pursue a vehicle manufacturer, parts manufacturer, dealership, or other third party if their seatbelt injury was related to improper design or installation.

Hiring an attorney gives you the best chances at identifying all liable parties — and then pursuing them for the maximum amount of compensation available. While you may be able to take your chances and reach a settlement agreement without an attorney representing you, know that their services reduce the level of effort required while helping you recover as much in damages as possible.

Who Is at Fault for My Seatbelt Injuries?

In most crashes, seatbelt injuries are considered an inevitable part of modern safety systems. Nevertheless, these injuries have associated treatment costs, which could be recovered through a personal injury claim against any at-fault parties.

A typical claim for seatbelt injuries will be filed against the liability insurer covering a negligent driver who hit you. Connecticut’s tort laws provide that anyone whose negligence (or intentional behavior) causes bodily harm to anyone else can be held liable (legally responsible) for the resulting damages.

Car accident cases involving multiple vehicles are usually caused by the careless actions of one particular driver. All drivers are required to carry liability insurance, per Connecticut law, so they will at least have some accessible way to pay for the harm they inflict.

Common examples of negligent driving actions that can lead to an accident and subsequent seatbelt injuries include:

  • Failure to yield
  • Following too closely
  • Speeding
  • Reckless or aggressive driving
  • Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
  • Driving while drowsy
  • Distracted driving
  • Failure to maintain vehicle

Be sure to exchange information with all drivers involved in your crash, including their insurance policy number. An attorney can then help you file a claim for your resulting medical treatment costs and other damages.

When a Seatbelt Manufacturer or Other Party Could Be Considered Liable for an Injury

Seatbelts are designed to function as part of an entire crash-readiness system installed in vehicles. They will lock down in the event of an accident, and they help ensure proper posture so that you will be cushioned by the airbag when it deploys (if seated in the front row).

Accordingly, vehicle occupants are expected to sustain some measure of crash injuries, even when seatbelts function 100% as intended. No manufacturer can be held liable for any injuries that could be reasonably expected — or that were otherwise impossible to prevent — in the event of a crash.

The types of seatbelt injuries that really matter to a legal claim are ones that would not have been nearly as severe — or that may have never occurred at all — if the seatbelts were functioning as intended.

Not every seatbelt functions as intended, after all. In rare instances, they may spontaneously disconnect, failing to keep the crash victim secured. Pre-tensioning systems can also fail, meaning crash victims could still be thrown or even become tangled in seatbelts.

Seat belt materials can also shred or deform in a crash, sometimes cutting the victim or causing injuries not typically seen in a normal car accident.

In the event of a seatbelt malfunction, one of the following parties could commonly be considered liable:

  • The vehicle manufacturer
  • The manufacturer of the seatbelt system or a specific part
  • A dealership or repair shop that failed to install seatbelts properly

Vehicle Manufacturers

Vehicle manufacturers will issue a recall when a known defect could lead to a higher risk of serious injuries in a crash. A recall of Honda vehicles in late 2023 that were missing key seatbelt tensioning components provides a recent example.

Vehicle manufacturers could be held liable for defects in seat belts, as they are most responsible for testing vehicle safety and building quality before final delivery to the consumer.

If a crash victim can demonstrate that their injuries were directly caused by a vehicle manufacturer’s failure to provide a safe vehicle, then they may be able to file an injury claim against the manufacturer.

Part Manufacturers

A parts manufacturer may be held liable when they were solely responsible for a safety defect, especially when a vehicle manufacturer had no reasonable way of knowing about the defect prior to selling the vehicle.

Claims against parts manufacturers are filed on a case-by-case basis. Specific criteria must be met, including factors that prevent a vehicle manufacturer from catching the safety risks.

These add a level of complexity to any seatbelt injury case. Refer to an attorney for assistance and guidance.

Dealerships and Repair Shops

Dealers are only required to conduct a superficial inspection of a vehicle for defects before delivering the keys to a customer. They are not expected to catch each and every possible safety issue, only those that are glaring enough that they should have been noticed.

However, car sellers and repair centers are responsible when the repair or installation work they perform creates a new seatbelt defect. Errors that can cause a seatbelt to be damaged or function improperly happen most often when seatbelts are removed for repairs or when new seatbelts are installed as an aftermarket modification.

Injury victims must be able to prove that the repairs or installation work was performed in an unreasonably poor manner and that the introduced flaws directly contributed to the severity of their injuries.

Valuing Damages After a Seatbelt Injury

A claim for damages should be comprehensive, meaning it should cover all costs suffered by the injury victim. That includes all costs they will suffer in the future, particularly for their continuing medical needs and for any long-term reduction in earnings they will experience.

Accordingly, most seatbelt injury claims will include damages for the following categories:

  • Medical bills, past and future
  • Lost wages
  • Out-of-pocket expenses
  • Vehicle repairs/replacement and personal property replacement
  • Pain and suffering

Your attorney will work closely with your medical team and other professionals to estimate the full amount of damages you will suffer. They can then file a legal claim against at-fault drivers and other parties to hold them liable for these damages.

Work With an Experienced and Passionate Hartford Seatbelt Injury Law Firm

Bert McDowell is a passionate victims’ advocate, representing clients in Hartford and throughout Connecticut. Having worked on behalf of liability insurance companies in the past, he has a unique understanding of the factors that impact the value of a claim, as well as its chances of success.

Whether you have a claim against a driver, a manufacturer, a dealership, or some other party, know that our firm will do everything in its power to maximize your chances of successful recovery. With our help, we can get you back on your feet faster and with less impact on your wallet.

Reach out to us to learn more about your legal rights and your options for seeking damages when you call (203) 633-7449 or contact us online to schedule a free case review.