Seatbelts save the lives of thousands of drivers and passengers involved in collisions each year. Seatbelts saved nearly 15,000 lives in a single recent year, and another 2,500 people would still be alive if they’d have worn their seatbelt that year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Nearly everyone is aware that seatbelts work by securing occupants in their seats and reduce the contact between your body and other surfaces in the event of a collision. Many people don’t realize is that the seat belts themselves can actually cause injuries if they are defectively designed or manufactured or are not worn correctly. Serious injuries can happen even when there was nothing wrong with the seatbelt or the way it was used.

Wyoming car accident attorney Sean Olson and the team at the Olson Law Firm have seen firsthand how people can be injured by seatbelts in the event of a crash. We also know how to identify which party might be responsible and hold them accountable for the harm you’ve suffered.

Contact us now to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case and your best legal options.

Facts and Statistics Regarding Seatbelt Use in Wyoming

Wyoming is home to untamed and wild beauty. We have the freedom to enjoy the wide-open spaces afforded to us as we journey across long stretches of nothing but open road. Unfortunately, this freedom and relative lack of traffic compared to other parts of the country might lead drivers and passengers here to neglect the need to wear a seatbelt.

Statistics from the Wyoming Highway Patrol show that 62 percent of people killed in car accidents in Wyoming were not wearing a seatbelt. Your chances of serious injury or even being ejected from the car in the event of an accident skyrocket if you are not properly restrained.

There is a reason that the slogan “seat belts save lives” is so frequently used, because they do. American’s Health Rankings finds that wearing a seat belt reduces your risk or serious injury by 50 percent and your risk of death by 45 percent.

Thankfully, more and more drivers in Wyoming are catching on. Crash report statistics show that 82 percent of people used their seat belts properly.

Common Seat Belt Injuries Suffered by Car Accident Victims

There is no question that seat belts save lives. The injuries that you could sustain from not wearing a seat belt far outweigh the ones you could get from wearing one.

However, it is important to note that seat belts can cause injuries under certain circumstances. Their purpose is to restrain you and prevent you from flying throughout the car or even through the windshield during an accident. In the event of even a minor crash, the force restraining you can cause injuries.

Data published in the National Center for Biotechnical Information highlights some of the injuries that can happen when wearing a seat belt:

  • Back or neck injuries
  • Bruised or fractured ribs
  • Bruised or fractured sternum
  • Shoulder injuries
  • “Seat belt burn”
  • Soft tissue damage to the abdomen
  • Cuts and bruises

Symptoms of a Seatbelt Injury after a Wyoming Car Accident

If you’ve been hurt in a car accident, make sure that you get the proper medical treatment. In the case of seat belt injuries, you may only feel slight pain or discomfort at first and may not realize the full scope of your injuries at first.

The severity of your seat belt injuries can vary depending on the circumstances of the crash. In a minor accident, you may only notice some soreness and bruising in the area of your chest and abdomen. You may also feel pain in your neck as a result of whiplash.

In more severe cases, you may notice that it is harder to breathe or shortness of breath in addition to more severe pain. These are a few of the more common symptoms that can be associated with seat belt injuries:

  • Bruising
  • Swelling or discoloration 
  • Abdominal pain 
  • Difficulty breathing 
  • Weakness or dizziness 

If you begin to see blood in your urine or stool, vomit blood, or have changes in bowel movements, seek medical help immediately. These may be signs of damage to your soft tissue or internal organs. These injuries can become life-threatening if they remain untreated.

Tips for Avoiding Seat Belt Injuries

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has great tips when it comes to helping you prevent injuries from seat belts:

  • Make sure the lap belt and shoulder belt are placed across the pelvis and rib cage.
  • Situate the shoulder belt across the middle of your chest and away from the neck.
  • The lap belt should be across your hips, not the stomach.
  • Wear the seat belt properly as designed. Don’t put the shoulder belt behind your back or under your arm.

If you have an older vehicle or need a larger or longer seat belt, check with a dealership or manufacturer about getting the correct belt extenders or refitting your car with safer belt options.

Pregnant women should make sure that the lap belt fits snugly across the hips and pelvis below the stomach. Never secure the belt over your abdomen. Also, take care to make sure children’s seats are properly installed and secured. If a seat belt is not properly fitting a small child or tween, they may need a booster seat.

Contact Olson Law Firm, LLC in Wyoming If You Suffered Severe Seatbelt Injuries

If you have been injured by a defective seat belt in a car accident in Wyoming, contact attorney Sean Olson at the Olson Law Firm for help. As a proud member of our Wyoming community, he’ll do everything in his power to seek justice and fair compensation for the harm you’ve suffered.

Reach out to him online or call our Wyoming office now for a free case review.