Car Accident, No Seat Belt: What Happens?

The severity of a car accident is greatly impacted by the use of seat belts. The initial impact of a car accident can do its share of damage to a human body, but in reality, much of the damage to the body comes after the initial impact.

If the body is restrained by a seat belt, the damage is mitigated, while many of the more serious injuries and deaths tend to come from human bodies that are not constrained by seat belts and are bounced around inside a car after impact.

The Physics of Auto Accidents

In physics, there is a law that says that an object in motion remains in motion until it is stopped by another object. And this is on display during a car accident. If you were to see an accident happen in slow motion, you can see very clearly the difference with a human body that is restrained by a seat belt and one that Is not.

As a car moves, then hits an object (a wall or another car), you can see the momentum of the car stop. All of the human bodies in the car are also moving at that same speed prior to impact and they are separate from the car, so as the car’s momentum stops, the humans’ momentum continues unless they were stopped by a seat belt. However, any humans not wearing a seat belt would continue their forward momentum until they hit some object – the back of a seat, the dashboard, or the windshield.

As you see these take place, it makes reasonable sense that in 99.5% of accidents, injury and death rates in car accidents are greatly reduced thanks to properly functioning seat belts keeping people in place and stopping momentum before a part of the car does.

How important are these physics? Recent statistics show that more than half of all people who died in crashes in 2015 were not wearing their seat belts.  

The Seat Belt Defense

So what if you weren’t wearing a seat belt at the time of an accident, though the accident wasn’t your fault? Can you still get damages for any injuries? That is actually a trickier question than you might think.

In about 20 states, there is what is called a “seat belt defense,” which lowers the potential award for a claimant if the claimant was not following state seat-belt laws. In this case, the number of damages for which it may be liable may be reduced because it can be reasonably found that at least some of the injuries by the claimant were a result of not wearing a seat belt and were not from the impact of the crash.

Whether you are at fault in an accident or not, make sure to consult with a personal injury attorney from Memphis Law Firm to discuss the specifics of your auto-accident case and the role that seat belts may or may not play. Regardless of fault, your rights and assets should be protected, just as much as seat belts are designed to protect you from more serious injuries.