As we write this, there are millions of drivers on the road all across the country traveling on city streets, rural highways, unpaved back roads, and high-speed interstates. Within the next few hours, dozens will be hurt or killed in traffic accidents they did not cause. While it’s a fair bet that most of those involved in a car or commercial trucking crash will have been wearing a safety belt, some may not. Whatever the reason — be it fear of injury during a roadway collision, lack of perceived comfort, or just plain obstinacy — it’s likely that those who chose not to wear their seatbelt may be injured to a greater degree than those who did. And, sadly, some may die as a result of their decision.
As Baltimore personal injury attorneys, I and my staff of legal professionals have talked to many different clients over the years, many who have been hurt in a car, truck or motorcycle wreck. For those who have been badly hurt, through no fault of their own, the cost of medical treatment, convalescing without being able to make an income, and extended rehabilitation expenses can all add up to put a pinch on many of these individuals and their families. For those people who were not using a safety belt at the time of a crash, the costs could be higher — physically and financially.
We mention this because reducing the severity of physical injuries is something that seat belts have been doing for quite some time now. Most every traffic safety expert will advise that wearing a seat belt is preferable to not wearing one. This is not to say that seatbelts themselves have been known to cause injuries themselves, but the statistics indicate that these most rudimentary of automotive safety devices are more beneficial than not.
Since traffic accidents are one of the leading causes of death for those five to 34 years of age, it is remarkable that a percentage of Americans still do not take advantage of safety belts. Some people truly fear being hurt worse in a crash due to the seatbelt itself. For these people, they see friends and acquaintances receive certain injuries from a seatbelt — such as whiplash, bruising of internal organ and internal bleeding to name a few — regardless, police and governmental agencies across the nation recommend and actually enforce laws requiring the use of safety belts when operating a motor vehicle.
Although the facts show that these protective devices save more people than they harm, a lack of use can result in many worse injuries than the most common bruising or temporary neck or back injuries. Some of the potentially serious or life-threatening injuries resulting from a lack of seatbelt use include compound and simple bone fractures, contusions and closed-head injuries, as well as spinal cord damage. Sometimes, a person who is not wearing a seatbelt will be thrown from the vehicle during a bad traffic collision.
This happened a while back when one of the occupants in a passenger car died not long after being taken to the emergency room following a drunk driving-related traffic wreck in Kingsville. According to news reports, the accident took place around six in the morning as a pickup truck crossed the centerline and crashed head-on into a small Mazda sedan. The force of the collision caused a 26-year-old man, who was a passenger in the Mazda, to be ejected from the car. Although emergency responders took the victim to the local Franklin Square Medical Center, he died not long after arriving at the hospital.
The others, including the drunk driver, survived with various levels serious to life-threatening of injuries. Information from the Baltimore County police indicated that the pickup truck driver as well as the Mazda driver were both taken to Maryland Shock Trauma and were later said to be in stable condition; however, the same could not be said for the deceased victim.