I Was Injured By A Seat Belt, Can I Claim Compensation?

injured by a seatbelt claim

Seat-belt accident claims guide.

By Fern Easton. Last Updated 24th February 2021. Welcome to our guide on making an injured by a seatbelt claim. While it is the law to wear a seatbelt while driving on UK roads, and they can prevent serious injuries from occurring, you can also suffer an injury because of the fact you were wearing one. If you’re injured by a seat belt because of somebody else’s negligence, then you could use a no win no fee solicitor to seek compensation for your injuries. In this guide, we’re going to look at what injuries seat belts can cause, when you might be entitled to make a claim for them and how much compensation you could be entitled to.

Accident Claims UK have a team of specialist advisors who are happy to provide free legal advice about making a claim. They’ll also provide you with a free, no-obligation assessment of your claim. Finally, if you’re claim is strong enough, they could introduce you to one of our solicitors to handle your claim on a no win no fee basis. If you’d like to begin a claim for a seat belt injury today, please call 0800 073 8801.

If you’d prefer to find out more about claiming if you’re injured by a seat belt before contacting us, please continue reading.

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A Guide To Claims If Injured By A Seat Belt

In this guide, we’re going to look at when you could make a compensation claim if you’re injured by a seat belt. In general terms, you could be eligible if:

  • You were involved in an accident;
  • Caused by the negligence of another road user;
  • Which caused you to suffer a seatbelt injury.

Another criteria for claiming is the personal injury claims time limit. Under normal circumstances, this is 3 years from the date of your accident. It could, however, start from the date a doctor diagnoses your injuries if that happens later.

In this guide, we’re going to look at the law surrounding seat belts, the different injuries that can be sustained and seat belt claims against employers.  We’ll also try to answer questions such as:

  • Can I claim if I wasn’t wearing a seatbelt?
  • Can a seatbelt break your ribs?
  • Is not wearing a seatbelt contributory negligence?
  • Can a seatbelt cause internal bleeding?

After you’ve read this guide, if you have any further questions or are unsure whether you could make a claim, please call our advisors for free advice on making a claim.

To answer a couple of those questions right away, not wearing a seatbelt could be deemed as contributory negligence. However, you could still claim compensation. Your claim will be assessed, and the level of your liability for the accident will be calculated. Then your compensation will be adjusted accordingly. In some cases, where it’s deemed you would’ve been injured to the same level even if you had been wearing a seat belt, you could be compensated fully.

What Are Seat Belt Injuries?

Seat belt injuries are those which occur during a car crash because you were wearing a seat belt. While they’re designed to keep you safe, the impact caused during a collision can mean they cause you to suffer. However, in most cases, the injuries caused by seat belts are much less severe than would have happened had you not been wearing one.

We’ll cover seat belt injury symptoms and specific injuries later on in this guide, but commonly whiplash can be caused by a seat belt as well as bruising, a contusion, fractured ribs and even internal bleeding.

As mentioned above, to claim compensation if you’re injured by a seatbelt, the accident will need to have been caused by another road user’s negligence. This could include careless driving, drink driving, speeding or other forms of dangerous driving.

UK Seat Belt Safety Laws

The law on wearing seat belts is quite clear: if there’s a seat belt fitted to the vehicle you’re in, you must wear it. Also, if you have passengers who are under 14-years old, it is your responsibility to make sure they wear a seat belt while you’re driving.

Children who are under 12-years old or less than 135cm tall must be secured in the correct car seat for their height. If a child is in the wrong car seat or not wearing a seatbelt, the car driver can be fined up to £500.

There are some exceptions to these rules, which we’ll cover shortly.

Why Are Drivers And Passengers Required To Wear Seat Belts?

When a car collides with a stationary or moving object, anything that’s not secured to the vehicle will move forwards at sometimes frightening speeds. Therefore, a seat belt must be worn by all passengers and the driver. Wearing a seat belt will:

  • Stop you from hitting the windscreen of your vehicle.
  • Prevent passengers in the back seat colliding with the driver or front-seat passenger.
  • Prevent anybody from being ejected from the vehicle and landing on the road.

Essentially, a seat belt is the best way to save lives during a car accident. It’s worth remembering that even though this guide is about being injured by a seat belt.

Are There Exceptions To Wearing A Seat Belt?

There are a few exceptions to the rules regarding the wearing of seat belts. You don’t have to wear a seat belt when you’re:

  • Reversing the vehicle.
  • Driving a delivery vehicle with less than 50 metres between drop off points.
  • In a police, fire or rescue service being used for work.
  • Plying for hire or carrying passengers in a taxi.

There are occasions when a doctor will say you don’t have to wear a seat belt for medical reasons. In this case, they’ll provide you with a certificate of exemption from compulsory seat belt wearing. By law, you have to keep the certificate in your vehicle and show it to a police officer if they stop you.

A common belief is that pregnant women and disabled people don’t have to wear a seat belt. This isn’t true unless you are medically exempt.

What Are The Risks Of Wearing Your Seat Belt?

In general, where a seatbelt is worn correctly, they are safe and help to prevent fatalities during road traffic collisions. There are a few risks associated with them which could lead to a number of different injuries. These could be caused by malfunction, incorrect use or a defect.

Here are some of the problems that could be caused by a seat belt:

  • A release button being pressed accidentally. If this happens without the passenger realising, they are susceptible to injuries in the event of a collision.
  • During a collision, the seatbelt retractor is supposed to lock and prevent any movement. If the retractor fails, the seatbelt can become slack and allow the passenger to be thrown forward as if they weren’t wearing a seat belt.
  • Design defects can mean that the seat belt is only effective if worn in a particular way.
  • Finally, some seat belts have an internal latch that can become unlatched if the seat belt buckle is hit, which will result in the passenger not being secured properly.

When a seat belt functions correctly, injuries such as a cracked rib can pail into insignificance compared to those sustained when a seatbelt fails.

What Injuries Could Be Caused By Seat Belts?

There are a multitude of different injuries that can be sustained during a road traffic accident. Here are some of the more common injuries and symptoms caused when a seat belt is worn:

  • Breathing difficulties – following a collision, if you’ve suffered organ damage, seat belt injuries to the chest muscles or a broken rib, you may feel breathless or struggle breathing.
  • Bruising – This is common when a seat belt tightens and holds the body back during a collision. These types of injuries are not usually long-lasting and can start to get better in a matter of days.
  • Abdominal pain – When the lap part of a seat belt is pulled tightly across the kidney area, it can lead to abdominal pain. This could cause damage to the kidneys and could also lead to intestinal injury or internal bleeding. Left untreated, these types of injuries could cause prolonged suffering and present a risk to life.
  • Bleeding – While you’re unlikely to notice any bleeding on the outside of the body caused by a seat belt, it is possible for internal bleeding to be caused during a car crash. As there are usually no immediate symptoms of internal bleeding, it is essential that you are medically assessed by a GP or at a hospital. Signs that you are suffering an internal bleed include blood in the stools or your urine.

While we haven’t listed every possible injury here, we certainly can help you claim for any form of suffering caused by a road traffic accident. That would be the case if the accident was caused by another driver’s negligence. To check whether you’re eligible to seek compensation or not, please call an advisor for free claims advice.

Whiplash Injuries

Whiplash is an injury caused when the head is whipped forwards and then backwards quickly due to a collision. Surprisingly it can happen in car crashes that occur at low speeds because the body is restrained by a seatbelt, whereas the head is not.

Whiplash injuries affect the neck, back, shoulders and upper arms. The main symptoms to look out for are:

  • Difficulty moving the head and neck stiffness.
  • Pain in the neck and surrounding area.
  • Any strength of headache.
  • Muscles spasms, with or without pain, in the shoulders and arms.

While the NHS suggest that pain killers can be used to manage the symptoms of whiplash, we’d highly recommend that you visit your GP to have your injuries assessed. As mentioned earlier, this will mean medical records are available to prove how severe your injuries were.

Seat Belt Injury Claims Against Employers

If you’re injured in a road traffic accident, you’d usually claim against the other driver if they caused the accident to happen. However, you could also make an accident at work claim against your employer if they were negligent in some way that caused your accident. For instance, if the vehicle had not been maintained or serviced regularly, and the seat belt was faulty, you may be able to make a claim.

I Was Injured By A Seat Belt, What Steps Should I Take To Claim Compensation?

If you are injured by a seat belt, your chances of claiming compensation will be increased if you have evidence to support your claim. Therefore, we recommend that you take the following steps after a road traffic accident:

  • Visit A&E or your local GP. The sooner your injuries are assessed, the sooner they can be treated. Also, medical records can be used to prove what injuries you sustained.
  • Take pictures of any visible seatbelt injury.
  • Photograph the scene of the accident before any vehicles are moved.
  • Ask witnesses for a statement of what they saw. Also, if they have dashcam footage, ask for a copy to be sent to you.
  • Swap details with the other driver involved in the accident.
  • Write down what happened. This is because it’s very easy to forget small details later on.

Once you’ve obtained as much evidence as possible, you could contact an advisor to have your claim assessed for free. We won’t put pressure on you to make a claim, and there’s no obligation to proceed.

Seat Belt Injury Compensation Claims Calculator

We’re often asked what the average compensation for a car accident in the UK is. The truth is that until we’ve assessed your claim fully, it’s difficult to say as there are many different elements to a claim. However, we can provide the personal injury claims calculator table below.

InjurySeverityCompensation RangeAdditional Notes
RibsMinorUp to £3,710Soft tissue damage or fractured ribs causing pain and disability for a number of weeks.
NeckMinorUp to £2,300 to £7,410An injury such as whiplash which causes soft tissue type damage. Typically full recover will occur within 1 and 2 years.
NeckModerate£7,410 to £36,120This range covers dislocations and fractures of the neck. These could lead to the requirement of spinal fusion.
NeckSevere£42,680 to £139,210This range covers the most severe neck injuries including those which result in complete paraplegia.
ShoulderMinorUp to £2,300 to £7,410This range covers sofft tissue damages. In this range recovery usually occurs between 1 and 2 years.
ShoulderSerious/Severe£11,980 to £45,070This range covers the more severe shoulder injuries including those linked to neck injuries where damage to the brachial plexus causes permanent intrusive symptoms or a signifcant disability.
Back Minor£2,300 to £11,730Back injuries where full recovery occurs, without any surgery requirement, within 2 to 5 years.
BackSevere£36,390 to £151,070This range covers severe spinal injuries where incomplete paralysis results in impaired bowel, bladder and sexual function.
Arm/elbowModerateup to £11,820This range covers most elbow fractures, lacerations and simple arm fractures.
PelvisMinorUp to £3,710This bracket covers a minor pelvis injury, such as tissue damage, with complete recovery.

As you’ll notice, each injury is calculated based on how severe it was. Therefore, our solicitors insist that you have a medical assessment by an independent doctor (performed locally to you). This provides them with a report that can be used in conjunction with other evidence to help prove the extent of your injuries. This could help ensure you receive the correct level of compensation for your injuries.

Damages You Could Claim If Injured By A Seat Belt

When a personal injury solicitor sits down to assess how much compensation a client is entitled to, they can use a number of different elements to make a claim. The elements they’ll use will depend entirely on how your injuries affected you. Here are some of the elements available to them:

  • General Damages – This is how your pain, suffering and loss of amenity is compensated. Examples of general damages were included in the previous section.
  • Medical Expenses – It can be surprising how quickly the cost of prescriptions and other medication can build up during recovery. Therefore, these costs could be included in your claim.
  • Travel Costs – When you’re injured by a seat belt, you might not be able to drive while you’re recovering. If that’s the case, you could claim for any alternative travel arrangements. Also, it could be possible to include fuel and parking costs linked to medical appointments.
  • Care Costs – In cases where a carer is needed to support your recovery, you could claim any associated costs back.
  • Damaged Property – If an item of personal property is damaged in your accident, you could ask for the cost of replacing it. You could also ask for the repair cost if that’s easier.
  • Lost Income – When you’re unable to work while you’re recovering, you could claim compensation for any lost earnings. If you have a longer-term injury that affects your ability to work the same as before the accident, you could claim for future lost income.

With the financial parts of your claim, we recommend that you keep hold of receipts, payslips and bank statements to help prove the costs you’ve incurred as a result of your injuries.

No Win No Fee Claims If Injured By A Seat Belt

We know that the thought of making a seat belt injury claim can seem quite daunting. Not only are there legal implications, but there are also financial worries too. That’s why our solicitors offer a no win no fee service for any claim they take on.

When you use a no win no fee service, you and your solicitor will sign a conditional fee agreement or CFA. The importance of this document is that it protects you and reduces your financial risk. That’s because it clearly explains that you don’t have to pay any solicitor’s fees unless you receive compensation. The CFA also explains what success fee you have to pay when compensation is awarded.

Success fees are what are used to cover the solicitor’s fees. They are deducted from your compensation before it’s paid to you. By law, the success fee is not allowed to exceed 25% of your compensation.

How We Could Help If You Were Injured By A Seat Belt

The best way to begin a claim if you’ve been injured by a seat belt is to gather your evidence and to get in touch with us. Here are some reasons why we believe you should let Accident Claims UK handle your claim:

  • Our friendly and professional advisors can assess your claim for free.
  • They’ll also provide free legal advice even if you’re not ready to begin.
  • Our solicitors are dedicated to resolving claims as efficiently as possible.
  • Our claim line is open 24-hours a day, 7-days a week.
  • Previous clients have provided us with fantastic feedback.
  • Our team of solicitors have up to 30 years’ experience making personal injury claims.

If you have any other questions about why we could help you make a seatbelt injury claim, please call the number at the top of the screen.

Contact Our Road Traffic Accident Specialists Today

If you’ve been injured by a seat belt and are ready to begin your claim with us, here are the ways in which you can contact us:

  • Telephone: Call our advisors for free advice on 0800 073 8801.
  • Email: Send details of your accident to office@accidentclaims.co.uk
  • Live Chat: Connect with an advisor from any page on this web site with our live chat facility.
  • Online: Ask us to call you back by completing our online claims form.

Whichever way you get in touch, we’ll provide you with free advice about making a personal injury claim. We’ll also assess your claim for free and, if the case is strong enough, we could introduce you to a no win no fee personal injury lawyer to handle your case.

Seat belt injury claims- FAQs

How much could I receive for a seatbelt injury claim? 

There’s no one answer to the question “how much is my seatbelt injury worth?”, in part because a seatbelt, as we have already discussed, can cause a wide range of injuries from whiplash to bruising and sometimes even fractures.

The amount of compensation you receive will depend on your injuries, from how severe they are to how long they’re likely to affect you. Your compensation will also take into account any expenses you’ve incurred as a result of the accident and your subsequent injuries. This can include things like travel to and from hospital appointments, or medication or treatment you’ve had to pay for. Remember to keep hold of any receipts or bills as they’ll be able to help support your claim.

Can I make a claim if I wasn’t wearing a seatbelt? 

You may be able to make a claim for personal injury if you weren’t wearing a seatbelt at the time. However, this might be classed as contributory negligence. This is when even if you weren’t at fault for the accident, your actions were deemed to contribute to the extent of your injuries and your compensation is reduced accordingly.

What treatment is available for a bruised or broken rib? 

Because of the positioning of the seatbelt, a bruised or broken rib is one of the common injuries that can be caused by a seatbelt. As ribs can’t be put in a cast or supported like an arm or leg may be able to, they’re often left to heal on their own.

However, you should always seek medical attention if you think you’ve broken your rib after a car accident, as the high impact increases the risk that your broken rib may have damaged one of your internal organs.

Essential Resources

Now that you’ve come to the end of this guide about what to do if you’re injured by a seat belt, we’ve provided some more guides and useful resources below.

Seat Belt Law – Details from the government regarding when you need to wear a seatbelt.

The Highway Code – All of the rules of the road covering the United Kingdom.

Brake – A road safety charity that campaigns for safety measures and supports those affected by a road traffic accident.

Car Accident Claims – This guide looks at the different types of injuries caused during a car crash, not just a seat belt injury.

Whiplash Claims – A guide covering what causes whiplash and when you could claim compensation for it.

Accident At Work Claims – This guide could help you claim if you’re seeking seat belt injury compensation following an accident in a work vehicle.

Medical Resources

Whiplash Injuries – Information from the NHS regarding the causes, diagnosis and treatment for whiplash injuries.

Bruises – Another guide from the NHS. This one explains what bruises are, how you can reduce them and when to see your GP.

Article by Brett.

Thank you for reading our guide on making an injured by a seatbelt claim.