Everyone in a car or truck should wear a seat belt to lower the risk of injury in a collision. In Nevada, passengers who are 6 years old or older or who weigh 60 pounds are required by law to wear a seat belt if one is available.
Still, many people fail to buckle up. When a collision happens, people who are unrestrained often suffer serious injuries. In Nevada, the fact that you were not wearing a seat belt does not affect your ability to file an injury claim if someone else caused the accident. Nevada civil statutes say that a person may not be considered negligent because of the lack of a seat belt when a crash occurred. If someone else caused the accident, you may still file a personal injury claim and seek compensation for your losses.
The car accident attorneys of Sam & Ash Injury Law urge everyone in Las Vegas to wear a seat belt when driving or riding in a motor vehicle. Regardless of whether you were wearing a seat belt, you may have a right to seek compensation for your losses. You should speak to a lawyer about your rights if you have been injured in a car accident that was not your fault.
How Does Not Wearing a Seat Belt Affect You?
The importance of seat belts is well known. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that seat belt use in passenger vehicles saved 14,955 lives in 2017 and could have saved an additional 2,549 people if they had been wearing seat belts.
In a 2019 report about seat belt use, the NHTSA says, “Seat belt use has shown an increasing trend since 2000, accompanied by a steady decline in the percentage of unrestrained passenger vehicle occupant fatalities during the daytime.”
Of the 22,215 passenger vehicle occupants killed in 2019, 47% were not wearing seat belts, according to NHTSA.
According to the NHTSA:
If you buckle up in the front seat of a passenger car, you can reduce your risk of:
- Fatal injury by 45%
- Moderate to critical injury by 50%
If you buckle up in a light truck, you can reduce your risk of:
- Fatal injury by 60%
- Moderate to critical injury by 65%
Using a lap and shoulder belt keeps the body from slamming into the interior structure of the vehicle and helps disperse the force of a crash over a wider area of the body.
Not buckling up can result in being slammed against the steering wheel, dashboard, or other parts of the vehicle interior or thrown from the vehicle. Airbags are not enough to protect you.
If you survive a crash without wearing a seat belt, you are more likely to suffer serious injuries. They can lead to costly medical bills and a long absence from work, causing financial stress.
Statistics About Seat Belt Use
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says the leading cause of death for Americans aged 1 to 54 is motor vehicle crashes. Seat belt use is one of the most effective ways to save lives and reduce injuries in crashes, the CDC says.
Most people regularly wear seat belts. NHTSA says in a February 2021 report that the national estimate of seat belt use by adult front-seat passengers was 90.3% in 2020.
Seat belt use is higher in Western states compared to the other regions of the country, NHTSA says. In 2020, the seat belt use rate was estimated as 93.8% in the West, down a bit from 94.5% in 2019.
Research cited by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) says seat belt use is lower among passengers riding in the back seat: 78% of rear-seat occupants were observed using belts in 2019.
According to the IIHS, seat belt use is lower among:
- Younger people
- Riskier drivers
- Drivers at night
- Drivers who have been drinking alcohol
- Occupants of older vehicles
- Occupants of pickups (86%), compared with occupants of cars (91%) and vans and SUVs (93%)
In IIHS surveys, the top reasons cited for not using seat belts included driving short distances, forgetfulness, and discomfort.
Common Injuries Caused by Not Wearing a Seatbelt
Most primary injuries suffered in a car accident are due to the body hitting against something, or being hit by something.
The force of the collision is actually transferred to the human body in three ways in a car crash:
- The impact of the vehicle’s collision with another object
- The impact of the human body colliding with objects in the vehicle such as airbags or loose cargo, or from being ejected from the vehicle onto the ground
- Internal injuries as vehicle occupants’ internal organs abruptly shift within the body
Blunt-force trauma in a car accident typically leads to:
- Broken bones, particularly to limbs, ribs, chest, and facial fractures
- Head trauma
- Internal organ injury, such as to the heart, liver, bowels
- Spinal cord injury, which may cause paralysis
Individuals in car crashes may also suffer:
- Cuts and lacerations from contact with broken glass or shorn metal
- Crushing injuries if ejected and pinned by the vehicle
- Burn injuries from contact with flames or radiator steam
- Respiratory injury from inhaling smoke and toxins in a vehicle fire
- Shock from loss of blood
- Psychological shock and/or post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD)
Contact Our Las Vegas Car Accident Lawyers
If someone else caused the car accident in which you were injured, your failure to wear a seat belt does not prevent you from filing an injury claim and demanding compensation for your losses. An experienced Las Vegas car accident lawyer at Sam & Ash Injury Law can assess the circumstances of your injuries and discuss your rights to pursue compensation for your medical bills and more.
Speak to an attorney from Sam & Ash before signing anything or accepting an insurance adjuster’s offer after a Las Vegas car accident. Contact us today for a free consultation. We’ll demand insurers do What’s Right for you.