Factors Insurance Companies Consider When Evaluating an Oregon Personal Injury/Auto Accident Claim – Part Fifteen – Seat Belt and Shoulder Harness

Seat belts and shoulder restraints are a double-edged sword. A person pursuing an injury claim by themselves might wonder how an insurance company considers the use or non-use of a seat belt at the time of accident. Because seat belts are designed to promote safety, it might seem that an un-belted passenger is more likely to have received the serious type of injury that will generate a large award by an insurance company.

An insurance company does “credit” the use of seat belts, but not because a belted driver has shown creditable safety-consciousness, instead it is because frequency of whiplash injuries has increased since the mandatory-seat-belt laws passed. This is contrary to what a person pursuing his or her own injury claim might expect. The reason why we refer to it as a double-edged sword is that seat restraints are proved to reduce the likelihood of being killed in a car crash, but statistics show that they have significantly increased the number of spine injuries sustained in crashes.

The precise reason for this is not clear, but one thing that we do know is that an injury often occurs when the impact causes a passenger’s neck to accelerate forward rapidly and thus the neck stops all at once from the forward motion. A seat belt prevents a person’s torso from also accelerating forward. Although your torso might be strapped down your neck is still susceptible to the sudden forward motion, in almost all cases it is the neck alone that carries the forward momentum and absorbs the shock of sudden stop.

The fact is that one cannot guess what injuries are likely to occur, be prevented, or in some instances exacerbated by various features of car design. You need to be aware of these factors to make sure you are treated fairly by the insurance companies. It is the job of an experienced Oregon personal injury attorney to know automobile safety features – including information about the care you drive – and they must know how each of them correlates with injury. The experienced Oregon personal injury attorney knows how to analyze, present, and make arguments using such automobile data as will be favorable to your injury claim. Call a personal injury lawyer if you have questions about the specifics of your case.


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