Important Facts All Georgia Car Accident Victims Should Know About Seatbelts
When cars, trucks, and SUVs are involved in collisions, the decision to wear a seatbelt can literally be the difference between life and death. Although many states have adopted universal seatbelt laws, Georgia requires occupants in passenger vehicles to wear seatbelts only when riding in the front seat of a vehicle or when the occupant is 17 or younger.
Many vehicle occupants over 18 that are not seated in the front seat of a vehicle exercise their right to forgo a lap belt or shoulder harness when operating a motor vehicle.
Because seatbelts provide an effective safeguard against severe injury in an auto accident, the decision not to buckle up can have very serious consequences. There are a number of key facts that drivers and passengers should know about seatbelt use in Georgia:
- Airbags Do Not Replace Seatbelts: While airbags are a valuable safety feature, they are designed to complement the protection provided by seatbelts. If drivers elect not to wear a seatbelt, the choice can convert airbags into potential hazards. Seatbelts often prevent drivers from being thrown into airbags before they are fully deployed. When a driver is hurtled into an airbag while it is still deploying, the result can be traumatic brain injuries, blindness, broken bones and other serious injuries.
- Seatbelts Are Highly Effective at Reducing and Preventing Injury: Many vehicle occupants underestimate the effectiveness of seatbelts in preventing severe injuries or fatalities. The National Safety Council reports that seatbelts saved the lives of 75,000 people during a recent five (5) year period. Seatbelts reduce the risk of severe injury or wrongful deaths by fifty percent according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC).
- Proper Use and Fit Matter: Seatbelts are designed to fit across the rib cage and pelvis. These parts of the body are designed to withstand more force than surrounding structures and organs. When seatbelts are not worn or fitted properly, they may not provide optimum protection or may even make one’s injuries worse.
- Relationship between Seatbelts and Liability: In many states, insurance companies may assert a seatbelt defense as evidence of comparative fault or causation by a car accident victim to shift responsibility to the personal injury plaintiff. However, Georgia law expressly prohibits the seatbelt defense on the issues of fault or causation. Georgia law also prohibits evidence of failure to wear a seatbelt to diminish recovery in a personal injury claim.
- Extent of Protection Based on Force of Impact: The Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety (GOHS) has reported that when a vehicle occupant weighing 150 lbs. travels at 65 mph, a collision with a fixed object generates a force of impact of 9,750 lbs. A seatbelt can protect vehicle occupants from this intense force of impact that can easily prove fatal to an unrestrained vehicle occupant.
Our Atlanta auto collision attorneys are available to represent clients injured in car crashes throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.