More needs to be done to prove child safety when it comes to seat belts—especially as not all US states require that kids ages 4-8 use booster seats. Unfortunately most seat belts are unable to properly fit over the bodies of many children to ensure maximum protection, which can result in catastrophic seat belt-related injuries, known as seat belt syndrome, during a car accident.
Just last year, one 7-year-old’s life changed forever when she sustained seat belt-related injuries during a catastrophic Minnesota car accident. Brynn Duncan was wearing a seat belt, but she had pulled the shoulder belt over her back so it wouldn’t sit on her face. The lap belt she was using fell over her stomach. When the vehicle Brynn was riding in crashed, she sustained a crushing spinal cord injury, bowel and kidney damage, and a bruised heart.
Doctors had to remove her kidney, appendix, and gallbladder. Brynn suffered from infection and depression and sustained permanent injuries. She now requires the use of her wheelchair.
Seat belt syndrome is not uncommon and while US states that don’t require kids, ages 4-8, to use booster seats should consider whether to revise their laws (which many parents turn to for guidance), there is a lot more that auto manufacturers and seat belt designers can do to make sure that kids and adults are properly protected when wearing seat belts and that these safety devices do not cause serious injury.
Injuries linked to seat belt syndrome include liver injuries, abdominal organ injuries, bowel injuries, chest trauma, blood vessel injuries, sternum injuries, spinal cord injuries, and death. Seat belt injuries that occur because the safety device was designed poorly or because the seat belt malfunctioned can be grounds for the injured party and his or her family to file a defective seat belt lawsuit.
Recently, automaker Ford announced its latest development in seat belt technology: inflatable seat belts. Designed to improve rear-seat passenger protection, especially for kids, the belts contain airbags that are supposed to inflate during certain kinds of auto collisions. Hopefully the new belts can provide the added protection kids and adults need during an auto collision.
Ford Says Inflatable Seat Belt Could Reduce Crash Injuries, Wall Street Journal, November 9, 2009
AAA Minnesota/Iowa & Safe Kids Minnesota Support Enhanced Child Restraint Legislation “The Brynn Duncan Law“, Reuters, January 6, 2009
Brynn Duncan’s condition worsens, surgery needed, Daily Journal, September 10, 2008

Related Web Resources:
Seat belt syndrome, Wrong Diagnosis
Child restraint laws, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety

If you or your child was seriously injured because of a defectively designed or faulty seat belt, contact our auto products liability law firm today. We handle cases involving injuries to children and adults.