If a seat belt injury has set you back, we'll help you move forward
While seat belts are essential for safety, they can sometimes cause injury during a collision. Injuries can range from minor bruising to more significant trauma.
If your life, or the life of a loved one, has been affected by a seat belt injury, we can help. If your injuries were caused by another driver, cyclist, pedestrian or any other road user, you may be entitled to claim compensation.
You can make a road injury compensation claim with the help and support of a personal injury solicitor.
In this article
You are not alone
The law states that unless you have a medical exemption certificate, you must wear a fitted seat belt. This law applies whether you are the driver or a passenger (over the age of 12) in a car, taxi or van.
A recent (2019) report by the Department of Transport found that although 98.6% of UK drivers wear a seatbelt, 27% of car occupants killed on Britain's roads were not wearing a seatbelt.
If you decide to make a seat belt injury claim, your road accident solicitor will take you through every step of the claims process. Your solicitor will be with you until you win your claim and get the compensation you deserve.
Wearing seat belt clearly helps to prevent injuries in the event of a road traffic accident. However, a seat belt can also cause injuries in a collision, and it may be possible to bring a road traffic accident compensation claim for those injuries.
For example, a high impact collision between a car and a larger vehicle, such as a truck, may force the seat belt to tighten across the chest, causing bruising and burns. In some situations, the sternum or ribs may be fractured. In serious cases, a chest fracture could cause a lung to collapse.
Whiplash injuries may also be sustained when the upper is restrained by the seat belt while the head is thrown forwards and backwards by the force of the collision. This action causes damage to the muscles, ligaments and nerves of the neck.
Although wearing a seat belt in a high-speed collision can prevent severe and fatal injury, the force of the crash may still result in fractures to the cervical spine.
Am I entitled to make a seat belt injury claim?
If you've been injured or diagnosed with an illness in the last three years and it wasn't your fault, you will be able to claim compensation.
Use our injury claim calculator to find out if you can claim. Or you can call 0800 376 1001 to speak to a specialist advisor. Find out in minutes if you have a claim.
Is a claim still possible if I am partly liable?
Ascertaining who is liable for an accident is not always straightforward and can often involve blame on both sides.
In our 2023 Road Injury Claimant Survey, 5.24% of injured road users said they either were unsure of which party was responsible, or believed they were partially responsible for their injuries.
When fault on both sides caused a claimant's injuries, this is called 'contributory negligence'. In these situations, compensation may still be payable on the basis of a split liability agreement.
How long do I have to claim seat belt injury compensation?
An injury claim will usually need to be made within 3 years of the date or your accident or injury.
For injured children, a claim can be started by a parent or guardian at any time before they turn 18. Thereafter, the injured individual has until their 21st birthday to make a claim on their own.
What if the driver was uninsured or untraceable?
If the driver responsible for the injury is either uninsured or untraceable, a claim can be pursued through the Motor Insurers' Bureau (MIB).
The MIB is an independent that pays road accident compensation to the victims of uninsured or untraced (unidentified) drivers.
How much compensation can I claim for a seat belt injury?
The amount of money you could claim for your injury will depend on:
- the seriousness of your injury, and
- any financial losses or costs you have incurred.
At the start of your claim, your solicitor will consider the many ways your injuries have affected your life. Your solicitor will take these considerations into account to calculate the correct compensation award.
Seat belt injury
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Updated December 2023
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General damages are awarded for pain, suffering and loss of amenity (PSLA).
Awards for general damages are set by the Judicial College and published in their guidelines for personal injury awards.
Special damages are awarded to compensate you for any costs or losses you've incurred or might incur as a result of your accident. These costs might include loss of wages, commission and any other income, damage to your car, or any other out of pocket expenses.
Special damages may also be awarded for medical treatments or procedures that you might need to treat your seat belt injury, including pain medication and psychological support.
Psychological harm after a road accident
The shock of an accident on the road can leave lasting emotional scars, long after the physical injuries have healed.
According to our 2023 Road Injury Claimant Survey, 32.47% of injured road users suffered a psychological injury, 78.53% of these alongside a physical injury.
Injuries caused by seat belts during an accident can, for example, result in a paradoxical phobia of both the injury and not using the seatbelt. More generally maxophobia (fear of driving or being a passenger) is common.
Your solicitor will help to ensure you recieve suitable compensation for the diagnosed psychological harm you have suffered, to support your recovery and provide funding for therapies that may not be accessible on the NHS your area.
Our compensation calculator can estimate your compensation for psychological injuries. Or you can call us on 0800 376 1001 to speak to a specialist advisor.
What if I wasn't wearing a seatbelt?
If you have been injured in a road traffic accident that was the fault of another driver, your injury claim would be against that negligent driver, whether you were wearing a seat belt or not.
However, a court may consider that your injuries may have been less serious if you had been wearing a seat belt, and may reduce the amount of compensation awarded. Typically, this is around a 25% deduction for the 'contributory negligence'.
Read more about compensation for a road accident without a seatbelt here.
Although it is rare for seat belts to fail, it may be possible to bring a defective product claim if it can be proved that the seat belt was faulty and that the injuries would have been less severe had the seat belt not failed.
Your solicitor would bring a claim for the defective seat belt against the car manufacturer under product liability laws. An engineer's report might be required to prove the case.
Seat belt injury claims are usually categorised as road traffic accident (RTA) claims. Click on the icons below to learn more:
How we can help you with your road accident claim
Your solicitor will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you, and the highly-experienced panel of solicitors have an excellent track record of winning road accident claims.
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Gaynor Haliday, Legal researcher
About the author
Gaynor Haliday is an experienced legal researcher and published author. She has had numerous articles published in the press and is a legal industry commentator.