A Guide to Claiming Seat Belt Injury Compensation

This guide sets out what you need to know about making a seat belt injury following a car accident compensation claim.

Introduction

The law states that unless you have a medical exemption certificate, you must wear a fitted seat belt, whether you are the driver or a passenger (over the age of 12) in a car, taxi or van.

Typical Injuries

Wearing seat belts helps to prevent serious injuries in the event of a road traffic accident. However, a seat belt can still cause less serious 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 body is restrained by the seat belt whilst 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.

Do I have a seat belt injury claim?

As a basic rule, you can make a seat belt injury claim if you sustained an injury:

  • in the last three years and;
  • someone else was to blame.

If these two points don't apply to you, you may still be able to make a claim.

To confirm whether you are eligible to claim you can speak to a legal expert on 0800 612 7456.

A short call will confirm whether you have a claim. We will not put you under pressure to make a compensation claim.

Alternatively you can try our Online Claim Checker.

What if I was partly to blame?

If you think you were partly responsible for the accident or for your injury, it should still be possible to make a claim.

In these cases, claims are usually settled with a split liability agreement.

For example, if you were 50% responsible for your injuries, you would receive 50% less compensation.

Read more about when there is uncertainty as to who is to blame.

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 body that pays road accident compensation to the victims of uninsured or untraced (unidentified) drivers.

Read more

What if a child was injured?

The 3 year rule does not apply to minors.

A claim can be pursued for anyone under the age of 18 by a parent, guardian or litigation friend. The injured child has up to the age of 21 to start a seat belt injury claim on their own behalf.

Read more about claiming injury compensation on behalf of a child.

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How much compensation can I claim for a seat belt injury?

The amount of money you could claim for your seat belt injury will depend on:

  • the extent 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 seat belt injury has affected your life. Your solicitor will take all of these effects into account to calculate the correct compensation award for you.

This calculation will factor in general damages and special damages.

General damages

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

Special damages are for financial losses and expenses you have incurred as a result of the accident.

See a list of what you can claim for:

Examples of special damages include:

  • Lost earnings (including future earnings)
  • Medical treatment costs
  • Physiotherapy
  • Travel costs
  • Costs of care
  • Costs of adapting your home or car

Find out what your claim could be worth now

Assessing a claim's value at the outset can be complicated.

If you would like a FREE claim estimate with no obligation to start a claim, call 0800 612 7456.

Alternatively, our compensation calculator will give you an instant estimate of what your claim is worth.

Calculate my injury claim

Caring and sensitive support

Your solicitor will handle your seat belt injury case from the initial consultation through to the financial settlement. In addition, your solicitor will work with other specialists to help you with:

  • Financial support: interim payments while you are unable to work.
  • Advice: on personal injury trusts, tax and welfare benefits.
  • Coordination: with rehabilitation providers and therapists.
  • Access: to treatment and therapies not always available on the NHS.

How much compensation can I claim for a seat belt injury?

The amount of compensation awarded will depend on the severity of your injuries and the time it may take to fully recover from them.

During the claims process, you will be examined by an independent medical expert who will create a report detailing the parts of the body that are affected by your injuries and how long your symptoms might continue.

This will form the basis of the compensation claim, which will include the costs of loss of earnings if you are unable to work because of your injuries, and the costs of medical treatment and other support you may require as a result.

What if I wasn't wearing a seatbelt?

Should you be injured in a road traffic accident that was the fault of another driver, your claim for injury would be against that negligent driver, irrespective of 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.

Seatbelt failures

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 or minimised had the seat belt held fast.

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.

How does no win, no fee work?

No Win, No Fee is an agreement with your solicitor (known as a Conditional Fee Agreement or CFA) that means that you can make a seat belt injury claim with:

  • no upfront legal fees
  • no solicitor's fees payable if your claim is not successful
  • a success fee payable only if your claim is successful

No Win, No Fee is the most common way to make a compensation claim.

Our no win, no fee guarantee

Our no win, no fee guarantee means there is zero financial risk in making a seat belt injury claim - even if you don't win your claim.

What do I pay if I win my seat belt injury claim?

Your injury solicitor will receive a success fee which is deducted from your compensation, once your claim is settled. The solicitor's success fee can be up to 25%. Your solicitor will agree a success fee with you before you start your claim.

What do I pay if I do not win my seat belt injury claim?

If your seat belt injury claim is not successful then you do not have to pay any legal fees .

Read more about making a No win, no fee claim

How can Quittance help?

Our highly experienced panel of solicitors have an excellent track record of winning road accident claims. Your solicitor will fight for the best possible compensation settlement for you.

If you have any questions, or would like to start a No Win No Fee claim, we are open 8am to 9pm weekdays, 9am to 6pm on Saturday, and 9.30am to 5pm on Sunday.

Call us FREE 0800 612 7456 or arrange a callback:

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Seat Belt Injury FAQ's

Can I claim for someone else?

Yes. In certain circumstances, it is possible to claim compensation on behalf of another person in the capacity of a 'litigation friend'.

If an injured person is either too young or vulnerable, too injured or otherwise unable to claim on their own behalf, their litigation friend can handle the claim process on behalf of the injured person.

The litigation friend will be responsible for communicating with the solicitors, and for making decisions in respect of the claim.

Read more about claiming on behalf of another person.

Can I claim if I was partly responsible for an accident?

You may still be able to claim compensation even if you contributed to your accident or to your injuries.

However, if you were partly to blame (known as contributory negligence), your compensation may be reduced and it may be more difficult to prove liability.

Read more about claiming compensation if you were partly responsible for an accident.

How long will my claim take?

The length of time needed to secure compensation can vary considerably.

For example, straightforward car accident claims can settle in a matter of weeks, whereas complex medical negligence cases can take years.

Injury claims can also take longer if it is not clear who is responsible for your injury, or if liability is denied by the defendant.

Taken from average case times, this table sets out approximately how long personal injury claims take to settle:

Personal injury claim type

Estimated claim duration*

Road accident claims

4 to 9 months

Work accident claims

6 to 9 months

Medical negligence claims

12 to 36 months

Industrial disease claims

12 to 18 months

Public place or occupiers’ liability claims

6 to 9 months

MIB claims (uninsured drivers)

3 to 4 months**

CICA claims (criminal assault)

12 to 18 months**

*RTA and other claims processed through the Ministry of Justice portal can settle faster.
**Official Criminal Injuries Compensation Authority (CICA) Government agency and Motor Insurers’ Bureau (MIB) figures.

Read more about how long personal injury claims take.

Will I have to go to court?

Highly unlikely. The vast majority of claims that are settled by Quittance’s solicitor panel are settled out of court.

Only a very small percentage (approx. 5%) of personal injury claims go to court. Generally, only very complex cases, or those where liability cannot be resolved, end up in court.

Cases that do ultimately go to court are held in front of a judge, not a jury.

Read more: Will my injury claim go to court and what if it does?

Will I have to go to a solicitor's office?

No. You will not need visit a solicitor's office. As with most professional services, it is no longer necessary to meet face to face with your solicitor. Personal injury claims are dealt with via email, post and telephone.

Should you need to have a medical, this will be arranged at a medical centre near you or at your GP's surgery.

Read more: Will I have to visit a solicitor's office?

Can I get an interim compensation payment?

If you suffer financial hardship as a result of an injury, you may be able to claim interim compensation payments.

An interim payment is a partial settlement of your claim which is paid before your claim is concluded. The amount you receive in interim payments would then be deducted from your final compensation settlement or award.

Read more about interim compensation payments.

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.

Read more about this Quittance Legal Expert