Seat belts save lives. You have heard this stated by many safety institutions, such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Yet, in some cases, seat belts are what cause injuries. While the injuries inflicted by a seat belt may not be as severe as those the restraint system prevented, they can still be serious and painful. After a car accident, you may be able to recover compensation if you were injured by your seat belt.

Why Do Seat Belt Injuries Occur?

Seat belt injuries, also known as seat belt syndrome, refer to damage caused to a car accident victim by forces transmitted from the restraint or safety harness. A standard seat belt has three points of contact: the shoulder, chest and abdomen. In a motor vehicle collision, this three-point restraint holds a motor vehicle occupant in place to combat the forces of the crash. Seat belts offer protection to vehicle occupants by preventing them from striking objects inside the cab of the car or being ejected from the vehicle. In some cases, however, the force of the restraint itself causes injuries.

Common Examples of Seat Belt Injuries

Seat belt injuries are often caused by blunt force trauma. This refers to a body’s impact with a firm surface or object (one that is dull, not sharp). When the significant forces of a car accident propel a vehicle occupant forward into a seat belt, the impact can be enough to cause injury or trauma to the three points of contact between the seat belt and the passenger’s body. Examples of seat belt injuries include:

  • Bruising
  • Abrasions
  • Neck injuries
  • Whiplash 
  • Soft-tissue injuries
  • Torn muscles or tendons
  • Shoulder injuries
  • Chest injuries
  • Clavicle fractures
  • Rib fractures
  • Intra-abdominal injuries
  • Internal bleeding
  • Organ lacerations
  • Vertebral fractures
  • Lumbar spine injuries
  • Cervical spine injuries
  • Pelvis injuries

While the majority of seat belt injuries are minor, trauma caused by a lap and/or shoulder belt can be severe. For example, victims with serious spinal injuries from seat belt syndrome could suffer permanent nerve damage and paralysis. These injuries can occur even if a vehicle occupant was wearing a seat belt correctly and if it did not contain any product defects. If the seat belt is defective, the injuries could be even more extensive.

Can You Receive Compensation for a Seat Belt Injury?

In West Virginia, the person or party most at fault for causing a car accident will be financially responsible, or liable, for all related damages. An at-fault party will be held liable for a victim’s medical bills and property damage, including any harm caused by a seat belt. If seat belt syndrome caused an injury or exacerbated the harm suffered by a victim, the party that caused the crash will be required to pay for this injury as part of a car accident settlement.

If the seat belt malfunctioned and did not restrain the passenger as it should have during a car crash, resulting in injuries, the victim may have grounds to file a product liability claim against the manufacturer of a defective seat belt. This type of case aims to show that the auto part contained a design, manufacturing or marketing defect, and that this caused the victim’s injury. A product liability suit could be brought in addition to a car accident claim against the driver at fault for causing the crash.

Even a driver who is found to be at fault for a car accident could be eligible to file a product liability claim against a manufacturer for a defective seat belt. The driver’s claim could argue that he or she would not have suffered injuries in the crash had the seat belt performed as intended. As long as the driver is found to be less than 50 percent at fault for his or her injuries, financial compensation will still be available under West Virginia’s comparative negligence law.

If you were recently injured by a seat belt in a car accident, contact Manchin Injury Law Group for a free consultation with a personal injury attorney to discuss your legal options.

Attorney Timothy Manchin established the Manchin Injury Law Group in 2011 after his law partner of more than 25 years became a West Virginia circuit court judge. His focus is on helping individual clients and entire families victimized by negligent acts.

  • Taylor Downs was easy to talk to (I do not speak the legal language well!) and was very upfront and honest about the entire process of my case. He kept me updated as the case progressed, and answered my relentless questions. The end result was a favorable settlement that I’m not sure could have been any better with anyone else. In short, go see Taylor if you have a case. Don’t be intimidated to go seek his help, he won’t blow your brains out with “legal speak”.


  • Being referred to Taylor was the best thing I could have asked for. Taylor and staff are very easy to talk to. I would highly recommend them to anyone.


  • If I ever have to go through it again I would definetly call Taylor right away. The group was so helpful through my situation and handled everything that needed to be done. They made a stressful situation a stress free situation. With Taylor you dont have to worry about one thing. Definietly would recomend to anyone.

    - TAYLOR G.

  • Efficient, knowledgeable, and friendly.


  • Taylor and Tim helped make a difficult moment in life, a little more bearable. Easy to communicate with and informative. I will absolutely recommend them to everyone.


  • Manchin Injury Law Group, Took care of me when I got into a car accident while I was pregnant. Very scary moment for a first time mom but thankfully Manchin Injury Law Group had my back and treated me great. They made me feel as if I was part of their family. My son is now 7 Months Old and very happy and healthy. I’m very thankful for them for helping me through everything and getting me what we deserved. I 100% would recommend them to anyone. If I ever have an accident again they will be my number 1 phone call!


  • The support given helped me to feel like I was included in my personal injury case every step of the way. I was informed about the entire process throughout. It was amazing how quick the turn around time was and I would definitely recommend Attorney Timothy J. Manchin to anyone!


  • Taylor and Kelly worked hard on my case so I didn’t have to. Thanks guys!


  • Excellent experience dealing with Manchin Injury Law. They were very responsive, professional and easy to talk to. I did my homework before I hired a lawyer after my accident and I am so glad I found Manchin Injury Law Group. If you are injured, give them a call!


  • Taylor and Tim helped make a difficult moment in life, a little more bearable. Easy to communicate with and informative. I will absolutely recommend them to everyone.


  • Kelly and Taylor did all the hard work so that I didn’t have to. They both cared about my circumstance and got me a nice settlement. Taylor knows what he is doing and I felt comfortable with my case in his hands.


  • Great lawyers. They helped me with a West Virginia case.


  • Such a great experience with Taylor and this firm. Thankful for their diligence and their work on our case. Thank you to all!


  • Had a easy and smooth experience with a great attorney so when you go there make sure you ask for Taylor.


  • My experience at the Manchin Injury Law Group was extremely positive, and I would recommend them to anyone who needs a compassionate and experienced lawyer on their side.


Contact Us Today

We offer a free initial consultation at our office in the Manchin Professional Building — our home since 1983 — conveniently located in Fairmont.

If you are unable to visit our firm, we can come to your home or hospital room.

Fill out the form below to get in touch!

100% privacy guarantee