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Ridesharing Accidents: Where Is the Liability?

Ridesharing Accidents: Where Is the Liability?Ridesharing is a great way to conveniently get around town without the hassle of driving and parking. Supplementing the local taxi market, rideshare services through transportation network companies (TNCs)—like Uber and Lyft—connect passengers with drivers via smartphone apps.

But unlike taxis, rideshare cars are not subject to the same strict regulations. Each TNC maintains its own policies, but drivers operate independently and contract directly with the passenger. This begs the question of who is responsible for the actions of the drivers if they get in an accident. Is it the driver or the rideshare company? To answer these questions, let’s take a look at the insurance requirements for rideshare drivers.

Insurance Standards for Rideshare Drivers

Rideshare drivers are required to carry liability insurance. Insurance coverage for rideshare drivers can change depending on what the driver is doing (i.e., waiting for a passenger, on the way to get a passenger, or with a passenger in the car.) The coverage we are concerned with in this blog is that which will cover the passenger in an accident.

As the TNC industry continues to grow, insurance companies are working on developing a coverage type that meets the needs of TNC drivers. Some insurance companies offer rideshare coverage in Illinois. This insurance typically works as a hybrid, covering the driver on a personal level and when “on the job.” This insurance can also cover passengers for bodily injury.

TNCs also have insurance that covers passengers. A standard policy limit is $1 million in liability insurance. But these companies often deny claims by disputing liability and fight aggressively in court.

Stay Smart and Safe

You can get safely from point A to point B using a rideshare service, but be an educated passenger. Choose well-reviewed drivers and verify their identity. Share your trip details with a friend, and ride in the backseat. Also, know the risks of using these services, and never assume you will automatically be covered if you are injured as a rideshare passenger. Although insurance coverage for ridesharing has become more sophisticated, gray areas in the law remain. For this reason, you should work with an attorney if you are in an accident while using a rideshare service. An attorney can work to defend your rights, hold the liable party responsible, and seek fair compensation for your losses.

 

If you’ve recently been injured in a rideshare accident, Arlington Heights personal injury attorney Ronald F. Wittmeyer can help. With more than 30 years experience practicing plaintiffs’ personal injury law, we can fight aggressively on your behalf. Serving the Northwest suburbs including Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Palatine, and surrounding areas, the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. helps level the playing field against major insurance companies and corporations. If you’ve been injured or involved in an accident, call our office at (847) 357-0403 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation with one of our highly qualified Arlington Heights personal injury attorneys. The sooner we can learn about your case and your needs, the more effective we can be at recovering fair and adequate compensation for your losses.

How do Preexisting Injuries Affect Personal Injury Claims?

How do Preexisting Injuries Affect Personal Injury Claims?Insurance companies are always looking for ways to minimize your claim. Companies will try to parse out every detail of your claim that could mitigate their liability and therefore your claim payout. One of the most common ways they will do this is by looking for proof of preexisting injuries when reviewing your medical records.

If you seek compensation for injuries sustained in a car accident, for example, and had a prior back injury, the insurance company will probably argue it is not liable for all your medical bills as they were incurred—in part—because of your previous injury.

How Preexisting Injuries Affect Claims

The insurance company might still have to pay your claim if you have a preexisting injury. If the liable party’s actions were the proximate cause of your injuries, you have a right to compensation. But insurance companies routinely use evidence of preexisting injuries to claim they do not have to compensate you fully for your medical bills. You should be cautious whenever speaking with insurance companies after an accident if you have preexisting injuries.

To receive fair compensation for your losses, you will need to provide medical records. But the insurance company doesn’t have a right to see all of your medical records. They will ask you to sign a release that gives them the right to ask your providers for records directly. The records the medical provider hands over are typically more detailed than the ones you may have access to. The company will then search through those complete records for a reason to minimize your claim.

Releasing Records

When asked to sign a release, make sure you are only giving them access to relevant medical records. You can specify in the release what specific records—typically those created after your accident—and from what providers. This reduces the chance the insurance company will find anything in your records that could minimize your claim. But be honest. Your provider may have records of your previous injuries and could even include information about them in your full medical records. They have a right to do this, and if you fail to disclose any information requested, the insurance company could use that to deny your claim outright.

Minimizing Your Claim

If you aren’t sure whether you should sign a release, you should speak with an attorney before doing so. A knowledgeable Illinois personal injury attorney can advise you on what records you should release and what records are irrelevant. It’s best to let an attorney read through the release to make sure your rights are protected, and you don’t release anything that could compromise your claim.

 

If you have been injured in an accident and have a preexisting injury, Arlington Heights personal injury attorney Ronald F. Wittmeyer can help. With more than 30 years experience practicing plaintiffs’ personal injury law, we can fight aggressively on your behalf. Serving the Northwest suburbs including Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Palatine, and surrounding areas, the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. helps level the playing field against major insurance companies and corporations. If you’ve been injured or involved in an accident, call our office at (847) 357-0403 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation with one of our highly qualified Arlington Heights personal injury attorneys. The sooner we can learn about your case and your needs, the more effective we can be at recovering fair and adequate compensation for your losses.

 

 

Knowing When to Settle and When to File Suit

Knowing When to Settle and When to File SuitFiling an insurance claim is like playing a game. And, when out on the field, it helps to know the playbook. Knowing when to settle your claim and when you should file suit is one of the most important strategies you can master. But choose your strategy wisely to ensure you receive fair compensation as soon as possible with as little expense as possible.

When to Settle

The majority of insurance claims are settled out of court. Typically, the parties involved—the plaintiff and the insurance company—can come to a settlement agreement. Reaching an agreement saves both the time and cost of litigation. Cases most likely to settle successfully are those where liability is clear, and the damages are undisputed. Likewise, low-value claims and those involving minor injuries are rarely worth the hassle of a trial.

When to File a Law Suit

You can face many barriers to settling an insurance claim. Sometimes it is necessary to file suit if you’ve tried to settle, but the insurance company will not offer fair compensation. Consider filing suit if the insurance company is denying liability, disputing your losses, or is firm on a lowball settlement offer. You can still attempt to settle after you commence litigation and before trial. Keep in mind you may or may not have the same bargaining power at that point.

A Note of Caution

The only good time to settle or file suit is after you’ve treated your injuries to the fullest extent. Once you receive compensation, you are responsible for all future medical bills, so make sure you have a good idea of your future expenses before you even think about resolving your case.

Playing the Game

Filing suit can be costly and involves the court. It can also significantly prolong your case. You should never file suit unless you cannot settle for fair compensation. Don’t let the insurance adjuster pressure you into signing a settlement agreement. If you don’t know whether you should file suit or try to settle in your case, speak with an attorney. Working with an experienced Illinois personal injury attorney can ensure you receive fair compensation, no matter the route you have to take.

 

If you’ve recently been injured and need help with your insurance claim, Arlington Heights personal injury attorney Ronald F. Wittmeyer can help. With more than 30 years experience practicing plaintiffs’ personal injury law, we can fight aggressively on your behalf. Serving the Northwest suburbs including Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Palatine, and surrounding areas, the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. helps level the playing field against major insurance companies and corporations. If you’ve been injured or involved in an accident, call our office at (847) 357-0403 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation with one of our highly qualified Arlington Heights personal injury attorneys. The sooner we can learn about your case and your needs, the more effective we can be at recovering fair and adequate compensation for your losses.

 

Does the Insurance Company Have a Right to See All My Medical Records?

Does the Insurance Company Have a Right to See All My Medical Records?Insurance companies frequently request medical records when evaluating claims. The adjuster needs to corroborate your records with the medical bills you submitted for compensation. The insurance company doesn’t have an inherent right to view your records, which is why they will ask you to sign a release granting them the right. But without medical records, your claim will most likely be denied.

Determining the Scope

Typically, an insurance company will only need to view records of treatment received for the injuries in question (i.e., the ones you are seeking compensation for.) But it is not uncommon for adjusters to try to get a hold of your past medical records, too. They do this to try to get an upper hand in your case.

Claims adjusters will look through medical records to determine the value of the claim and to find reasons to deny your claim. For this reason, don’t sign a blank release giving them access to all your records. Instead, limit the scope by listing the specific providers who’ve treated your injuries sustained in the accident and the date range of the records.

You can also protect yourself by having a lawyer request the records before sending them to the insurance adjuster. By reviewing your records before they are sent out, you can make sure there is not irrelevant information in them. If there is, you can redact what information the insurance company doesn’t need.

Your Right to Privacy

Don’t let insurance companies snoop through your entire medical history. Be smart about what records you release, and have an attorney review the release before you sign it. Protecting your rights when dealing with insurance companies is the key to getting fair compensation. If you want to learn about your rights, speak with an experienced Illinois personal injury attorney. An attorney can advise you of your rights and help you cooperate with the insurance adjuster without compromising your claim.

Even if you have a right to fair compensation, it’s no picnic going up against mega insurance companies to fight for what you deserve. So when out on the road, remember to drive defensively to reduce your risk of getting in or causing an accident. Also, speak with an experienced Arlington Heights personal injury attorney if you need help filing a claim. An attorney can help you navigate the insurance claims process, so you get the compensation you deserve.

 

Getting the compensation you deserve shouldn’t be a battle, and Arlington Heights personal injury attorney Ronald F. Wittmeyer understands how you feel. With more than 30 years experience practicing plaintiffs’ personal injury law, we can fight aggressively on your behalf. Serving the Northwest suburbs including Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Palatine, and surrounding areas, the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. helps level the playing field against major insurance companies and corporations. If you’ve been injured or involved in an accident, call our office at (847) 357-0403 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation with one of our highly qualified Arlington Heights personal injury attorneys. The sooner we can learn about your case and your needs, the more effective we can be at recovering fair and adequate compensation for your losses.

 

 

 

 

When Driving With Kids, Remember these Airbag Safety Tips

When Driving With Kids, Remember these Air Bag Safety TipsAirbags can buffer the impact of a car accident, reducing injuries and saving lives. But for young children, they can pose a safety risk as well. When the force of an airbag hits a child, he or she can suffer serious injuries from a device that’s meant to keep us safe.

Why Airbags Are Dangerous

Airbags deploy at a speed of up to 200 mph. Young children can’t handle this kind of impact. As a precaution, all children under the age of 13 should ride in the back seat in a car seat appropriate for their age and size. Older children can sit in the front seat, but move the seat as far back as it can go to reduce the risk of injury. And never put children with health conditions or injuries in the front seat.

The Impact of an Airbag

On a child’s body, the impact of an airbag can be fatal. Deploying airbags most commonly cause skull fractures and brain injuries in a child. Airbags aren’t meant to protect a child’s body; they are intended to protect an adult’s body. Accordingly, their force well exceeds that needed to protect a child. This begs the question of who is liable when a child dies because of an airbag impact.

Generally, you will find warning stickers in the car—typically on visor mirrors—cautioning against letting children ride in the front seat. Child safety car seats will have similar warnings. These warnings help you prevent injuries and also limit the company’s liability. Follow these warnings to stay safe. If you or your child were injured from a defective airbag, however, you could have grounds for a personal injury claim.

The Lesser of Two Evils

Front airbags protect occupants who are at risk of hitting the steering console, windshield, or dashboard. Children riding in the back seat don’t face the same risks, but they can still suffer impact in an accident. For this reason, put younger children use car seats, and make sure older children use seat belts properly. Children can also be injured by side-impact airbags; so check your car manual to find out where your airbags are.

If you were injured in an accident or from a defective airbag, speak with an experienced Arlington Heights car accident attorney about your right to compensation. An attorney can help you file a claim, so you recoup your losses.

 

If you’ve been in an accident and want to know your rights, Arlington Heights personal injury attorney Ronald F. Wittmeyer can help. With more than 30 years experience practicing plaintiffs’ personal injury law, we can fight aggressively on your behalf. Serving the Northwest suburbs including Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Palatine, and surrounding areas, the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. helps level the playing field against major insurance companies and corporations. If you’ve been injured or involved in an accident, call our office at (847) 357-0403 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation with one of our highly qualified Arlington Heights personal injury attorneys. The sooner we can learn about your case and your needs, the more effective we can be at recovering fair and adequate compensation for your losses.

 

 

How to Safely Enjoy the Fall Foliage

How to Safely Enjoy the Fall FoliageThe best time to view fall foliage in Illinois is mid-to late October. During this time, expect to see distracted leaf peeping out of towners on the road. Unfortunately, many locals dread this time of year because these distracted drivers not only slow your commute, they can cause accidents as well.

It’s no wonder locals find leaf peepers a nuisance. Slowing down, failing to signal, or stopping on a through way—easy to do when trying to catch a glimpse—are dangerous and frequently cause accidents.

Tips for Safe Viewing

To ensure you can enjoy the fall foliage in Illinois safely, follow these tips.

Be Aware of the Risks

When drivers are distracted by nature in all its glory, they can put other drivers on the road at risk. Drivers viewing the leaves commonly drive slower than traffic and often make driving maneuvers without properly signaling. Stay alert so you can recognize distracted drivers, and give them plenty of room, so you can quickly and safely maneuver around them and avoid collisions.

Know the Rules

The Illinois rules of the road handbook provides guidance on what to do when someone is blocking a lane or driving unsafely. It’s a good idea to familiarize yourself with these rules, so you know the legal—and safe—action to take when dealing with negligent drivers.

Be Cautious When Driving on Leaves

After that first rainstorm, expect to see some of those beautiful leaves on the street. Although they make for beautiful pictures, wet leaves are slippery and cause accidents by obscuring the road. Drive slower on leaves, and turn with caution.

Help When You Can

You can also contribute to keeping our roads safer during fall foliage season by helping people from out of town locate the best areas for viewing leaves and the safest pull out spots.

Leaf peepers aren’t the only risk you’ll face on the road this fall. Deer in mating season, more kids out due to school, and leaf debris on the road can all contribute to accidents. So, follow the tips above and stay safe when viewing the beautiful foliage this fall!

 

If you’ve recently been in an accident and want compensation for your losses, Arlington Heights personal injury attorney Ronald F. Wittmeyer can help. With more than 30 years experience practicing plaintiffs’ personal injury law, we can fight aggressively on your behalf. Serving the Northwest suburbs including Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Palatine, and surrounding areas, the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. helps level the playing field against major insurance companies and corporations. If you’ve been injured or involved in an accident, call our office at (847) 357-0403 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation with one of our highly qualified Arlington Heights personal injury attorneys. The sooner we can learn about your case and your needs, the more effective we can be at recovering fair and adequate compensation for your losses.

 

Who’s to Blame? Identifying Liability in Trucking Accidents

Who’s to Blame? Identifying Liability in Trucking AccidentsTruck drivers face many hazards when they get behind the wheel. Not only does driving a freight truck require a high level of skill, focus, and endurance, truckers have to keep their cool despite extensive blind spots, frequent mechanical issues, and many hours on the road. These elements make trucking one of the toughest—and most dangerous—jobs. Not surprisingly, there are around 500,000 truck and large bus crashes a year with over 4,300 proving fatal.

 

Accidents involving commercial trucks tend to be more serious than ones involving just passenger vehicles. The sheer weight of a truck upon impact can leave a passenger vehicle devastated and the driver with catastrophic injuries.

 

Trucking accidents also tend to be more involved because the liability isn’t always straightforward. Is the driver liable, or the employer? Does the owner of the truck face liability? What if another company improperly loaded the truck and that caused the accident?

 

As you can see, liability in trucking accidents can be complicated considering the numerous factors at play, and every trucking accident is different. Generally speaking, however, several parties could be found liable for a truck accident.

 

Any person or company involved in getting the truck out on the road could potentially face partial or full liability, including the driver, the driver’s employer, the owner of the truck, the manufacturer of the truck, or even the person or company that loaded the truck or equipped it for the road. But to get a clearer idea of who is liable for your injuries, you need to speak with an experienced Arlington Heights trucking accident attorney about the specifics of your case.

 

If you’ve been injured in a commercial trucking accident, you have a right to compensation from all liable parties if you were not at fault. Speak with an attorney if you’ve been involved in a trucking accident. In these types of cases, the sooner you get an attorney involved, the more he or she will be able to help you. Truckers are subject to both State and Federal Department of Transportation regulations, meaning you need an attorney who is familiar with these to parse out exactly who is responsible and to what extent. You will also need an attorney who knows what pieces of information need to be gathered and from whom to prove liability.

 

Sharing the roads with truckers puts all of us at risk. So, report unsafe driving, stay aware of their blind spots, and give them plenty of space while on the road to reduce your chance of getting in a trucking accident.

 

If you’ve recently been injured and are seeking compensation, Arlington Heights personal injury attorney Ronald F. Wittmeyer can help. With more than 30 years experience practicing plaintiffs’ personal injury law, we can fight aggressively on your behalf. Serving the Northwest suburbs including Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Palatine, and surrounding areas, the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. helps level the playing field against major insurance companies and corporations. If you’ve been injured or involved in an accident, call our office at (847) 357-0403 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation with one of our highly qualified Arlington Heights personal injury attorneys. The sooner we can learn about your case and your needs, the more effective we can be at recovering fair and adequate compensation for your losses.

 

Dram Shop Laws and Pub Crawls: Know Your Right to Relief

Dram Shop Laws and Pub Crawls: Know Your Right to ReliefThe recent popularity of the pub crawl trend has taken its toll on communities across the nation. The recent death of two local men caused by drunk driving is a harrowing example all too close to home. When 28-year-old Tyler Stuart got behind the wheel of his truck the night of February 11, he had already had enough to drink. Stuart had just finished a bar crawl that spanned three establishments. Stuart’s family and the family of the Crystal Lake man whom Stuart killed by colliding with his car that night are now trying to hold those three establishments liable for irresponsibly serving alcohol to Stuart before he got behind the wheel.

 

The law, which the plaintiffs are basing the suit off of, is called a dram shop law. The dram shop law holds an establishment or a host that serves liquor to a clearly intoxicated person liable for the injuries or losses caused by the patron. For example, a bar that serves an obviously intoxicated person with more alcohol may be held liable if that patron then got behind the wheel and caused an accident, either injuring or killing someone.

 

In Illinois, the dram shop law, which falls under the purview of the Liquor Control Act, provides relief for those injured by someone who was negligently served alcohol. But these cases can be intricate, especially if more than one bar was involved, and—not surprisingly—the establishments often fight back.

 

Dram shop laws are particularly relevant when it comes to pub and bar crawls, where the patron in question travels from establishment to establishment to drink. Pub and bar crawls are growing in popularity and can be an enjoyable activity but only if there is a designated driver or the participants use public transportation to travel between bars and to get home. Fortunately, as towns and cities across Illinois improve public transit and embrace ride sharing, there are more safe ways to get home from pub crawls than ever before.

 

If you or a loved one has been involved in an accident with a drunk driver, you may be able to file a lawsuit to get compensation for your losses, so you should speak with an experienced attorney about your rights. Again, these cases can be complicated and are best handled by an experienced Arlington Heights auto accident attorney.

 

When people get behind the wheel after drinking, the results can be fatal. If you enjoy pub crawls, make sure you identify a designated driver or use a ride share service at the end of the night to keep you and others safe.

 

If you’ve recently been in an accident, Arlington Heights personal injury attorney Ronald F. Wittmeyer can help. With more than 30 years experience practicing plaintiffs’ personal injury law, we can fight aggressively on your behalf. Serving the Northwest suburbs including Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Palatine, and surrounding areas, the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. helps level the playing field against major insurance companies and corporations. If you’ve been injured or involved in an accident, call our office at (847) 357-0403 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation with one of our highly qualified Arlington Heights personal injury attorneys. The sooner we can learn about your case and your needs, the more effective we can be at recovering fair and adequate compensation for your losses.

 

Preparing to Fight: Battling Big Insurance

Preparing to Fight: Battling Big InsuranceIf you’ve been involved in an accident, you will most likely have to file an insurance claim if you want compensation for your losses. Whether it’s with your insurance company or the other driver’s, you should remember that insurance companies are businesses that want to make a profit. They will try everything in their power to deny legitimate claims and minimize claim payouts. That’s their business model, and it’s nothing personal.

 

When dealing with Big Insurance, you might feel like you are up against impossible odds fighting for the compensation you deserve. Filing a claim after an accident shouldn’t be frustrating, but it often is. Adjusters have an arsenal of techniques used to deny, delay, or minimize claims. They may immediately deny liability or try to get you to say or sign something that would undermine your claim or absolve them of liability.

 

To fight these tactics, following these tips:

 

Never sign a release or accept a check from an insurance company without speaking with an attorney first. By signing a release or cashing a check, you are releasing the insurance company from further liability. If you have lingering symptoms and need more medical treatment after that point, you cannot ask the company to pay for it.

 

Don’t provide a recorded statement regarding the accident until you’ve spoken with an attorney. What you say can compromise your claim.

 

Wait until you have healed from all your injuries—to the extent that you can—before you consider settling your claim. The insurance company might pressure you to settle before you have healed or have been properly treated. Although you might need the money to pay your bills, you could be cheating yourself out of your rightful compensation. Seek medical care as soon as you need it, and follow your doctor’s orders carefully.

 

Perhaps most importantly, you should consult with a personal injury attorney to determine whether you need legal representation or if you can handle your claim on your own. But if you have serious injuries or injuries that will require lengthy treatment to heal or if the insurance company is disputing liability, an attorney might be able to help you.

 

If you’ve been injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, you don’t have to let Big Insurance take advantage of you. Becoming aware of the industry tactics insurance companies may use to minimize your claim and knowing how to undermine those efforts is half the battle. If you’ve been injured and are seeking fair compensation for your losses, you should speak with an experienced Arlington Heights area personal injury attorney. An attorney can coach you on how to handle your claim while protecting your interests, so you can receive all the compensation you deserve.

 

Getting the compensation you deserve shouldn’t be a battle, and Arlington Heights personal injury attorney Ronald F. Wittmeyer understands how you feel. With more than 30 years experience practicing plaintiffs’ personal injury law, we can fight aggressively on your behalf. Serving the Northwest suburbs including Arlington Heights, Buffalo Grove, Palatine, and surrounding areas, the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. helps level the playing field against major insurance companies and corporations. If you’ve been injured or involved in an accident, call our office at (847) 357-0403 or fill out our online form to schedule a free consultation with one of our highly qualified Arlington Heights personal injury attorneys. The sooner we can learn about your case and your needs, the more effective we can be at recovering fair and adequate compensation for your losses.

 

 

 

Safety First! … Wear a Backseat Seat Belt

seat belt

Did you know: nine out of ten American front seat car passengers report wearing a seat belt in the front seat? However, according to a new study conducted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), the same cannot be said for backseat passengers.

The IIHS surveyed a group of adults regarding their seat belt habits. Most adults said they understood the importance of always wearing a seat belt in the front seat. However, the study showed that adults believe the back seat is safer. Therefore, adults buckled up less often in the backseat. According to the IIHS, “4 out of 5 surveyed…say short trips or traveling by taxi or ride-hailing service are times they don’t bother to use the belt.” In total, only 72% of the adults surveyed reported wearing a seat belt in the backseat. 91% wore a seat belt in the front seat.

The Common Misconception: The Back Seat Is Safer

The backseat being safer than the front seat of a vehicle is a common misconception. Seat belts matter regardless of where a person sits in a vehicle. Over half of the people who die in vehicle crashes in the United States every year do not wear their seat belts. If you have been involved in an accident with another car with individuals who did not wear their seat belts, contact the Law Offices of R.F. Wittmeyer, Ltd. today. While many believe they should wear seat belts to protect themselves from injury, all riders should wear seat belts.

According to the IIHS study, when a backseat passenger does not wear a seatbelt during a collision, that unbelted passenger “can slam into the driver’s seat, pushing the driver into the airbag and steering wheel with a 35 mile per hour impact.”  Jessica Jermakian, an IIHS senior research engineer and a co-author of the study, states “in the rear seat a lap/shoulder belt is the primary means of protection in a frontal crash. Without it, bodies can hit hard surfaces or other people at full speed, leading to serious injuries.”

As part of the study, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety conducted a simulated car crash. The findings? Vehicle drivers are twice as likely to be fatally injured in collision when the passenger behind the driver is not wearing their seat belt.

Collision Injuries

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that unbelted backseat collision injuries and deaths became of high interest after such incidents as the death of Princess Diana in 1997 and newsman Bob Simon in 2015. Jermakian states “That crash brought a lot of attention to the issue, but people still think they are safer in the backseat and they don’t need to buckle up.” However, Jermakian says that it is quite the opposite. “…The laws of physics aren’t suspended just because you’ve moved to the backseat. You still need to buckle up to get the best protection in a crash.”

In line with the old saying, seat belts do save lives. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, it is estimated that seatbelts saved 13,941 lives in 2015. When seatbelts are worn, the risk of death of front seat passengers is reduced by 45 percent for cars and increases to 60 percent for passengers of SUVs, pickup trucks, or vans. The Administration additionally estimated that 2,800 deaths could be prevented if everyone buckled up when they got into a vehicle.

Buckle Up for Safety

So, buckling up is clearly important. But what are car companies and legislation makers doing make sure people buckle up?

A few things such as:

  • alert tones
  • warning lights
  • strong, well-communicated laws

And surprisingly, these things are encouraging passengers to buckle up. According to the IIHS study, 75 percent of the surveyed said they would buckle up if they were reminded to do so. Another 73 percent said they would buckle up if the driver was concerned about being pulled over for an infraction. 62 percent of those surveyed said they would buckle up if they had an audible reminder.

While car makers are listening to survey results and installing seat belt reminding technology, legislators are working to pass laws requiring drivers and passengers alike to wear seat belts. Currently, 29 states and Washington, D.C. require rear passengers to buckle up. Of those 30, 20 states have primary enforcement rules, or rather rules stating that police can pull over a car specifically because someone isn’t wearing a seat belt. Illinois is one of these states.

There is no new advice when it comes to wearing a seat belt.

It’s simple.

Buckle up!

About the Firm


Ronald F. Wittmeyer, Jr. practices plaintiffs' personal injury law at his office in Arlington Heights, Illinois.

About Ron

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