Seat Belts and Car Accidents

Attorneys and Seat Belt Laws in Massachusetts and Rhode Island

In recent years, the importance of seat belts has become increasingly apparent, leading to a strong national marketing push by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration – “Click it or Ticket” – encouraging drivers to wear them. It has also led to a change in penalties for not wearing seat belts, as many states have made not wearing a seatbelt a primary offense instead of secondary, meaning that a police officer can pull a driver over solely for not wearing a seat belt. In Rhode Island, wearing a seat belt is a primary offense, while it is a secondary offense in Massachusetts.

Studies have shown that, in about half of all car accident fatalities and serious injuries, a seat belt was either not worn or worn improperly, which undoubtedly justifies these changes. However, while seat belts may be the most important safety feature in vehicles, they can sometimes lead to injury themselves, possibly resulting in a product liability claim.

How Seat Belts Can Cause Injury

When an individual – driver or passenger – is in a high-speed collision, a seat belt has a significant duty to perform: to stop a person’s body as quickly as the collision stopped the car. Because of the amount of force involved, some injury from a seat belt is to be expected, typically in the form of cuts and bruises. However, there are certain things that can make the injury much worse, including wearing a seat belt improperly or manufacturer defects.

Wearing a Seat Belt Improperly

Seat belts are designed to restrain the body both across the chest and across the waist. Regardless, some treat the shoulder belt as more of an option, which could actually make any injury caused by the belt much worse. When only the waist belt is worn, it greatly increases the pressure on an individual’s waist area, which can lead to serious internal or spinal injuries. Here are a few basic rules to avoid or mitigate seat belt injury:

  • Both belts should always be used, the waist belt across the waist and under the stomach, the shoulder belt across the chest and under the neck.
  • The shoulder belt should never be tucked under and arm or placed behind the back (even if this is more comfortable for a driver or passenger).
  • The belts should be tight enough so that the person cannot freely move about, but not tight to the point of being uncomforting or constricting.

Manufacturer Defects

Sometimes seat belts break. While this may not come as a surprise, it can nevertheless be devastating for those involved, leading to serious injury or even fatality. The two most common ways this happens is through defects in the seat belt latches, causing the seat belt to detach during a collision, or in the tension detectors, causing a seat belt not to retract after it has been given slack. Either of these defects can lead to product liability claims against the manufacturer of the seat belt.

Contact the Bottaro Law Firm, LLC about Your Seat Belt Malfunction Case

If you have been involved in a car accident during which you or a loved one’s seat belt malfunctioned leading to serious injury or death, we are here to help. Product liability claims are not easy to settle as manufacturers typically reject or ignore a claim that their products are defective. At the Bottaro Law Firm, LLC, we represent individuals against manufacturers to seek just compensation for injuries caused by defective products. We serve all of Rhode Island and Massachusetts, so contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation. More and more, nurses have a larger role in patient assessment and management. As critical care nurses have experienced this increase in patient responsibilities, nursing malpractice lawsuits have also increased. Nursing malpractice occurs when a nurse’s negligence of proper medical duties harms the patient in any way. Considered patient advocates, nurses are required to make medical choices in the patient’s best interest. When claims are filed against a nurse, the question of who is responsible for the negligent nurse arises. In some circumstances, the doctor in charge of the nurse is held accountable. Other cases free the doctor of liability, claiming the hospital responsible. Every case is unique, but there are some basic elements that you may want to consider when pursuing a nursing malpractice claim.

Three Common Elements in Nursing Malpractice

The following scenarios are most prevalent in cases where a nurse’s incompetence results in patient injury or death.

  • Inaction: As the initial line of communication between doctors and patients, it is the nurse’s responsibility to act quickly and efficiently in addressing a patient’s needs. He or she is required to diligently monitor the patient’s condition and react accordingly if a sudden emergency occurs. This could involve necessary and immediate medication alterations or calling for additional help. If the nurse notices an issue and does nothing, he or she may be liable for malpractice. Similarly, if an issue goes unnoticed when it was in the nurse’s scope of practice to notice, a lawsuit may follow.
  • Mishandling Medical Equipment: Medical equipment can cause patient injury in a number of ways. A simple mishap, such as dropping something heavy on a patient, can cause serious injury. Additionally, chronic damage may occur if a nurse misuses oxygen machines, defibrillators, or ventilators for lung therapy. There are countless types of medical equipment, large and small, that may cause harm to a patient.
  • Improper Medication Administration: A large part of a nurse’s duties is to administer medication. This requires intensive training. There are many complex methods of administering drugs, including intravenous (in the veins), intramuscular (in the muscle tissue), and subcutaneous (in the connective tissue between organs). A nurse’s lack of focus or misinterpretation of a physician’s medication orders could prove catastrophic, resulting in a potential malpractice suit.

Ultimate Responsibility

Nursing malpractice differs slightly from regular medical malpractice due to the element of “chain of command.” Both the doctor overseeing the nurse and the hospital in which the injury occurred will be examined to determine ultimate responsibility for the injury. In other words, who is liable for the nurse’s incompetence?

  • The attending doctor may be considered legally and financially responsible if he or she was physically present when the injury occurred, or if he or she could have reasonably prevented the nurse’s negligence. For example, if a nurse accidentally over-medicates the patient during a surgical procedure, the surgeon may be liable.
  • The hospital may be responsible simply for employing the nurse. Similarly, if the nurse was performing expected nursing duties, legal and financial liability may fall on the hospital. If the patient’s doctor was not affiliated with the hospital, therefore not officially the nurse’s supervisor, the hospital may be responsible by default.

The Berkowitz Law Firm, LLC – Medical Malpractice Representation throughout Connecticut

Injury or chronic medical conditions caused by preventable errors may cause emotional trauma and life-altering changes for an entire family. If you have suffered as a result of nursing incompetence, it is your legal right to file a malpractice claim. At The Berkowitz Law Firm, LLC, we believe our clients deserve just compensation for their pain and suffering, lost wages, and overwhelming medical expenses. Serving Fairfield and New Haven counties, founder Russell Berkowitz is widely known as one of the leading medical malpractice attorneys in the state. Contact us today for a free consultation about your case.