Wheelchairs in Auto Accidents
I’m Ed Smith, a Car Accident Lawyer in Sacramento. Americans with disabilities have made some legislative advancement in recent years. Among their accomplishments has been an increase in the awareness regarding people with disabilities. Many vehicles are now accessible to wheelchairs. Unfortunately, wheelchairs are often not strapped down properly in cars. If an accident happens, this can lead to severe injuries.
For the average person riding in a car, there are safety measures in place. Seatbelts help restrain them from flying out of their seat. Airbags can cushion an impact between a passenger and the inside of a car. According to statistics from Airbag Physics, using a seatbelt provides a reduction of 30 percent in the number of severe head injuries. Furthermore, using both a belt and an airbag can reduce the frequency of serious head injuries by up to 85 percent. These numbers are compared to drivers who use no seatbelt or airbag. For someone in a wheelchair, many of these prevention devices don’t function the same way. If the chair isn’t strapped to the floor, it could be tossed throughout the vehicle in the event of an auto accident. When this happens, someone in a wheelchair could sustain serious injuries.
Injuries Related to Wheelchairs
According to statistics from the Journal of Injury Prevention, over 100,000 visits to the emergency department were due to injuries related to wheelchairs. The vast majority of these injuries were due to the wheelchair tipping over. Even though a wheelchair has a low center of gravity, the forces in a motor vehicle can change suddenly. About 20 percent of these injuries involved a fracture of some kind. Close to 30 percent of these injuries had sustained a severe laceration. Sadly, many of these individuals did not have any type of safety restraint in the motor vehicle at all. This means that several of these patients sustained some kind of serious head injury as well.
Prevention of Accidents Involving Wheelchairs
Injuries involving people in wheelchairs and cars is a serious problem. Several strategies can be employed to prevent these injuries from happening. Some of these include:
- Transfer to a Standard Seat: First, it is essential for people in wheelchairs to transfer to a standard seat in a car whenever possible. Even though this might not be convenient, it provides the passenger the use of a seatbelt and airbag.
- Ramps and Cranes Must be Available: Second, ramps and cranes should be made available so that a wheelchair can enter and exit a car safely.
- Lock the Brakes: Finally, if transfer to a standard seat is not available, wheelchairs must be strapped to the floor. The brakes should also be locked. This combination should prevent wheelchairs from rolling around while the car is in motion.
Help for Injuries Related to Wheelchairs in Accidents
Someone who is in a wheelchair likely already has extensive medical bills. If they sustain additional injuries in a car accident, these bills are only going to increase. Their deductible could be significant. Coinsurance could be staggering. Families and loved ones with individuals in wheelchairs could be wondering what to do next. A caring car accident attorney in Sacramento is available to provide help to those in need. A lawyer has the training and experience to make this process smoother. They can guide a family through their various decisions and ensure that a determination is made in the family’s best interests. When in need of help, don’t be afraid to ask for it. Legal advice is available to those in need.
Car Accident Lawyers in Sacramento
I’m Ed Smith, a Car Accident Lawyer in Sacramento. If you or a loved one has been hurt in a car accident involving a wheelchair, please call my office at (916) 921-6400 to receive free, friendly advice. You may also call on our toll-free line: (800) 404-5400.
I belong to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, a group of top trial lawyers who have won over $1 million in verdicts and settlements for clients.
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