Wisconsin has one of the nation’s strictest seat belt laws, and road safety advocates have urged lawmakers in other parts of the country to follow the Badger State’s example. All passenger vehicle occupants in Wisconsin must fasten their seat belts, and the results of a study published recently in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health reveals that taking this safety precaution could prevent them from suffering potentially fatal liver injuries in a crash.

The researchers studied motor vehicle accident statistics gathered between 2010 and 2015 from the National Trauma Data Bank, and they discovered that accident victims who suffered severe liver injuries died almost twice as often as those who suffered moderate or minor liver injuries. They also found that vehicle occupants who were properly restrained were far less likely to suffer a serious liver injury. The researchers say that this is a key discovery because the liver is one of the organs most often injured in car accidents and cannot be removed by surgeons.

The road safety study also reveals that airbags alone provide little protection against liver injuries. However, combining airbags with seat belts gave drivers the best chance of escaping a crash with only minor injuries. Automobile accidents in the United States kill more than 30,000 people, cause millions of injuries and cost the economy almost $1 trillion each year.

Vehicle occupants who suffer injuries in a crash may be able to pursue compensation under the state’s comparative negligence law, but any damages they receive will be reduced if they were not wearing a seat belt. This means that experienced personal injury attorneys may approach the issue of liability in car accident cases carefully, and they might call on medical specialists and accident experts to establish that their clients would have suffered serious injuries even if they had been properly restrained.

Source: State of Wisconsin Department of Transportation, Seat Belt Law