Backseat passengers are at a greater risk of harm in car accidents

A recent study shows that backseat passengers are more likely to die in motor vehicle accidents than those in the front seat. Here’s why.

If you believe that it is safer for passengers to ride in the backseat of your car, you may need to think again. Studies are revealing that backseat passengers are at a higher risk of death than those in front seats.

Good News - Bad News

Over the past number of years, safety for drivers and front seat passengers has greatly improved. The death rate has fallen primarily due to advances in safety measures, such as the addition of electronic stability control in SUVs, structural changes and side air bags in newer model cars. Unfortunately, advances in safety measures for backseat passengers have not improved.

According to a recent study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, passengers in the backseat are 46 percent more likely to die in a car crash than front seat passengers and drivers. The study revealed that while backseats are still the safest place for children under the age of 13, in general, as the age of the backseat passenger increases, so does his or her risk of death during a motor vehicle accident.

Two high-profile deaths this year emphasize the dangers for backseat passengers. John Forbes Nash Jr., the mathematician whose life inspired the film "A Beautiful Mind," and 60 Minutes correspondent Bob Simon died in separate accidents earlier this year after being thrown from the backseats of the vehicles they were in upon impact. Neither were wearing seatbelts.

Many people fail to wear seatbelts when they travel in taxies, rented Town Cars or limo vans. Unfortunately, a rider can sustain serious personal injuries even at slow speeds. "Partition Face" is a name doctors have for facial injuries suffered by riders who slam into the partitions dividing the front and back seats. While seatbelts may help you avoid harm, especially at slower speeds, adults age 55 and older are more likely to die in the backseat than the front, even when belted in.

What can you do if you suffer an injury in a car or truck accident?

Even when you take all reasonable precautions, you or a loved one may be harmed during a car accident. If a distracted driver, negligent truck driver or a defective motor vehicle part - such as a seatbelt or air bag - caused your injuries, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses, including:

  • Medical expenses and continued care
  • Lost income and future wages
  • Pain and suffering

An experienced California attorney can help you and your family with your recovery following a motor vehicle or other type of personal injury accident.