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Do seat belts really save lives?

We've all heard the story of the person who died because they were trapped inside their vehicle by their seat belt. Since the seat belt wouldn't disengage, the occupant could not get out of the car - ultimately leading to his or her death.

The details of the story change depending on the source. Sometimes the car bursts into flames while the occupant is trapped inside. Other stories have the car crashing through a barrier and sinking into a lake below, also while the driver is stuck in his or her seat belt.

If only the driver had not been wearing a seat belt, the story goes, then he or she could certainly have escaped the vehicle and rushed to safety.

Just how true are these stories? Urban legend debunking guru Snopes took on this question, looking into a claim that seat belts cause as many injuries as they prevent. The report dug into details, noting the crashes in these stories often include victims that are innocent, good members of society or those just beginning a new and exciting part of life. Victims like young children, newlyweds on their way to a honeymoon or other tragic tales.

Ultimately, these stories were given a false rating.

The piece points out that passengers and drivers are far more likely to suffer from death or serious injury when thrown from the vehicle because they were not wearing a seat belt.

Snopes also pointed to a piece by Ann Landers and another by Dear Abby looking into the same issue for additional support. Each featured a policeman who stated he'd "seen his share of accidents" but had "never unbuckled a dead man."

Are seat belts really important? According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), seat belts are extremely important. Car crashes remain the top cause of death for those ranging in age from 1 to 54. The best way to better ensure safety, according to the federal agency, is to buckle up.

Of course, even when these steps are taken victims of car accidents can suffer from serious injuries. Depending on the details of the accident, compensation may be available through a personal injury lawsuit to help cover the costs of medical care and lost wages that result from the accident.

Determining whether to pursue a claim can be difficult. Contact an experienced attorney to discuss your options.

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