Woman Paralysed By Car Passenger Without Seatbelt During Crash Tells Passengers "Belt Up!"

Dorset Woman Still In Hospital Seven Months After Crash

21.06.2016

Hayley Court, Press Officer | 0114 274 4255

A woman left unable to walk when a passenger in the back of her car not wearing a seatbelt slammed into the back of her seat during a crash is warning people to ensure they belt up to reduce the risks of serious injuries.

Liz McMillan, from Poole, Dorset, was in the front passenger seat of a car when the driver collided with the car in front at a roundabout. The rear passenger, was thrown forward by the impact, crushing into the seat leaving Liz with severe life-changing injuries.

Liz, who instructed serious injury specialists at Irwin Mitchell’s Southampton office to help secure her funds to support a programme of injury rehabilitation, was left with a broken neck and severe spinal injuries for which she’s still receiving treatment. She has been unable to walk since the crash on August 26 last year.

“My own experience has taught me how easily these things are overlooked,” said the 71-year-old.

“Maybe a rear passenger might unclick their seatbelt because they’re squashed into the back with others, or they’re feeling alienated from the front seat conversation so unstrap themselves to move forward in their seat to join the chatter. But doing that doesn’t just put yourself at risk – maybe that’s a chance you’re willing to take – it can leave others with life threatening or, in my case, life changing injuries. That’s the legacy of failing to do a three-second job; belting up.”

Not wearing a seat belt in the front of a vehicle became against the law on January 31, 1983. The law changed again eight years later, when seatbelts for adults in the back of a car became compulsory.

You are twice as likely to die in a collision if you do not wear a seat belt and 300 more lives could be saved every year if all occupants belted up.

Statistically, the worst offenders are drivers and passengers aged 17-34 who have both the lowest seatbelt-wearing rates combined with the highest accident rate.
According to the government Think campaign, there is evidence that people are less likely to use seatbelts on short or familiar journeys.

Drivers and passengers who fail to wear seatbelts in the front and back of vehicles are breaking the law and drivers caught without a seatbelt face on-the-spot fines of £100. If prosecuted, the maximum fine is £500.

Expert Opinion
“Liz’s ordeal shows just how serious the consequences can be when a person decides not to use their seatbelt.

“Irwin Mitchell is working with Liz to ensure she gets the help, support and treatment she needs to be able to achieve the best recovery possible and move on with her life.

“Despite requiring significant rehabilitation over the coming weeks and months, Liz has always been determined to share her experience so others may think twice before disregarding their seatbelts.”
Claire Howard, Partner

In 2007, Think released “Julie knew her killer”, a powerful television advert which saw the driver’s son, who was not wearing a seatbelt, crush Julie to death during impact when the force of the crash thrust him into the back of the driver’s seat.

“Maybe it’s time for another campaign,” said Liz, “or maybe it’s time everyone thought about the consequences of not wearing a seatbelt and take immediate action.

“In the crash I was involved in, both the driver and rear passenger escaped with minor injuries. I however have spent more than nine months in hospital, face further weeks of intensive physiotherapy and the rest of my life in a wheelchair.”

Our specialist serious injury claims team will provide you with free initial advice on your compensation claim if you or a loved one has suffered due a spinal injury. See our Spinal Injury Compensation Claims page for more information.