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How Resting Your Feet on the Dashboard Can Lead to Life-Altering Injuries

How Resting Your Feet on the Dashboard Can Lead to Life-Altering Injuries

Content warning: This article contains graphic descriptions of auto accident injuries that may be disturbing to some readers.

Ever notice someone cruising down the highway with their car windows open, radio blasting, and legs either sticking out the window or resting atop the dashboard? It’s not an uncommon scene on many summer afternoons. But, tragically, traveling that way could cause you to suffer a traumatic long-term injury.

That’s because your vehicle’s built-in safety devices – think airbags and seatbelts – are designed to function best while you’re properly seated in the vehicle. Which means sitting face forward with your legs on the floor and your seatbelt snugly fastened across your waist and hips. Any deviation from this crash-test-dummy-approved posture puts you at higher risk of being severely injured in a crash — whether your driver or passenger. And, ironically, the biggest danger likely stems from one of your car’s most important safety features: its airbags.

As we explained in a previous article, automotive airbags definitely save lives. They’re engineered to protect you from front-impact crashes (and sometimes side-impact collisions) by absorbing forces that would otherwise tend to throw you forward into the dashboard or cause you to careen through the windshield. However, if your legs get in the way of the airbag’s explosive expansion, your hip bones can literally be ripped from their sockets, and your knees could even get pushed backwards into your eye sockets with astounding impact. It isn’t pretty to imagine, and it can be physically devastating, as one woman found when a trip from Michigan to Canada ended in a horrible crash. But she isn’t the only person to have experienced catastrophic injuries caused by sitting with her legs raised off the floor. A Georgia woman also fell victim to life-changing harm when the car in which she was riding t-boned a vehicle that crossed in front of hers. The results of that crash were truly horrific, ending her career as an EMS worker and dramatically affecting her health for years after the incident.

Our advice is always to sit as the automotive engineers intended: facing the front of the vehicle, wearing your seatbelt, with your feet firmly planted on the floor. And there are a few other compelling reasons besides your own personal safety to do so. Let us explain.

Are You Considered Legally Responsible for Your Injuries if You’re Sitting Incorrectly in Your Vehicle?

You could be. Michigan law reduces legal settlement amounts for people who are found to have contributed to an accident based on the percentage of their responsibility for those injuries. This is a concept known as comparative negligence. For instance, if you were going a few miles over the speed limit when someone ran a red light and hit your vehicle, a jury could find you shared some portion of blame for the crash. As a result, this can mean that any financial compensation you’d receive in a personal injury lawsuit settlement would be reduced accordingly. Our advice is to simply avoid such a circumstance by sitting in your car as the automotive design engineers intended – safely facing forward, wearing your seatbelt, with your feet resting on the car’s floor.


Is Placing My Feet on the Dash or Out the Window Illegal if I’m a Passenger?

Nothing in state law explicitly prohibits you from sitting with your feet up as a passenger — or even as a driver for that matter. But, of course, we’d advise you to think twice before doing so. Sure, it can be nice to stretch out, to put your feet out the window to catch the breeze, and even to recline your seat all the way back for a well-deserved nap (as long as you’re a passenger). But if you truly need to stretch your legs or take a break during a long trip, it’s far safer and less risky to simply pull over at one of our state’s pleasant rest areas, take a brisk walk, and then resume your trip refreshed and ready to travel. Sure, you may arrive at your destination a few minutes later than planned, but at least you’ll get there in one piece. And, after all, isn’t that the best option?

There is something else to consider. If your driving position could possibly be described as leading to “careless or negligent operation” of a motor vehicle, you could be charged with a civil infraction for endangering other people or property. It would be up to a jury to decide if putting your feet on the dashboard or sticking them out the car’s window qualifies as careless or negligent behavior. But why would you even want to take that chance?


What Should I Do if I’m Hurt in a Crash When My Feet Were on the Dashboard?

Seek immediate emergency medical care; unfortunately, you will very likely need it. Then, if your injuries were caused by someone else’s negligence or irresponsible driving, call a Mike Morse Law Firm attorney right away. We’ll help you determine the appropriate next steps to take so you can be fairly compensated for your pain and suffering, medical bills, lost wages, or any other damages you might have experienced resulting from the crash. While you may indeed be partially at fault for your injuries, you shouldn’t have to pay the full price for what happened. Our number, as always, is 855-MIKE-WINS (855-645-3946). Pick up the phone or contact us online and we’ll do everything we can to help you.