What is Seat Belt Syndrome?

Seat Belt Syndrome

Motor vehicles have several safety features exclusively designed to help save lives during a car accident: Emergency brakes, blind spot detection, airbags, and seat belts, to name a few. Florida also has specific laws requiring the use of seat belts. However, none of these components are fail proof. In fact, there have been instances where, even though a seatbelt may have saved a person from being ejected from their vehicle, they had also caused severe injuries.

3 Common Seat Belt Injuries in Car Accidents

In accidents where either of the vehicles was driving at excessive speed, the blunt restraint of a seat belt could cause a long list of injuries. The most common ones include the following:

1. Injuries to Ribs

Signs that you’ve injured your ribs include:

  • Tight feeling in your chest
  • Grinding sensation when you move
  • Intense pain that increases when you take deep breaths, cough, or sneeze
  • Tenderness to the touch
  • Swelling

2. Internal Organ Damage

Due to the pressure on your abdomen caused by seat belts, certain organs are prone to injury during an accident, especially the heart, lungs, and kidneys. Signs that you’re experiencing such damage include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Intense chest or abdominal pain
  • Blood in your urine or bowel movements
  • Incontinence
  • Feeling weak
  • Swelling of the abdomen

If you’re experiencing internal bleeding, you may vomit blood, look pale, feel dizzy, fatigued, cold, or lose consciousness. Do not wait to experience these symptoms, as they can be life-threatening. If you’ve been involved in a car accident, seek medical attention.

3. Neck Injuries

Seat belt injuries to your neck can affect your cervical vertebrae, spinal cord, and carotid arteries, which are the main blood vessels that supply blood to the brain, neck, and face.

All of the above-mentioned seat belt injuries can be even more dangerous if they happen to a child. Due to their smaller size and propensity to move the shoulder strap behind their neck to feel more comfortable, they are more prone to experiencing them. Another reason they’re more likely to suffer from these types of injuries is that the lap portion of the seat belt typically rests on their abdomen. So if there’s a crash, their body is propelled forward in great force, then slammed back into the seat, causing severe injuries to internal organs. This is why it’s so important to always provide them with a car seat or booster seat until they are at least 4’9 in height.

Despite the fact that wearing a seatbelt can cause so much damage, failing to wear it can be much worse, often causing a person to become disfigured, permanently disabled, or even die.

Seat Belt Syndrome Symptoms

Seat belt injuries are so common, that certain injuries are known within the medical community as Seat Belt Syndrome. It’s important to remember that many of the symptoms don’t show up at the time of the accident, when adrenaline is in full swing. However, once things calm down, you may experience some or all of the following:

  • Intense pain in the abdomen
  • Bruising
  • Weakness
  • Dizziness
  • Blood in urine
  • Blood in bowel movements
  • Vomiting
  • Coughing up blood
  • Breathing difficulties

Left untreated, seat belt syndrome may result in complications or permanent disability. They can also be fatal.

If you’ve been involved in a car accident, there are many elements you need to consider that will require prompt attention: current medical visits, future medical visits, lost wages while you recover, future loss of wages if there are any complications or disability. The only way to assess the extent of damage is to obtain a thorough medical evaluation as soon as possible after the accident as well as consult with an attorney who’s experienced in car accident cases. This way, you can ensure your medical needs and legal rights are fully covered.

Call Us at Clark Hartpence Law for a Free Consultation

If you or someone you love was involved in a car accident, call us at (855) 680-4911 or schedule a free consultation. The longer you wait, the higher the chance of missing the opportunity to file for certain damages, or obtain reliable evidence for your case.

Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and does not create an attorney/client relationship.