What are the Signs of a Seat Belt Injury?

Car Accident,Personal Injury | November 17, 2021

A seat belt is a critical vehicle safety feature that is credited with saving approximately 15,000 lives per year. Yet, in some car accident cases, the seat belt is what causes a victim’s injuries. Even when a seat belt saves a life, the pressure of the body being thrown against the belt in a car accident can in itself inflict injuries. Knowing how to recognize the signs of a seat belt injury can allow you to seek proper medical care and fair financial compensation after a collision.

What is Seat Belt Syndrome? 

Statistically, it is safer to wear a seat belt than not to wear one. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, buckling up reduces the risk of suffering serious injuries or dying in a car accident by about 50 percent. Seat belts save more lives than all other vehicle safety technologies combined. However, they have also been known to cause injuries, in certain circumstances. Injuries caused by a seat belt in a car accident are referred to as seat belt syndrome.

Seat belt syndrome can describe many different injuries caused by the lap and/or shoulder belts. It generally affects the areas where the body and the seat belt come into contact in a car accident, such as the abdomen, midsection, chest, sternum and shoulder. A victim with seat belt syndrome may experience pain, swelling, bruising and other signs of soft-tissue or internal injuries in these parts of the body after a car accident.

Signs and Symptoms of a Seat Belt Injury

You may or may not notice the symptoms of a seat belt injury immediately after a car crash in Massachusetts. Delayed and hidden injuries are common, especially since the adrenaline of a car accident works as a temporary painkiller that can mask pain. In the hours or days following a crash, however, you may start to notice the signs of an injury to the parts of your body that were touching the seat belt. Some of the most common symptoms of seat belt syndrome are:

  • Chest, sternum or rib pain
  • Muscle or tendon injuries in the shoulder
  • Bruising of your midsection
  • Abdominal pain
  • Abnormal bowel movements (a sign of internal bleeding)
  • Loss of feeling or function anywhere in the body
  • Muscle weakness or tingling

In a car accident, a seat belt could dig into the body with enough power to cause blunt-force trauma. This can cause muscle and soft-tissue injuries, internal injuries, spinal cord injuries, broken bones, and even permanent injuries. A seat belt could cause paralysis, for example, if it severs the spine. Serious and catastrophic seat belt injuries are more common in young children. In the worst cases, a seat belt could cause a victim’s death.

Can You Collect Compensation for a Seat Belt Injury?

If you notice any pain, numbness or other symptoms that may be associated with a seat belt injury after a car accident, go to a hospital immediately. You may have internal injuries that require immediate medical care. Once you have received medical treatment and are on the mend, start thinking about your financial recovery options. You may have grounds to file an insurance claim with your own insurance company or the insurer of the other driver involved in your car accident. You may also have the right to file a personal injury lawsuit.

You may be eligible for financial compensation for a seat belt injury in addition to any other injuries that you suffered in the crash. An at-fault party may be liable (financially responsible) for all of the injuries, losses and damages that you suffered in the collision, even if it was your seat belt that caused the injury. You may be entitled to compensation for your related medical bills, treatments, medications, rehabilitation, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. For assistance seeking fair compensation for a seat belt injury, contact a car accident attorney in Lowell, MA at Merrimack Valley Injury Lawyers today.