What Types of Injuries Can Seat Belts Cause?

Car Accident | January 10, 2022

Seat belts may be one of the most effective vehicle safety features ever invented, but this does not mean that the technology is perfect – nor that you will escape every auto collision unscathed. In fact, some injuries are caused by seat belts. In general, these injuries are less serious than they would have been had a victim not been wearing a seat belt, so it is important to always buckle up. That being said, your seat belt could leave you with the following injuries that must be treated right away.

Cuts and Bruises

Some of the most common seat belt injuries are cuts, scrapes and bruises from the strap of the belt cutting into the skin and soft tissues in an accident. Straining against a seat belt that is keeping you in place under extreme force can lead to cuts where the belt dug into your skin, such as along your shoulder or neck. You may also notice visible bruises where your seat belt touched.

Rib Fractures or Dislocations

The rib cage is vulnerable to seat belt injuries in a car accident. If the force of the crash pushes you into your seat belt with enough power, it could fracture one of your ribs. In turn, a fractured rib could puncture one of your lungs. Even if a rib does not break, it could become dislocated or bruised – causing a significant amount of pain and discomfort for several weeks or months.

Chest and Sternum Injuries

Aside from the rib cage, a seat belt could also injure other parts of the torso, including the chest and sternum. Where the shoulder belt rests across the chest could become a direct point of impact in a car accident, causing injuries such as bruising or fractures. The danger with chest and sternum injuries is the possibility of them affecting the underlying organs: your heart and lungs.

Shoulder Injuries

Injuries to the soft tissues in the shoulder are commonly caused by seat belts in car accidents. The tendons, ligaments and muscle fibers in the shoulder can be torn by the force of impact with the seat belt. This can cause pain, discomfort and temporary immobility. Treatments for soft-tissue injuries often include using ice to reduce swelling and inflammation, taking over-the-counter pain medications, and using physical therapy to restore motion.

Internal Injuries

The pressure from a seat belt in a car accident can affect your abdomen and internal organs – especially if the seat belt was not sitting properly across the hips. Organ damage may affect the kidneys, liver, heart, lungs and other parts of the body from the force of impact between the abdomen and the seat belt. You may not notice internal injuries right away, but they can cause internal bleeding, hemorrhaging or organ failure that could be fatal – making immediate medical care key.

Severed Spinal Cord

In the most severe cases, the impact between the human body and the seat belt could cause a serious spinal cord injury, such as a fracture or severed spine. These injuries are more common in vulnerable child car accident victims. A serious spinal cord injury could cause permanent paralysis, or loss of feeling and function below the level of injury.

Injured in a Car Accident? Contact an Attorney for Assistance

Some seat belt injuries are immediately noticeable, with symptoms such as severe pain or trouble breathing. In other cases, however, the symptoms of a seat belt injury may not arise for hours or even days after the crash. It is important to see a doctor immediately after a car accident in Massachusetts, even if you do not think you have been injured. A doctor can diagnose a seat belt injury before you notice signs or symptoms. If you are diagnosed with a seat belt injury, contact a car accident lawyer in Lowell, MA for legal assistance as soon as possible. You may be eligible for financial compensation from one or more parties.