People have different opinions and feelings about wearing seat belts, but the fact is that they save thousands of lives every year. Despite the protection they provide, however, they can also sometimes cause a serious injury, known as seat belt syndrome, after a crash.
This article talks more about seat belt syndrome, including what it is and how to include these damages in a claim. We also discuss when this injury could be severe or even life-threatening.
Injured in a crash caused by another driver’s negligence? Our knowledgeable Harrisburg car crash lawyers are here to help. We offer a completely free case review to help you understand your legal options. If we represent you, there are no upfront costs or fees to pay.
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What Is Seat Belt Syndrome and How Could a Car Crash Cause This Injury?
Seat belt syndrome is a term used to describe a range of injuries that may sometimes result from wearing a seat belt during a car crash. The force exerted by a seat belt at impact can be enough to cause fractures, internal organ damage or even spinal injuries.
Safety belts are crucial for helping to protect you from harm in a vehicle, but sometimes seat belts can cause injuries, especially during high-impact collisions. Those who choose not to wear a seat belt, however, are more likely to be ejected from a vehicle and suffer severe injuries if a crash occurs. This is why your chances of survival during a car crash are still far greater when you wear a seat belt than if you do not.
When Seat Belt Syndrome Could Be Severe or Life-Threatening
The severity of a seat belt injury depends on multiple factors, such as the speed the vehicle was traveling at the time of the crash and the angle of impact. Another critical factor is whether the person was wearing the seat belt as intended by the manufacturers.
Injuries can range from minor bruising and abrasions to more serious issues, like internal bleeding or organ damage. In some cases, the force exerted by the seat belt can cause a “seat belt sign” injury. This injury is so named because of the visible bruising pattern it leaves on the skin. Do not let this seemingly minor injury fool you though, as it could be a sign of severe internal injuries. Some seat belt injuries may be life-threatening, especially if there is internal bleeding or organ damage.
Are There Signs or Symptoms That May Indicate Seat Belt Syndrome?
After a car crash, you should be alert for any symptoms that seem out of the ordinary. Symptoms of seat belt syndrome may include:
- Seat belt marks across the victim’s abdomen, which may look like bruising, abrasions or lacerations.
- Bruising that crosses the victim at a 45-degree angle from the shoulder on one side of the body to the hip on the other side
- Vomiting or coughing up blood
- Abdominal pain or cramping
- Feeling weak in the legs
- Blood in the stool (appearance is black, tarry stool) or urine
- Changes in urination or bowel movements
- Difficulty breathing
If you experience these and other symptoms, you should get to a nearby emergency room as soon as possible. Be sure to say you were in a car crash and describe your symptoms to the doctor who examines you.
How Is Seat Belt Syndrome Diagnosed and Treated?
Seat belt injuries are diagnosed through a physical examination. You will also need diagnostic testing, such as X-rays, CT scans or MRIs. These tests help doctors assess the extent of your injuries and determine what medical treatment you may need.
Treatment for a seat belt injury varies and depends on the severity, type and location of the damage. Generally, speaking, treatment may include some or all of the following:
- Medical evaluation, testing and diagnosis
- Pain management
- Immobilizing/resetting fractures
- Surgical intervention, such as for severe internal organ damage
Spinal injuries may require more specialized treatment, including long-term rehabilitation. However, this is also dependent on the severity, location and type of damage to the spinal cord. Spinal cord injuries often require long-term care and may also result in secondary complications.
Can I Include the Damages for These Injuries in My Injury Claim?
You may be eligible to claim damages for a seat belt injury, but this is dependent on various factors. An attorney would need to review your situation to determine if you have a claim and what damages you may be able to seek.
If you have a valid case, you may be able to recover compensation these damages, such as:
- Reasonable and necessary medical costs related to the crash
- Wages lost while you recovered at home
- Property damages
- Physical therapy
- Accommodations to your home, if needed
- Mobile assistive devices, such as a wheelchair or crutches
- Pain and suffering (non-economic) damages, such as anxiety, depression, disfigurement, loss of enjoyment and more
What Is the Value of a Seat Belt Syndrome Injury?
The value of a seat belt syndrome claim depends on the extent of the injuries and their impact on your life. Multiple factors must be considered, such as:
- Severity and type of injuries
- Amount of time to recover
- How much work you missed
- Long-term effects of your injuries
- Extent of treatments and or surgery required
- Number of hospital stays
- Impact on your overall quality of life
- And more
In some cases, if the injury leads to chronic pain, surgery or long-term disability, the value of your claim could be higher. This is due to the ongoing impact on your quality of life. An experienced attorney can tell you more after reviewing the details of your situation.
Injured in a PA Car Crash? Call Schmidt Kramer for Legal Help Today.
If you were injured in a Pennsylvania car crash due to the negligence of another party, you may be eligible to seek compensation for the damages you sustained.
Not sure if you have a case? Most people are unsure of their legal options after a car crash. That is why we offer a completely free case review. Get answers to your questions and find out whether you have a valid compensation case against the other party.
There are no upfront costs if you are eligible to file a claim. We take injury cases on contingency, which means we only get paid if you do.
Call today to find out how we may be able to help you. 877-877-2228