Seat belts are a critical safety feature in vehicles that have saved many lives in car accidents, but is there such a thing as seat belt injuries? As essential as seat belts are, they aren’t without risk. It is possible to sustain a seat belt injury – like a concussion or seat belt syndrome – if you’ve been in a car accident where you were wearing your seat belt.

Today’s blog discusses seat belt injuries in-depth, covering how they happen, the types of injuries they can cause, and preventative measures you can take to prevent those injuries. In short, this blog will tell you everything you need to know about seat belt injuries. Keep reading to educate yourself on these injuries and how to properly wear a seat belt.

Types of Seat Belt Injuries

When it comes to seat belt injuries, you probably think of broken bones and concussions. And while these are prevalent injuries, there are rarer injuries, like “seat belt sign” and aortic transections, that are severe and deadly if left untreated. 

This section examines common injuries, rare injuries, and improper seat belt use, so you’ll know what to do if you’re in a crash.

Common Injuries

The most common seat belt injuries include contusions, abrasions, and fractures. Contusions are bruises on the skin and underlying tissues due to the force of the seat belt. Abrasions are cuts or scrapes caused by the seat belt rubbing against the skin. Neither contusions nor abrasions are that severe, but they can be very painful.
Fractures can result from the seat belt restraining your body, causing a sudden jolt that can break bones. Fractures are more serious, require medical intervention, and take time to heal, often leaving the injured person in a cast or splint. 

Another common type of injury is whiplash, which can occur when your head is suddenly jerked forward and backward during an accident, causing neck pain and stiffness. These injuries can range from minor to severe, so seeking medical attention as soon as possible after an accident is essential. 

Rare Injuries

While contusions, abrasions, fractures, and whiplash are the most common types of seat belt injuries, some rare injuries can occur. One such injury is called “seat belt sign,” which is a pattern of bruising or abrasions across the abdomen caused by the seat belt restraining the body during a crash.
Another rare injury is aortic transection, which occurs when the force of the seat belt causes a tear in the aorta, the body’s largest artery. This is a life-threatening injury that requires immediate medical attention. 

Finally, seat belt syndrome is a rare injury that can occur when the seat belt is not positioned correctly across the body, leading to abdominal injuries. While seat belt syndrome is rare, it can have severe consequences, so it’s crucial to be aware of them and take steps to prevent them by using seat belts and positioning them correctly.

Improper Seat Belt Use

Injuries caused by improper seat belt use can be severe and even life-threatening. One common error is failing to buckle the seat belt, which can result in being ejected from the vehicle during an accident. Another error is wearing the seat belt incorrectly, such as placing the shoulder belt behind the back or under the arm.

Children not adequately restrained in a car or booster seat can also suffer severe injuries during an accident. Failing to adjust the seat belt for your body size and height can result in injuries such as whiplash and fractures. 

It’s essential to use seat belts correctly every time you are in a vehicle to prevent these types of injuries and ensure your safety in case of an accident.

Causes of Seat Belt Injuries

Vehicle accidents, malfunctioning seat belts, and poorly designed seat belts are the leading causes of injuries. Let’s take a closer look.

Vehicle Accidents

Vehicle accidents can trigger seat belt injuries due to the sudden and forceful impact of the crash. When a vehicle collides with another object or comes to a sudden stop, the occupants are thrown forward with a significant amount of force. 

If the individual is not wearing a seat belt, they can be thrown from the vehicle or hit the vehicle’s interior, leading to severe injuries or even death. Seat belts can help prevent these injuries by restraining the body during an accident to avoid ejection or hitting the vehicle’s interior. However, the force of the impact can still cause injuries, such as bruises, fractures, and whiplash, even with a properly worn seat belt. 

While seat belt injuries can occur, it’s important to remember that wearing a seat belt is the best way to protect yourself in case of an accident. Not wearing a seat belt causes even more deadly accidents.

Malfunctioning Seat Belts

A defective seat belt might fail to engage during a collision, causing the occupant to be thrown forward and hit the vehicle’s interior, resulting in severe injuries. 

Alternatively, the seat belt could engage during a minor accident, causing unnecessary pressure on the body that leads to bruises, fractures, or other injuries. The seat belt might sometimes become tangled or jammed, preventing the occupant from properly buckling up or releasing the belt after an accident. 

It’s essential to inspect your vehicle’s seat belts regularly and have any issues addressed by a qualified mechanic to prevent malfunctioning seat belts and potential injuries. If you believe a defective seat belt caused your injuries, it’s vital to contact a personal injury lawyer to discuss your legal options.

Poorly Designed Seat Belts

A poorly designed seat belt can injure the occupant during an accident. A seat belt that is too loose or too tight can cause unnecessary pressure on the body, leading to bruises, fractures, or other injuries. 

An unadjustable seat belt might not fit different-sized occupants, leaving them vulnerable to injury in an accident. A seat belt designed with weak materials or inadequate stitching may fail to hold up during a collision, causing the occupant to be thrown forward and hit the vehicle’s interior. 

Choosing a vehicle with properly designed and tested seat belts is essential to ensure the safety of all occupants. If you believe a poorly designed seat belt caused your injuries, you should speak to a personal injury lawyer to see if you can be compensated for your pain and suffering.

Risk Factors for Seat Belt Injuries

Age, gender, and seat belt use are all risk factors for seat belt injuries. Studies have shown that older adults are more likely to sustain severe injuries from seat belts due to pre-existing medical conditions that make them more vulnerable. 

Women are also at a higher risk of seat belt injuries due to differences in body size and shape, which can affect the fit of the seat belt and lead to pressure injuries. 

Not wearing a seat belt increases the risk of injury in an accident or collision. However, wearing a seat belt incorrectly can also increase the risk of injury, especially if the seat belt is located over a vulnerable part of the body. 

It’s important to understand these risk factors and take steps to mitigate them by always wearing a seat belt properly and ensuring that the seat belt is adjusted to your body size and shape.

Preventing Seat Belt Injuries With Proper Seat Belt Use

The first step to prevent seat belt injuries is ensuring everyone wears a seat belt properly. The lap belt should be positioned low across the hips, and the shoulder belt should be across the chest and over the shoulder, away from the neck. 

It’s also essential to ensure that the seat belt is snug but not too tight and that it is adjusted to fit the occupant’s body size and shape. If pregnant, ensure the lap belt is positioned under your belly and across your hips. Children should be seated in a properly installed car or booster seat, according to age and weight. 

Maintaining your vehicle’s seat belts, including checking for fraying or damage to the webbing, and ensuring that the seat belt retractors are working correctly is vital. By following these safety tips, you can help prevent seat belt injuries and ensure that everyone in your vehicle stays safe in the event of an accident.

How Seat Belt Injuries Can Impact You 

Seat belt injuries can significantly impact a person’s physical, psychological, and social well-being. 

Physically, seat belt injuries can range from minor cuts and bruises to more severe injuries like broken bones, internal bleeding, and spinal cord injuries. These injuries can lead to chronic pain, limited mobility, and a decreased quality of life. 

Psychologically, seat belt injuries can cause anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), especially if the person has been involved in a serious accident. 

Socially, seat belt injuries can lead to missed work or school, strained relationships, and a loss of independence due to limited mobility. 

It’s essential to seek medical attention and support after a seat belt injury to address the physical and psychological effects and prevent any long-term impact on one’s social well-being.

Seat Belt Injury Treatment

After sustaining a seat belt injury, seeking medical treatment is crucial to address any physical injuries and prevent potential complications. 

Depending on the severity of the injury, rehabilitation may also be necessary to regain strength, mobility, and flexibility. This may include physical therapy, occupational therapy, or other specialized treatments. It’s important to work closely with healthcare professionals to create a personalized treatment plan that addresses your specific needs and goals. 

Along with physical treatment, mental health support may also be necessary to address any emotional or psychological trauma stemming from the accident. This may include counseling or therapy to manage anxiety, depression, or PTSD. Seeking support from friends, family, and support groups can also be beneficial in the recovery process. 

Overall, seeking medical treatment, rehabilitation, and mental health support after sustaining a seat belt injury can help individuals regain their physical and emotional well-being and improve their quality of life.

Seat Belt Injury Cost

Seat belt injuries can have significant financial costs, including medical bills and quality of life costs. 

Depending on the severity of the injury, medical bills for treatment, rehabilitation, and ongoing care can quickly add up, leading to financial strain for individuals and families. 

In addition to medical bills, seat belt injuries can also lead to quality-of-life costs such as lost wages, decreased work productivity, and a reduced ability to participate in daily activities. These costs can have a long-term impact on an individual’s financial stability and overall well-being. 

It’s essential to consider these costs when seeking medical treatment and support and explore options for financial assistance and compensation if another party’s negligence caused the injury.

Contact Flickinger Boulton Gooch & Robson Today

No one ever plans to be in a car crash. They are as unexpected as they are devastating and costly, with the effects of the accident potentially affecting you for months if not years. But the good news is that you’re not alone. 

If you’ve sustained a seat belt injury in a car accident, you could be entitled to compensation for your injuries, medical bills, lost wages, etc. The lawyers at Flickinger Boulton Gooch & Robson are here to help. With over 150 years of combined experience in personal injury law, we’re here to fight for you to get you the compensation you deserve. 

We have offices in Provo and West Jordan, and we offer free case evaluations, where we determine how we can best help you. Call us at 801.500.4000, or contact us through the form on our website to schedule yours. Don’t wait to get the help you deserve; get started today!