Seat belt syndrome is the nickname for medical conditions that result from seatbelt injuries sustained in a car crash. Seat belt injuries range from whiplash to blunt force trauma and can affect crash victims in myriad ways. Some injuries take a couple of weeks to get over, while others are life-threatening and require hospitalization. 

Today’s blog discusses the different types of seatbelt injuries and what those recovery timelines can look like. Every injury will have a different timeline since they are all different. Let’s take a closer look.


It might surprise you to know that whiplash can cause seat belt syndrome. When your head snaps back and forth, the jerking motion can cause internal damage. A stomach ache, bruising, and abrasions are signs of seat belt syndrome from whiplash.

You’ll want to treat the whiplash and the seat belt syndrome. Your best bet is to seek immediate care from your medical provider. 

For whiplash, your doctor will test the following:

  • Your range of motion.
  • At what range of motion you feel pain.
  • How tender your neck, shoulders, and back are.
  • How strong your reflexes, strength, and sensation are.

Your doctor may also order imaging tests such as an X-ray, CT scan, or MRI to detect any hidden injuries, which will be treated as they are diagnosed. While you’re healing, your doctor might prescribe muscle relaxants or Xylocaine injections to help you handle the pain. 

Blunt Force Trauma

Blunt force trauma is a bodily injury from the forceful impact that commonly occurs in car accidents. It’s not uncommon to have contusions, abrasions, lacerations, and even fractures from blunt force trauma. 

And that’s just on the surface. Internally, your spleen, liver, kidneys, bladder, and intestines could be injured and require medical care, including surgery. Blunt force trauma can cause blood clots, pulmonary embolisms, aneurysms, and even miscarriages.

That’s why it’s imperative to seek medical care if you were in a car crash and feel stomach pain, get nauseous, or throw up. All of these conditions require immediate medical care. 

Your medical provider will order tests and imaging to ensure proper treatment. As for the timeline, that will depend on the severity of your injuries. Your doctor can also advise you in this area. 


Peritonitis occurs when the peritoneum, the thin tissue layer inside your abdomen and surrounding organs, is inflamed. Peritonitis can result from a bacterial infection, but it can also happen after a car crash. Peritonitis is life-threatening, so you’ll want to visit your nearest emergency room if you have any symptoms.

Symptoms include severe stomach pain, poor appetite, nausea, vomiting, distention, fevers, chills, fluid in the abdomen, and inability to use the restroom.

If your doctor suspects peritonitis, they’ll take a urine sample, perform a CT scan, and remove fluid from your stomach through the paracentesis. Further care will be provided depending on your individual condition, as a number of complications or conditions could arise. 

Systemic Infection

A systemic infection can be extremely dangerous. Instead of being isolated to one organ or body part, a systemic infection affects the entire body. It can be as mild as the flu or as severe as sepsis, a life-threatening infection that can damage your tissues and organs and kill you. 

Sepsis usually starts with a fever and can quickly turn into low blood pressure, an increased heart rate, and difficulty breathing. Sepsis is as bad as it gets, so recovery will take time. You’ll stay in the hospital until you’re stable enough to go home, but it will take time to return to your usual self. 

You’ll likely be exhausted, feel breathless, feel aches and pains, struggle to get around, and have difficulty sleeping. You might also experience weight loss, lack of appetite, peeling skin, brittle nails, and hair loss. Take care of yourself as you recover, and go to all your doctor appointments to ensure your recovery goes as smoothly as possible.

Menstrual Cycle Disruptions

It’s not uncommon for your menstrual cycle to be disrupted by seat belt syndrome. This can happen from your internal organs being damaged or from the stress of the accident, which can easily cause disruptions. 

If you miss your menstrual cycle after a car crash, you should see your OB/GYN. 

Diarrhea or GI Distress

You can have diarrhea or GI distress from seat belt syndrome from your internal organs compressing. See your doctor immediately if you’ve been in a car crash and have diarrhea or GI distress. Your recovery timeline will depend on the severity of your symptoms and your diagnosis. 


You are likely bloated if you feel tightness, pressure, or fullness in your belly. It can be mild and go away on its own within hours or last for days. If you feel intense pain, seeking medical care right away is essential since it could indicate a severe medical condition. Your recovery timeline will depend on your diagnosis and treatment plan. 

Bruised Abdomen

When you bruise your abdomen, blood vessels under the skin break open, and blood leaks into your skin’s tissue, causing blue-black spots on your skin. If you notice these spots on your abdomen, you should go to the doctor, as this can indicate more severe internal bruising or bleeding. 

A bruised abdomen could require surgery, depending on the severity of the injury. Your doctor will advise you on your recovery time.

Call Flickinger Boulton Gooch & Robson Today.

If you were in a car crash and are suffering from any of these conditions, it’s important to seek medical care right away. You should also contact a lawyer, as you could be entitled to compensation for your pain and suffering. 

Flickinger Boulton Gooch & Robson understand how traumatic and painful being in a car crash is, especially when you sustain injuries. Let our lawyers fight for you. Get started today with a free case evaluation to see how we can best help you. Call us at 801.500.4000 or fill out the form on our website to get started.