Are you wondering, "What are the Symptoms of a Seat Belt Injury?" When someone is involved in a car accident, they may suffer from seat belt syndrome. This means the seat belt left marks and injuries on their abdomen and chest. These injuries may include internal organ damage and spinal fractures.
If you have suffered a seat belt injury in a car accident, you may have a personal injury claim against the insurance company of the driver who hit you. These types of claims can be very complicated for someone who does not have experience dealing with legal matters.
Thankfully you don't have to handle your claim alone. The team at Lonati Law Firm is here to help you.
Our personal injury lawyers in Dallas, Georgia, have over two decades of experience getting justice for injured victims. Contact the Lonati Law Firm today to schedule a free consultation. Call us now at 678-363-3500.
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What are the Symptoms of a Seat Belt Injury or Seat Belt Syndrome?
If you've just been in an accident and go to the hospital, the ER doctor will start by checking your body for seat belt marks such as abrasions or bruises on the skin. In most cases, these marks extend from hip to shoulder, crossing the chest area at a 45-degree angle.
They will also ask you about any symptoms you may be experiencing. These symptoms may include:
Symptoms of Seat Belt Syndrome
- Marks caused by safety belts, such as abrasions or bruises across an accident victim's chest and abdomen
- Strained abdominal muscles
- The legs may feel weak, which may indicate a lower back injury or abdominal injury
- Dizziness may indicate damage to an organ
- Blood in the urine or stool
- Urination or bowel movements changes
- Vomiting or coughing up blood may indicate a stomach injury
- If the victim has difficulty breathing, it may indicate lung injury or heart damage
- It may indicate kidney damage if there is abdominal pain or pain between the hips and ribs
To diagnose this condition, your doctor will conduct an examination and may also order X-rays, a CT scan, or abdominal sonography, which examines the abdominal cavity for free fluid. Occasionally, abdominal surgery, or laparotomy, may be needed to diagnose and treat internal organ injuries. Your diagnosis and treatment will depend on your specific injuries sustained.
How Often Do Internal Injuries Accompany This Condition?
According to research, seat belt syndrome has been associated with internal injuries in as many as 30% of car accident victims. In addition, researchers found that car accident victims who had safety belt marks on their bodies were four to eight times more likely to sustain abdominal and chest injuries than those who did not.
What Injuries and Conditions Do Safety Belts Cause?
Injury to internal organs such as the abdomen, stomach, bowels, intestines, kidneys, bladder, colon, lungs, and heart may result from seat belt syndrome. Also common are vertebral injuries to the lumbar and thoracic spine.
Additionally, car accident victims can suffer stomach pain, diarrhea, and chest pain due to this condition.
It is essential to seek medical attention immediately after any seat belt injury due to the possibility of it becoming life-threatening or resulting in lifelong disability and impairment if not diagnosed and treated.
Seat Belt Lacerations and Abrasions in a Car Accident
Seat belt injuries can be internal or external. For example, you can suffer painful scrapes and cuts if the safety belt and clothing rub against your skin. These scrapes will likely leave an imprint of the seat belt on your body. Treat your wounds promptly to avoid infection.
Chest Injuries Caused by Seat Belts
Bruising and tenderness at the injury site are the most common symptoms of seat belt injuries to the chest. Other symptoms may include visible bruising and abrasions. In addition, an abdomen marked by a seatbelt mark may indicate abdominal or intestinal injuries, which should be treated right away because these injuries may be fatal.
Symptoms of a Minor Chest Injury
A minor chest injury may cause a person to feel pain in their chest wall when moving their shoulder, arm, trunk, or ribs. People may experience chest pain for days afterward when they sneeze, cough, lie on the area, or breathe deeply. In some cases, minor chest injuries may not require medical attention, but people should still consult their doctors to ensure the damage they suffered is not more severe than the person thinks.
Symptoms of a Major Chest Injury
People who suffer chest injuries in accidents may suffer serious injuries, including damage to their lungs, blood vessels, or hearts. Other symptoms may include shock and extreme breathlessness.
A person's sternum can be fractured in an accident when they have experienced blunt force trauma to their sternum. Lung or tracheal injuries can also result from blows to the chest. They may also suffer injuries to their liver or spleen if the impact is lower or to the side of the chest.
Rib and Sternum Injuries from Seat Belts
Seat belt injuries commonly result in fractured ribs and fractured sternums. Rib and sternum fractures can be painful and require weeks to heal. There may also be damage to the cartilage and connective tissue between the ribs. An injured rib causes severe and sharp pain, especially when coughing or breathing deeply, and becomes worse when lying on the injured area.
Ribs that are bruised can hurt just as much as fractured ones. Ice the injured area, rest, and control your breathing can help treat bruised ribs.
Seat Belt Spine Injuries in a Car Accident
Lap belts can cause injuries to the spine (especially the lumbar spine or lower back), resulting in different symptoms throughout the body. The pain associated with sciatica, for example, can occur in the lower back, buttock, calf, thigh, and foot as a result of trauma to the lumbar spine.
Other symptoms include muscle weakness, numbness, and tingling. Herniated or bulging discs or muscle pain can also result from trauma while wearing a seatbelt.
Do Seat Belts Cause Whiplash?
Because seatbelts hold the body in place, but not the head and neck, they may cause whiplash. For example, an accident can rapidly push the head back and forth due to the forces of the crash. The tendons of the neck can be strained as a result. However, even though whiplash could occur, experts recommend wearing a seat belt. This is because a seat belt drastically reduces the risk of fatal head, neck, and spine injuries.
Seat Belt Shoulder Injuries in a Car Accident
A seat belt could injure the soft tissues of your shoulder during an accident. When you are in an auto accident, the force can tear your shoulder's tendons and muscles, causing discomfort and severe pain. Applying ice to the area will reduce the swelling.
Seatbelts' shoulder straps are typically the cause of shoulder injuries caused by a jerking motion during an accident. Common shoulder injuries from car accidents include:
Your clavicle (collarbone) is the bone that connects your shoulder to your sternum. In an accident, this bone is easy to fracture when the force of an impact is applied.
An injury to your collarbone can usually be caused by the seat belt that protects you. This is because the seat belt can put enough pressure on the clavicle to injure it when it locks.
Torn Rotator Cuff
There are several muscles and tendons in the rotator cuff of your shoulder. This muscle provides stability to the shoulder and gives it power for a full range of motion.
Unfortunately, the tendons and muscles in the rotator cuff can stretch and tear due to an impact on the shoulder or jerking the arm repeatedly. The pain can be excruciating, as well as limit your movement.
With the help of the labrum, the socket of the shoulder joint holds the ball in place. It acts as a seal for the ball by surrounding the socket with a rigid fibrous ring. A jerk or impact on the arm can tear the labrum tissue, which is painful and limits motion.
The ball of your shoulder joint can become dislocated during the chaos of a car accident. The joint may remain dislocated after an accident or may even pop back into place without you noticing. It is painful if you suffer a dislocation alone, but it can also cause a broken bone, a torn labrum, and other injuries.
Shoulder tendinitis occurs when the shoulder's tendons become inflamed due to repeated use. It is also possible for the trauma of a car accident to cause inflammation of the shoulder tendons. This can lead to pain when moving the shoulder.
Soft-Tissue and Visceral Injuries
In an accident, a seatbelt can also result in injuries such as torn tendons or perforations of the abdomen. Soft-tissue injuries are not fatal, but they can cause limited mobility.
They may appear red in the first few hours after impact, rather than the more typical black-and-blue bruises caused by seat belts. In addition, bruising of the heart or lungs can occur with a blow to the chest. However, most patients can recover fully from these injuries.
Can You Recover Damages From a Seat Belt Injury?
A car accident victim in Dallas, Georgia, may be able to recover damages from one or more responsible parties for any injuries sustained - including seat belt injuries. Under Georgia's fault-based insurance system, you can file a claim with the driver's insurance company if you are at fault.
It might be possible to seek compensation from the at-fault driver if your seat belt injury did not occur due to a set belt defect. However, the seat belt manufacturer could be held liable if a defect in the seat belt caused you injuries.
There are often multiple defendants in car accident cases. If you have been injured, you may be able to hold both the other driver and the seat belt manufacturer responsible. In addition, by filing a lawsuit, you could receive compensation for your past and future expenses relating to seat belt injuries.
How Long Do I Have to File a Seat Belt Injury Claim?
Each state has its own statute of limitations on bringing a personal injury or product liability lawsuit. For example, most accident victims have two years from their car crash to file an injury claim in Georgia. However, this time limit can be different under certain circumstances.
If you do not file a claim within the statute of limitations, you might not be able to pursue compensation for your injuries. Get information about the time limit for your case from an experienced accident lawyer in Dallas, GA, like Lonati Law Firm.
Seat Belt Defense in Dallas, GA, Car Accident Cases
Georgia law requires an occupant of a motor vehicle to wear a seat belt. If you were hurt in a car accident and were not wearing your seat belt, you may wonder if you can still recover compensation for your injuries. The short answer to this question is YES. Your compensation should NOT be reduced for not wearing a seat belt in Georgia.
When an insurance company or at-fault party raises the seat belt defense during negotiations, their goal is to reduce—or even eliminate—the amount of damages available to an injured party. However, injury victims are still entitled to compensation for their losses.
Get a Free Seat Belt Injury Case Review Today
Whether you were in pain at the accident scene or not, it is essential to seek medical attention immediately after an accident. In many cases, even if there is no immediate pain, seat belt syndrome can develop into a much more severe, even fatal, condition if not treated right away. Patients who suffer bruises or lacerations from their seat belts in a car accident should be tested for severe internal injuries without exception.
If a negligent driver caused your seat belt syndrome or car accident injuries, call the Lonati Law Firm at 678-363-3500 to get a free, no-obligation consultation right away.