There are many things that come to mind during a car accident — what just happened? Did anyone get hurt? You may also be wondering how it’s going to affect your life, time, and pocket. Adding insult to injury, there’s always the possibility of litigation. When it comes to the latter, it’s common to think of well-known accident-related injuries — such as whiplash, herniated discs, or bone fractures. But, what about less noted ones, such as seat belt syndrome? What is it? How can you learn to recognize its signs? And, what can you do to be compensated for such an injury?
What is Seat Belt Syndrome?
Seat belt syndrome could refer to several different types of injuries that a person could sustain by the sudden constraint of the belt while traveling at a high speed, then crashing into an object. They can include anything from burns to the skin on your chest, broken ribs, or organ damage. They can be extremely damaging to the average person — and even more so to a child. Injuries are most likely to occur to people who were not wearing their seat belt correctly — such as failing to secure the shoulder strap, wearing the shoulder strap under the armpit, or wearing the lap belt across the stomach instead of on top of their lap. This is not to say that wearing a seatbelt is dangerous. In fact, wearing it correctly is the safest way to reduce the risk of injury and death in a traffic accident.
Seat Belt Syndrome Symptoms
One of the most important factors to keep in mind about seatbelt syndrome is that due to the shock of the event — as well as the adrenaline rush that accompanies it — it’s possible to experience serious injuries and not be aware of them until days later. So, if you’ve recently had an accident and later develop any of the symptoms below, they are likely related to the crash:
- Breathing difficulties
- Blood in urine or bowel movements
- Coughing up blood
- Intense pain in the abdomen or ribs
- Lower back pain
- Changes in bowel movements
- Rapid heart rate
- Abdominal tenderness
- Hypotension (low blood pressure)
Keep in mind that there have been plenty of car accident victims who seek medical care immediately after the accident and show no signs of internal injuries. They may be conscious and their vitals may have been fine, yet it turns out later on that they are suffering from a seatbelt syndrome injury. So, even if you were determined to be fine during your initial emergency room visit, never ignore symptoms that show up later. Left untreated, they could result in permanent disability — and sometimes even be fatal.
Seat Belt Syndrome Diagnosis
Diagnosing a seatbelt syndrome injury may require a CT scan, abdominal sonography, or laparotomy. Regardless of whether you think your symptoms are related to a car accident, always mention to your doctor that you were involved in one.
Seat Belt Syndrome Complications
Complications of seatbelt syndrome will depend on the type of injury sustained. Typically, they can lead to disfigurement, permanent disability, organ failure, or even death.
Compensation for Seat Belt Syndrome
If you were not at fault for the accident, compensation for seat belt syndrome will include all financial losses you’ve sustained as a direct result of the accident — such as medical bills, future medical costs, lost wages, loss of earning capacity, loss of consortium, and pain and suffering. During a process called discovery, your lawyer will request medical records, as well as depose your doctor — and possibly an accident reconstruction expert to determine the extent of your injuries and how they will impact your life in the future.
If you got into a car accident and were not at fault, let us help you.
Every car accident is different. There are many factors that determine the drivers’ level of liability. Let’s discuss your case, we’ll look for ways to have all of your expenses covered.
At Carey, Leisure & Neal, we have more than three decades of combined experience successfully representing clients involved in car accidents. All of our attorneys are accessible and Board Certified in civil trial law. Contact us online or call us at 727-799-3900 to schedule a free consultation.
Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and does not create an attorney/client