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Seat Belt Syndrome Explained

By Jason Bottlinger on May 29, 2020

Seat belts are one of the safest components in a vehicle and their use saves millions of lives each year that would otherwise be lost in tragic car accidents. However, that does not mean you may not suffer medical complications when you wear a seatbelt. They are designed to prevent severe and fatal injuries by absorbing the impact of a high-speed vehicle, but that does mean you will always walk away from an accident with a clean bill of health. In some cases, you may develop a condition known as seatbelt syndrome.

What is Seat Belt Syndrome?

Seat belt syndrome occurs during high-impact collisions where the human body is compressed by the belt. The belt keeps victims from crashing into the steering wheel or car door, but it absorbs most of the energy of the crash. As a result, the abdomen can become compressed, damaging your internal organs, including your:

  • Intestines and stomach
  • Kidneys
  • Liver
  • Small bladder
  • Colon
  • Lungs
  • Heart

This condition can be undertreated due to the difficulty in identifying organ damage after an accident. Most symptoms are hidden by adrenaline and shock and the only readily apparent sign of trauma is bruising. However, other symptoms may develop over time, including:

  • Dizziness or nausea
  • Irregular heart rate
  • High or low blood pressure
  • Blood in your urine or stool
  • Constipation or difficulty going to the bathroom
  • Abdominal pain
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Bruising along your abdomen

If you have any of the above symptoms after a car accident, you should contact your doctor. You may be bleeding internally, suffering from organ failure, or have a fractured rib that is affecting one of your organs, such as your lungs.

Cases Involving Seat Belt Syndrome

Because seat belt syndrome is linked to internal organ damage, the costs of treatment can be significant. You may require multiple surgeries, pain medication, antibiotics if you suffer an infection, and possibly an organ transplant, if the damage is extensive. These costs can quickly add up and your injuries put a strain on your life, limiting your ability to work. In cases involving organ failure, you may have to change your whole lifestyle to deal with a damaged or transplanted organ.

Victims of seat belt syndrome have two outlets for compensation after a car accident. The first and most common is a car accident claim against the at-fault driver. If they were speeding, under the influence of drugs or alcohol, fatigued, or distracted, an argument can be made that their negligence contributed to your injuries. Cases such as these will be filed against the driver’s insurance company, which will likely downplay your injuries or dismiss your case if you do not have an attorney.

However, if your developed internal organ damage due to a defective seat belt, then you may have a product liability case. In this situation, you would file a claim for damages because the auto manufacturer who developed the faulty seat belt that caused your injuries. These cases could be based on the material used to develop the seat belt, which could be too restrictive for the human body, or if the belt was improperly mounted on your seat and did not distribute the force of the impact evenly across the belt.

In both cases, you will need the legal advice of an experienced law firm to pursue full and proper compensation.

Legal Representation After a Car Accident

The damage caused by car accidents can be extensive, ranging not only from your injuries but also the way it impacts your life. We know this is especially difficult for the hardworking residents of Nebraska, especially if it takes you away from work or from pursuing your career. If you have a family to take care of, the time you spend out of work can be extremely stressful. You may be tempted to go back to work immediately, delaying your recovery, but this will likely only cause more internal damage.

Instead of suffering under the weight of medical bills and lost wages because of someone else’s negligence, you deserve compensation for the costs you have endured. At Bottlinger Law L.L.C., our firm understands the full ramifications of a serious car accident injury and relentlessly advocate for the fair treatment of our clients by insurance companies. Whether your injuries were caused by a reckless driver or a careless manufacturer, our Omaha personal injury attorney will pursue every avenue available to ensure you receive the compensation owed to you after a serious injury. Call us at (402) 505-8234 to learn what options are available to you under Nebraska law.

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Posted in: Car Accidents

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