It’s no understatement to say that seat belts save lives. Seat belts reduce the risk of death by 45 percent. For this reason, and thanks to better education, more and more people are taking wearing seat belts more seriously.
Even though a seat belt will save your life, that doesn’t mean you will come out of an accident with no injuries. The function and nature of seat belts make it necessary they’re strong and exert a force on your body. The result is that sometimes there are car accident seat belt injuries.
In this article, you will learn what you need to know about these injuries. This is important as initial injuries may seem insignificant but can deteriorate much further with serious consequences for your long-term health. You’re smart to wear a seat belt, and you’re smart to know the potential damage they can cause in an accident.
Physics of Safety and Injury
It’s helpful to understand the function of the seat belt in physics terms. When a car has to stop suddenly, the longer the stopping distance, the safer it is for the occupants. The job of the seat belt is to cause the occupant to decelerate at the same rate as the vehicle.
When someone is not wearing a seat belt, they decelerate at a faster rate than the vehicle because they will hit the windshield or another part of the vehicle that forces them to stop. That force on the human body can be fatal. When a car is involved in a collision and comes to a stop, the best achievement of the seat belt is to bring the occupant to a stop at the same rate of deceleration as the car itself.
It stands to reason, and the laws of physics, that the faster the car is going and the higher the rate of deceleration, the greater the force will be on the occupant. So if the impact of the vehicle is severe, injury of some kind to the occupant is almost unavoidable. The only question that remains is to what severity those injuries will be?
Seat Belt Syndrome
This refers to a range of injuries that occur as a result of wearing a seat belt. The phrase ‘seat belt syndrome’ seems to have become popular in the 1990s. Although seat belts have been around for decades, it wasn’t until there were more cars on the roads and people starting using seat belts more often that this phrase found its way into the medical literature.
Seat belt syndrome includes superficial injuries to the skin such as abrasions and cuts. Following an accident, it’s not uncommon to have some marks or bruising on the skin. If that’s the full extent of the injuries, then seat belt syndrome would not be such a big concern.
More serious injuries are those that cannot be directly observed. For example, tearing of internal organs, perforations of the bowel, damage to vital blood vessels, fracture to the ribs and other bones. Apart from that, it’s possible to experience tearing of muscles, especially in the shoulder.
The important point here is that following an accident, you should always get a medical examination. Even if your injuries only appear to be slight, you should still seek a medical opinion as many of these problems may not manifest until sometime after the initial car accident injury.
Car Accident Head Injury Symptoms
One of the most important parts of your body is your head and brain. Even if you wear a seat belt, it’s still possible to sustain a head injury. That said, traumatic brain injury (TBI) is less likely if you’re wearing a seat belt.
Depending on the direction of impact on the car, you may hit your head on a window or something else in the vehicle. Besides the obvious symptoms of concussion or a loss of consciousness, you should be aware of having a persistent headache, vomiting, dizziness, and any clear fluids running from the nose or ears.
Be aware of other more subtle symptoms such as a loss of memory and concentration. You may find that you’re more sensitive to sound or light or have an unexplained sense of agitation. Don’t delay in getting a medical opinion.
Apart from the physical aspects of injury, it’s good to be aware of some of the legal issues. If your seat belt fails in some way, then you will experience a greater degree of injury. If this can be proved, then there’s a possibility you may be entitled to compensation.
On the other hand, it may be argued by some that you did not wear your seat belt as it was intended or designed. Not wearing your seat belt properly has caused the majority of your injuries.
Whether such an argument stands up to scrutiny will vary from case to case. The simple lesson, though, is to make sure your seat belts are fully functional and that you make it your habit to wear them properly.
Car Accident Seat Belt Injuries – Final Word
In this article, you’ve read what you need to know about car accident seat belt injuries. Although a seat belt will save your life, depending on the circumstances, you could still sustain a very serious injury. This article has helped you appreciate the importance of getting an expert opinion immediately following an accident.
Whenever you get in your car, always buckle up and teach your family to do the same. Make sure your seat belts are tested every year, and always wear them as they’re designed. Check out the other latest articles on our site that fit your lifestyle and interests.