Using a seat belt is the most effective way to prevent injury or death in an automobile collision. While it is undeniable that using a seat belt can save lives, unfortunately, the very devices that are meant to protect passengers in the event of an accident can often be the direct cause of serious and debilitating injuries.
If you or a loved one has been injured by a seat belt after a Connecticut auto accident, you may be entitled to compensation. You could recover damages for your medical expenses, pain and suffering, and other losses. If you think your injuries were caused by your seat belt, the attorneys at Jonathan Perkins Injury Lawyers can help you recover the compensation you deserve.
There Are Several Common Seat Belt Injuries
During an accident, a seat belt restrains the body against several thousand pounds of pressure generated by the momentum of a crash. Because seat belts generally stretch across the chest and abdomen, several types of injuries to these areas are common, including:
- Bone fractures
- Bowel and bladder injuries
- Brain injuries
- Head injuries
- Internal organ damage
- Spinal cord injuries
Following any kind of auto collision, it’s always a wise decision to visit your local doctor or physician and have them check your body for signs of injuries, including bruising and lacerations.
The Symptoms Of Seat Belt Injuries
As discussed above, seat belts can cause serious injuries to the body. However, it may take several days for injuries caused by safety belts to become apparent, and your injuries may be dependent on the type of seat belt used. If you experience any of the following symptoms, you may be more injured than you initially realized and should be sure to see your doctor.
Pain In The Chest, Neck And Legs
Pain in the chest, neck and/or legs is an extremely common result of seat belt use during a car accident. Usually, this pain occurs because when the seat belt locks during an accident, a person’s body is forcefully pressed against the restraints. While this prevents the passenger from being thrown forward into a windshield, the pressure from the seat belt can also cause deep bruises, muscle strains or cracked ribs. While you may be tempted to ignore these injuries, it is important to inform your doctor of any pain after an accident in order to rule out serious injuries.
Whiplash is another common type of seat belt injury caused by the back-and-forth movement of the head during an accident. A person suffering from whiplash will notice that their neck is increasingly sore and difficult to move. Whiplash is a spinal injury, which can be serious if left untreated. While some whiplash injuries resolve on their own, others may result in lasting pain or stiffness.
Abdominal Pain And Bowel Problems
Pressure from a seat belt across the abdomen often causes internal injuries, including bleeding or damage to the intestines, colon or urinary tract. Accident victims with intestinal injuries often suffer from nausea, vomiting and fever. Blood in the urine or stools also indicates an internal injury and is a serious symptom that should not be ignored. Additionally, the accident victim’s stomach may be painful to the touch and may feel tight or distended. Children are especially susceptible to abdominal injuries caused by seat belts because a vehicle’s safety restraints are designed for adult bodies and may sit too high on a child’s stomach in an accident.
In addition to damaging the intestines, seat belts can compress and damage the urinary system, including the bladder and kidneys. If you have abdominal pain, pain while urinating or blood in the urine after an accident, this can indicate damage to the urinary system. Pain between the hips and ribs can be symptomatic of kidney damage, which can be fatal if left untreated.
If you or your child were wearing a seat belt during an auto accident in Connecticut, be aware of any changes in bowel movements or urination, which can indicate an internal injury. Be sure to have these symptoms checked by a physician who can either treat or rule out any potentially serious injuries caused by wearing a seat belt.
Weakness after an accident can be either generalized or focused on the limbs. Damage to the nerves in the spinal cord can cause weakness through one or both legs or through the shoulders and arms. In contrast, generalized weakness or dizziness can indicate shock or internal damage caused by the seat belt injury.
Most seat belts stretch across a car accident victim’s chest in order to keep the passenger from being thrown forward. The pressure from the seat belt can cause ribs to crack or break, making it physically difficult or painful to breathe. In addition, a seat belt may injure the heart and lungs, causing fluid to build up around the organs. A person suffering from these injuries may feel like they are suffocating or unable to breathe deeply. Any breathing problems should be immediately reported to your doctor to rule out serious internal injuries.
After you seek medical attention for any new or worsening injuries caused by a seat belt in a Connecticut car crash, you should consider consulting a knowledgeable seat belt attorney like those at Jonathan Perkins Injury Lawyers to discuss a possible accident claim.
What Are The Most Common Types Of Seat Belts?
Seat belts have been responsible for saving hundreds of thousands of lives since they were first implemented in vehicles. The belts stop a person’s forward movement in the event of an accident or sudden stop and prevent the wearer from being thrown into a windshield or ejected from the vehicle.
While there are different types of seat belts that are used in cars, aircrafts, boats and other powered vehicles, there are six primary types of safety restraints that are used in passenger vehicles.
- Lap: Lap-style seat belts were the first type of safety restraint created. The belt wraps across the waist of the occupant and usually has an adjustment mechanism that allows it to be tightened or loosened. Today, this style is most commonly found in airplanes.
- Sash: The sash type of seat belt is worn over the occupant’s shoulder and is generally fastened at the waist on the “B” pillar of the vehicle. Used mainly throughout the 1960s, this style was found to have a design flaw that enabled occupants to slide out of it under certain accident conditions.
- Lap/sash (nonautomatic): As the name implies, this design is a combination of the lap-style and sash type of seat belts. This design secures passengers from each side of the waist as well as over the shoulder.
- Inertia reel (automatic): This version of the seat belt is the type most often found in vehicles. A more developed version of the lap/sash design, the inertia reel seat belt also uses a geared mechanism that locks in tension when a certain amount of force is pulled on the belt. Also considered a “three-point” design, this belt is made up of one single, continuous length of webbing and helps spread out the force of a collision on the shoulders, chest and pelvis. One known problem with this design is that it can allow occupants to slide out of the seat belt during a rollover collision.
- Belt-in-seat: The BIS, or belt-in-seat type of restraint, was created in an attempt to remedy the sliding problems associated with the inertia reel-style restraints. While still essentially a three-point system, the shoulder attachment location is actually moved to the backrest of the seat. Some claim that this type of restraint is safer in rollover crashes, but this is a subject of debate.
- Five-point harness: The five-point harness is commonly found in child safety seats, race cars and other high-performance vehicles. While it is somewhat restrictive when compared to most other seat belts, these belts are acknowledged as one of the safest types of seat belt designs currently available. An important design of these restraints is that each side of the “lap” section connects into a center belt and lock located between the legs of the occupant (which prevents vertical movement during a rollover), and there is a separate belt for each shoulder. Another important design feature is that these belts are generally never fastened to the seat – they are bolted into the vehicle itself.
Injured By A Seat Belt? You Need Knowledgeable Representation.
In a 30 mph collision, it is estimated that a 160-pound person who is not wearing a seat belt can strike a windshield or another object with as much as 4,000 pounds of force.
While this illustrates the life-saving power of seat belts, it also shows how much force can be exerted against the body by seat belts during an accident. Through simple physics, seat belts can cause serious injuries such internal bleeding, cracked ribs or spinal cord injuries.
If you have been injured in a collision and suspect that your seat belt malfunctioned or that it caused or worsened your injuries, the attorneys at Jonathan Perkins Injury Lawyers can help. Our personal injury attorneys have experience dealing with all types of car accidents as well as injuries caused by seat belts. If you think you may have a claim, call us today at 800-PERKINS, or use our free case evaluation form to have one of our experienced Connecticut accident attorneys evaluate your case for free.