Seat belts are designed for one purpose — to save lives. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that seat belts save 13,000 lives every year. Since the 1970’s, seat belt use has skyrocketed, and the recent addition of airbags as standard equipment has further increased road and highway safety.

Seat belts do their job — that is to brace the driver or passenger during the impact of an accident or collision, preventing the person from being ejected, hitting the dashboard or windshield, or sustaining a serious whiplash injury. While performing this life-saving purpose, seat belts can apply a great deal of pressure to the shoulders, chest and abdomen of the wearer, and this can cause injury.

Common injuries from seat belt impact usually include these areas:

  • Cervical spine and neck — most commonly known as whiplash, these areas are vulnerable to soft tissue trauma even in minor, low-impact crashes;
  • Thorax — often caused by the shoulder belt, injuries to the upper back vary in severity depending on the intensity of the car’s impact and the velocity of the car;
  • Thoracic Spine — the mid-spinal area is compressed by the lap belt and often not supported by the car’s seat back.
  • Lumbar Spine — a vulnerable spot on most adults, the lower back and sacroiliac joints take much of the body’s trauma and are slow to recover;
  • Abdomen — the abdomen houses the body’s vital organs, many of which can suffer trauma from the car’s lap belt in a high impact crash;

Seat belt injuries range in severity from light bruising, minor lacerations and slight burns to severe bruising, soft tissue trauma and fractures. In a high velocity, high impact crash, a seat belt can cause fracture to the pelvis, clavicle or rib cage. While some seat belt injuries can be severe, in most accidents they are not. In all cases, the injuries that the seat belt wearer would sustain if not belted are clearly far more severe.

In the important moments following a car accident it may be hard to know what happened.  The human body reacts to trauma by releasing adrenaline, and this prevents the person from feeling pain. If you have been involved in an accident, you might be more injured than you think. Seek medical attention immediately and contact a friend or family member to get you home. Next contact a car accident attorney at Lytal, Reiter, Smith, Ivey & Fronrath. We will collect the details of your accident and put together a case so you get the compensation you deserve. Call our West Palm Beach office at 561-665-1990 or contact us online today.