Many cars now have a flashing light or a repeating ding until you put your seatbelt on. For many people, putting on your seat belt when you get in the car is such an old habit you may not think twice about it. Unfortunately, wearing your seat belt doesn’t always mean you will leave a car accident without a single scratch. Seat belts are there to protect you from more serious injuries and are one of the most important ways to prevent car accident fatalities. But they can also cause a few injuries of their own, especially when not worn properly. Auto injury doctors are very familiar with the types of injuries you can get in a car accident, and unfortunately, seat belt injuries can happen.
Symptoms of a Seat Belt Injury
When you’ve experienced car accident injuries, you might first be in shock or even full of adrenaline. Shock and adrenaline can keep you from fully noticing your injuries or how serious they may be. It can take a few hours or even days for your body to experience all the pain and discomfort from injuries you got in a car accident. While cuts and scrapes or broken bones are more obvious immediately after the accident, bruises can take a while to surface and damaged muscles might start off simply feeling sore.
Any time you have been in a car accident, it is important to see an auto injury doctor because they can help identify injuries and their sources so you get the right treatment approach.
Common Seat Belt Injuries:
Cuts & Bruises
Cuts and bruises from your seat belt are more common seat belt injuries. These can occur when the force of the accident causes your body to strain against the seat belt that is keeping you from being jostled too hard or even thrown out of the car. Under extreme force, the seat belt might leave a scrape or cut along your shoulder or neck. The seat belt can also leave visible bruises along your shoulder and across your waist if the force of the accident is strong enough.
Torn Muscles & Dislocated Joints
The force of the accident can activate what your seat belt is meant to do: help hold your body in place and prevent serious injury. Since your seat belt goes across your shoulder, seat belt injuries are common in that area with serious auto accidents. The seat belt can actually injure the muscles and tendons in your shoulder because of the amount of pressure. The combination of your seat belt and the airbags working to keep you safe can unfortunately result in dislocations, especially in your shoulder and elbows.
Broken Bones & Fractures
Broken bones, also known as fractures, are less common seat belt injuries but they can happen, especially in more serious car accidents. When your seat belt helps restrain your body, the force of the accident can cause the seat belt to put so much pressure on your chest and ribs that it can cause a break. When worn properly, the seat belt goes across your chest to help hold your body in place. In very serious accidents, the pressure could go beyond bruising your ribs and actually cause one or two to fracture. This can also happen with the sternum, which is the bone in the middle of your chest that connects to your rib cage.
Internal Damage & Bleeding
In cases where you might have a fractured rib or a fractured sternum, your auto injury doctor will want to rule out any internal injuries. The rib cage is designed to protect vital organs like your lungs and heart. When ribs are damaged they could move out of place or even puncture a lung or your heart. Internal bleeding can also occur, which is serious and should be treated immediately to avoid more serious damage.
Three Important Facts About Seat Belts
Many car accidents happen close to home
Almost half of all car accidents occur when you are right around the corner, whether you are on your way to work or the grocery store. Skipping your seat belt because you are just going right down the street could be a deadly mistake.
Airbags are not a substitute for a seat belt
Just because your car has airbags doesn’t mean you don’t need to wear your seat belt! While the seat belt and the airbag are both there to keep you safe, they each have a specific role to play in keeping your body safe.
Both straps of the seat belt should be worn properly
Sometimes you might find the strap of the seat belt uncomfortable and wear it loose or even not at all. But if you don’t have your seat belt on properly, it can actually cause more damage in the event of a car accident.