Bradshaw Law, LLC
Bradshaw Law, LLC

Seatbelt Syndrome After a Crash

Revered for their lifesaving value, seatbelts can also cause passengers in Nevada car accidents to suffer from seatbelt syndrome. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, front-seat occupants who wear their safety belts have a 50% reduced risk of suffering moderate to critical injuries and a 45% reduced risk of death in the event of a crash. However, by holding people in place during a collision, seatbelts can also cause serious internal injuries.

What Is Seatbelt Syndrome?

The term seatbelt syndrome is used to describe a collection of internal injuries associated with wearing seatbelts. It may include thoracolumbar vertebral fractures, intra-abdominal organ injuries, vascular system damage, and chest or torso injuries. Undiagnosed or otherwise left untreated, seatbelt-related injuries can be permanent or even life-threatening. Vehicle occupants who suffer these types of injuries may require emergency medical treatment. This may include surgical intervention, ongoing treatments, and rehabilitative care.

What Are the Symptoms of Seatbelt Syndrome?

Some common symptoms of seatbelt-related injuries include:

  • Bruising
  • Stiff neck
  • Abdominal pain
  • Bleeding
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Weakness

The symptoms of seatbelt syndrome vary based on where the injuries occurred, the severity of the injuries, and which internal organs or structures are involved.

What Causes Seatbelt Syndrome?

The transfer of forces from seatbelts to vehicle occupants during a crash can cause serious trauma at the sites of impact. Acting as active restraints, seatbelts have three-point harnesses. In a collision, the sudden deceleration can result in the hyperflexion of the spine around the restraints, which may lead to blunt force trauma, fractures, tears, or crushing injuries.

What Is the Safest Way to Buckle Up?

The appropriate use of seatbelts is vital in protecting vehicle occupants in a motor vehicle accident, as well as in avoiding seatbelt-related injuries. The shoulder belt should be placed away from the neck and across the middle of the vehicle occupants’ chests. Adults and children alike should refrain from putting the shoulder strap under an arm or behind their backs. The lap belt should be secured across the pelvis, resting across the hips and not the stomach. Such placement secures restraints across areas better suited to withstand the forces of a collision than other, less protected areas of the body.