In many cases, wearing your seat belt while in a vehicle is the safest choice for reducing the risk of injury and death in a traffic accident. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimates that seat belt use during 2016 saved an estimated 14,668 lives. The average national rate of seat belt use is 90.1 percent. Texas has maintained an average seat belt use rate of just above 90 percent for the past eight years.
Even though statistics and studies show that wearing a safety belt can reduce the risk of injury in a crash, there is also evidence that indicates seat belt use can cause serious injuries. Seat belt syndrome is associated with severe injuries to the internal organs of the abdomen.
Our Houston car accident attorneys help accident victims suffering from seat belt syndrome file claims to recover compensation for their injuries.
What Is Seat Belt Syndrome?
Seat belt syndrome occurs when the seat belt compresses the abdomen during a collision causing damage to the abdominal wall and internal organs.
Seat Belt Syndrome Injuries
Injuries that may be associated with seat belt syndrome include injuries to the:
- Small bowels
Seat Belt Syndrome Symptoms
In some cases, one of the first symptoms of seat belt syndrome may be bruises to the abdomen and abdominal pain. Unfortunately, until other symptoms are present, a physician may not immediately be concerned about severe injury to the internal organs of the abdomen.
If you have been injured in a car accident and observe any of the following symptoms, you should report these symptoms to your physician and ask about tests to determine if you are suffering from seat belt syndrome:
- Bruising and muscle strains around the abdomen
- Swelling or skin discoloration that does not disappear in a couple of days
- Weakness in the legs could indicate damage to the abdomen or lower back
- Dizziness or weakness may indicate damage to internal organs
- Blood in stools or urine
- Changes in urination or bowel movements
- Constipation and bleeding could indicate a bowel obstruction from seat belt trauma
- Vomiting or coughing up blood may indicate damage to the stomach
- Difficulty breathing may indicate damage to the lungs or heart
- Abdominal pain or pain between the hips and ribs could indicate kidney damage
Seat Belt Syndrome Diagnosis
Seat belt syndrome can be very difficult to diagnose because symptoms may not be present immediately after a motor vehicle crash.
A doctor should perform a physical examination if a patient has symptoms of abdominal injuries.
However, CT scans and focused abdominal sonography in trauma (FAST) are usually required to diagnose damage to internal organs.
In some cases, invasive techniques such as a laparotomy may be required to diagnose injuries associated with seat belt syndrome.
Seat Belt Syndrome Complications
If untreated, the injuries could become life-threatening or cause permanent disabilities and impairments.
Because the injury may not manifest visible symptoms for days after the accident, treatment of seat belt syndrome is often delayed. The delay in treatment can cause additional injuries because of complications, including organ failure and infections.
Compensation for Seat Belt Syndrome
If you suffer injuries associated with seat belt syndrome, your damages could be substantial. Depending on the type and severity of your injury, you may require one or more surgeries, a lengthy recovery, physical therapy, and personal care. The cost of care and treatment for seat belt syndrome can be costly. The loss of income can be significant because of a long recovery. In addition, the physical pain and mental suffering can be overwhelming.
Accident victims can recover compensation for these damages by filing a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver. Our Houston car accident attorneys can file your claim and handle the details of settlement so that you can focus on your recovery.
Contact Our Houston Car Accident Attorneys for More Information
To schedule a free consultation with one of our Houston car accident attorneys, contact the Weycer Law Firm at (713) 668-4545 or use the chat feature on our website to speak with a representative now.