Many drivers worry about seat belts causing injury to their children, or causing a painful pelvic fracture that will take weeks to heal. But the truth is that while wearing a seat belt is much safer than riding without one, some victims suffer serious and even fatal injuries as a result of seat belt use.

Shoulder and Lap Belts May Cause Internal Injuries

There are two ways a victim may be injured by a safety belt. The shoulder harness will often cause injuries to the collarbone, ribs, and torso, while the sudden tightening of the lap belt can result in damage to the bowel, spinal cord, and intestines. Here are just a few ways victims have suffered internal injuries after a car accident:

  • Shoulder belt. One of the most common injuries a shoulder harness will cause is a sternal fracture. Victims who suffer a broken sternum are more likely to suffer rib fractures, causing punctured lungs and even spinal cord damage.
  • Lap belt. When correctly placed, seat belts can put significant pressure on the pelvis, bowel, kidneys, and intestines. In many cases, doctors will attend to external injuries—such as head wounds and broken bones—and overlook the early signs of abdominal injury.

Unfortunately, many internal injuries from a seat belt may be overlooked after a car accident. While some victims have a bruise or abrasion from their seat belts, many victims who have suffered injury show no outward signs of damage. Victims without external bruising may be sent home, only to suffer increasing abdominal pain and symptoms—leading to emergency surgery or early death.

Remember: wearing a safety belt can prevent your accident from proving fatal, so you should always buckle up before getting behind the wheel. However, if your seat belt caused serious injuries that could have lifelong effects, you may be entitled to compensation for your suffering. Click the contact link on this page to have our legal team investigate the circumstances of your accident as soon as possible.


Manfred Ricciardelli
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Morristown Workers' Compensation Lawyer
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