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Common Types of Seatbelt Injuries

Colburn Law

Seatbelts have been crucial in mitigating car accident fatalities, significantly reducing the likelihood of severe injury or death. However, in some circumstances, they can also cause serious harm themselves. Seatbelt injuries can range from superficial bruises and abrasions to more serious damage like fractures and internal organ injuries. 

Common Types of Seatbelth Injuries

Seatbelts Can Cause Serious Injuries

Although rare, seatbelt injuries can occur during high-impact crashes. The severity of these injuries largely depends on the circumstances of the accident, including the vehicle speed, the angle of impact, and the passenger’s position during the crash. 

Abdominal Injuries

During a collision, the lap portion of the seatbelt can exert excessive pressure on the abdomen. This can lead to soft tissue injuries, like bruising and contusions, or more serious injuries like abdominal aortic aneurysms and bowel perforations. Pregnant women are particularly at risk of serious injury if lots of pressure is applied to the uterus. 

Rib and Chest Injuries

The chest area, particularly the ribs, is another common site of seatbelt injuries. The force exerted by the seatbelt during a crash can result in bruised or fractured ribs. Chest injuries can also lead to complications such as pneumothorax, where air is trapped between the lung and the chest wall, causing the lung to collapse.

Shoulder Injuries

A seatbelt’s shoulder strap can exert strong pressure on the collarbone and shoulder blade, potentially causing fractures, dislocations, or soft tissue damage. Shoulder injuries can lead to chronic pain, limit your range of motion, and may require extensive rehabilitation or surgery in severe cases.

Internal Organ Injuries

Seatbelts can also cause internal organ injuries. This typically happens when the belt compresses the body’s midsection during a collision, damaging organs like the liver, spleen, or kidneys. These injuries may not show any symptoms at first, but they can be life-threatening without emergency medical attention.

How to Prevent a Seatbelt Injury

While wearing a seatbelt is mandatory for safety, proper seatbelt use is equally as important. Following these tips could help prevent a serious injury:

  • The shoulder belt should be placed across the middle of your chest and away from your neck. This helps distribute force evenly across the chest in the event of a collision.
  • To minimize the risk of internal injuries, the lap belt should be situated firmly across your hips and below your stomach, not across the abdomen.
  • Never place the shoulder strap behind your back or under your arm, as this could increase the risk of severe injuries during a crash.
  • Always adjust your seatbelt so that it fits snugly but comfortably. It should not be so tight as to cause discomfort, or so loose that it allows free movement in the seat.

What to Do If You Are Injured by a Defective Seatbelt

While the correct use of a seatbelt can significantly reduce the risk of severe injuries, there may be situations where a seatbelt defect itself causes harm. These defects can range from sudden unlatching of the device during a crash to the use of weak materials that tear during a collision, and even can even include electronic or sensor problems.

Manufacturers have a responsibility to ensure that seatbelts installed in vehicles are safe and effective. If you experience a seatbelt failure that contributes to your injuries, you may qualify for legal action.

By filing a product liability lawsuit, you can recover financial compensation to pay for your medical expenses, lost wages, and more. The Seattle personal injury lawyers of Colburn Law are experienced in this process and available to help you seek justice. Contact a Washington product liability attorney as soon as possible to discuss your path to justice.