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Seatbelt Injury from Auto Accident

When a traffic accident occurs, no one expects to suffer from a seatbelt injury. From auto accident statistics to anecdotal evidence, in the vast majority of cases, seatbelts function correctly and save lives. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports that each year 9,500 lives are saved by using a seatbelt.

Injury from auto accidents leads to pain and suffering, and to significant hospital and rehabilitation bills. Some lay the blame on the victim by assuming they failed to wear a seatbelt properly. However, many people sustain injuries even if they correctly used a seatbelt.

Seatbelts first showed up in cars in the 1950s, but the use of seatbelts stayed low until the early 1980s. Seatbelts are very effective in preventing passengers from flying through the windshield or into the dashboard. A fair amount of engineering went into their design. In an accident, a seatbelt should spread out all of the energy and force caused by a collision to areas of the body that can take a little more "beating up", specifically, the pelvis and the ribs.

The use of seat belts lead to something called "seat belt syndrome" where crash victims may suffer from:

  • a lap belt mark on the skin (the "seat belt sign")
  • laceration of the colon, small bowel or the stomach
  • laceration of the liver and spleen
  • injured pancreas
  • vascular injuries
  • spinal injuries

  • Sometimes, there is a failure of the seatbelt system itself. There are many components in seatbelt restraints and any of them can fail in an accident. Even when a seatbelt is used, it is possible that some defect in the restraint causes serious injuries. Whether or not injuries are due to a defective seatbelt, the potential for a seatbelt injury from auto accident cases is large.

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